Rex Tillerson urges easing of blockade against Qatar

As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other countries Friday to "immediately take steps to de-escalate" the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, which he said is "hindering USA military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS", President Donald Trump continued his criticism of Qatar for what he portrayed as that country's role in funding terrorism.

On Monday, five Arab countries - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the U.A.E., Bahrain and Yemen - cut ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.

US President Donald Trump this week urged Gulf unity in a call to Saudi Arabia's King Salman.

In a series of three Twitter posts Tuesday, Trump seemed to take credit for the Saudi-led move to isolate Qatar, which hosts the largest USA military base in the Middle East.

CNN and The Guardian have also reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation believes Russian hackers planted a false story about the emir of Qatar in recent weeks, potentially contributing to the crisis.

Qatar has "historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level", Trump told reporters.

The West African nations of Senegal and Mauritania have joined have severed their diplomatic relations with Qatar in expression of solidarity with the four Gulf countries that cut ties.

Jubeir said that "for many years Qatar has taken steps to support certain organisations".

Qatar responded by saying that the list reinforced "baseless allegations".

Although applauding a Kuwaiti effort to mediate the crisis, Gargash said Emirati and Saudi officials planned to concede nothing to Qatar, an global air travel hub now cut off from some of the skies around it and blocked from receiving the trucks full of food it relies on to feed its citizens.

Commenting on the criticism against Turkey for providing food supplies and military support to Qatar, Erdogan said: "Our friends in the Gulf were not bothered by the United States base in Qatar but why are they concerned about a Turkish base".

The emir of Kuwait is trying to mediate the row, carrying out shuttle diplomacy between Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

But the document contains at least two names already designated internationally as terrorist financiers, and against whom Qatar took action, according to a previous US Department of State report.

Qatar is heavily dependent on food imports and the crisis has led to stockpiling and shortages.

  • Leroy Wright