Jpost Middle East
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Tuesday Qatar needed to take several steps, including ending its support of Palestinian Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, to restore ties with other key Arab states.
“We’ve decided to take steps to make clear that enough is enough,” Adel Al-Jubeir told journalists in Paris. “Nobody wants to hurt Qatar. Qatar has to choose whether it must move in one direction or another direction.”
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain said on Monday they would sever all ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism.
Al-Jubeir added that Qatar was undermining the Palestinian authority and Egypt in its support of Hamas and the Muslim brotherhood and backing “hostile media.”
The two Arab nations fell into a deep row this week when Saudi Arabia abruptly announced that it would be cutting off important diplomatic and financial ties to its Persian Gulf neighbor.
The foreign ministers comments came just hours after US President Donald Trump, wading into the deep rift among Arab states, said on Tuesday his trip to the Middle East was “already paying off,” as governments there took a hard new line in accusing Qatar of funding militant groups.
The campaign to isolate Qatar was disrupting trade in commodities from crude oil to metals and food, and deepening fears of a possible shock to the global gas market, where the tiny Gulf state is a major player.
The Pentagon, however, renewed praise of Qatar on Tuesday for hosting US forces and its “enduring commitment to regional security,” sticking to a message of reassurance even Trump, via Twitter, applauded a decision by Arab powers to cut ties to the Gulf ally.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis declined to answer a question about whether Qatar supported terrorism, the accusation made by Arab states, saying: “I’m not the right person to ask that. I consider them a host to our very important base at al Udeid.”
In fact, US officials were blindsided by Saudi Arabia’s decision to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar in a coordinated move with Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), current and former officials in Washington told Reuters.
Trump’s comments on the rift between Qatar and other Arab nations over its alleged support for Iran and Islamist groups came as the leader of Kuwait traveled to Saudi Arabia to try to mediate.