Qatar row: Trump claims credit for isolation

US President Donald Trump has claimed credit for the pressure being placed on Qatar by Gulf neighbours who accuse it of supporting terrorism in the region.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Yemen, Libya’s eastern-based government and the Maldives have all cut diplomatic and other ties with Qatar.

Mr Trump said he was told during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia that Qatar was funding “radical ideology”.

He added that the visit was “already paying off”.

Analysts say the timing of the move, two weeks after a visit to Saudi Arabia by Mr Trump, is crucial.

Mr Trump’s speech in the Saudi capital Riyadh, in which he blamed Iran for instability in the Middle East and urged Muslim countries to take the lead in combating radicalisation, is seen as likely to have emboldened Gulf allies to act against Qatar.

“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!” Mr Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

He later tweeted: “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding… extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”

In the same week as Mr Trump’s Riyadh speech, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE blocked Qatari news sites, including Al Jazeera.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE gave Qatari nationals two weeks to leave, banned their own citizens from travelling to Qatar, and cut all transport links.

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Qatar is backing plans for talks with its regional rivals as the diplomatic row gathers pace.

Kuwait – one of the Gulf countries not involved in the dispute – has offered to mediate talks, and Qatar said it was receptive to dialogue. Kuwait’s emir is travelling to Saudi Arabia for talks.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told Al Jazeera that his country was seeking “a dialogue of openness and honesty”.

He said Qatar would not retaliate but was unhappy with regional rivals “trying to impose their will on Qatar or intervene in its internal affairs”.

He later told the BBC that his government had told President Trump during his Middle-East trip that there was no evidence that Qatar was supporting radical Islamists.

Source: BBC

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