Trump throws ties with key ally Qatar into crisis

Trump publicly accused key regional ally Qatar of funding extremism, while tacitly backing a blockade of the emirate, home to the Al-Udeid Air Base near Doha where around 10,000 US military personnel are stationed.

Trump throws ties with key ally Qatar into crisis

World Bulletin / News Desk

In a series of morning tweets, President Donald Trump threw Washington's relations with Doha into deep crisis on Tuesday and raised doubts about the future of the largest US air base in the Middle East.

The base is also the regional headquarters of US special forces and air force commands -- two vital components of American military operations in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and beyond.

Trump's comments came after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states broke diplomatic relations with their smaller neighbor.

The US leader appeared to claim credit for Gulf states isolating Doha, a move he said could "be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!"

"So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off," Trump said in a morning tweet.

"They said they would take a hard line on funding... extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar," he said.

Trump's tweets mark a major departure in US foreign policy that could upend the balance of power in the Middle East, and left his administration scrambling to contain the damage.

Just weeks ago Trump smiled and shook hands with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, saying "we are friends, we have been friends for a long time now."

Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis tried to quell concerns about the future of Al-Udeid, stressing there had been "no impact" on US military operations in Qatar "and we don't anticipate there will be."

Apparently contradicting Trump, spokesman Sean Spicer said the White House "wants to see this issue deescalated and resolved immediately."

"The president had a very, very constructive conversation with the emir during his visit in Riyadh," Spicer added.

"At that time, he was very heartened by the emir's commitment to formally joining the terrorist financing targeting center."

Last Mod: 07 Haziran 2017, 01:05
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