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Tillerson Calls for Middle East Countries to Ease the Qatar Blockade

21 Juin 2017

Trump had asked Tillerson to help mediate the crisis, and the secretary has been calling his counterparts in the region to "de-escalate" the situation and resolve their grievances.

The US secretary of state has urged Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf states to ease their blockade on Qatar, saying it is causing unintended humanitarian consequences and affecting the US-led fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. Turkey and Qatar have both provided support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and backed rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Qatar is regional headquarters for U.S. Central Command and home to some 10,000 American troops, as NPR's Scott Horsley has reported.

Nonetheless, Trump has been unafraid to deliver unusually sharp rebukes of Qatar.

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted his support for the Gulf embargo, taking some credit for the decision which he claimed was a reaction to his Saudi visit in May. Ironically, Saudi Arabia are by far the largest financier of ISIS.

Trump wrote: "During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology".

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed Turkey's support for Qatar on Friday and called for the blockade against Doha by several Arab states to be completely lifted. "I decided ... the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding".

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"For Qatar, we want you back among the community of responsible nations".

Many Gulf political experts saw a lack of coherent strategy.

If accurate, the allegations would indicate Russian efforts to undermine U.S. foreign policy, building on USA intelligence concerns that Russian hackers attempted to influence last year's presidential election, won by Mr Trump. "The Qataris will go by the official statements of the State and Defense departments, as they are actually representing official US policy".

It said it could not immediately respond to a request for comment on the hostage deal. "Qatar must satisfy all the demands of the Arab states, the main one is to disclose all the wanted terrorists, who are sheltered on its territory", Gammal said on Tuesday.

"Now the concern is more serious, much more acute than 2014", he said.

A diplomatic crisis of unprecedented scale erupted in the Gulf and wider region Monday, as eight governments dramatically cut ties with Qatar over its alleged support for extremist groups.

He also announced $110 billion-worth of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

Tillerson Calls for Middle East Countries to Ease the Qatar Blockade