updated 7:33 AM MST, Nov 17, 2017

Trump speaks to Saudi King as Gulf crisis deepens

  • Published in Middle East

The United States, France and Russian Federation have called for dialogue while Turkey has defended Qatar and said it would further “develop” ties with Doha.

Trump spoke with the emir of Qatar on Wednesday, the White House announced, and “offered to help the parties resolve their differences”, by hosting a meeting if necessary.

President Donald Trump offered Wednesday to personally broker a resolution to the Persian Gulf’s escalating diplomatic crisis, as both he and Qatar looked past his pointed suggestion only a day earlier that the tiny gas-rich nation enables terrorism.

The rating agency said Qatar’s economy would suffer from the decision on Monday of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain to cut diplomatic and transport ties with Doha.

Trump also encouraged unity in the Gulf region with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during a telephone call on Tuesday, the White House said. Tillerson told reporters at the State Department shortly before Trump spoke that this blockade is hindering the USA -led military campaign against ISIS, creating hardships for the people of Qatar and “impairing US and other global business activities in the region”.

Federal Bureau of Investigation experts visited Qatar in late May to analyse an alleged cyber breach that saw the hackers place the fake story with Qatar’s state news agency, the USA broadcaster said.

Responding to questions from lawmakers on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said he expected Gulf Arab states to overcome the crisis given the “strong relations and blood ties” between them. Turkey says it backs Qatar, which is a little surprising too, considering the animus Recep Erdogan has for the Bashar al-Assad regime, which is backed by Iran and its Hezbollah terrorists.

Riyadh and its allies accuse Qatar of supporting extremist groups and of serving the interests of regional arch-rival Iran, claims Doha has strongly rejected.

“We believe this will exacerbate Qatar’s external vulnerabilities and could put pressure on its economic growth and fiscal metrics“, S&P said.

Captain Jeff Davis, a Defense Department spokesman, was asked to reconcile Trump’s tweets with a statement from Central Command that the US was grateful to Qatar for its longstanding support.

The four Arab countries named in a statement 59 people, including Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi, and 12 entities, among them Qatari-funded charities Qatar Charity and Eid Charity.

“Closing Al Jazeera’s bureaux is a political decision that amounts to censoring this TV broadcaster”, RSF’s Middle East chief Alexandra El Khazen said in a statement.

Speaking to the AP from a Foreign Ministry office in Dubai, Gargash listed a number of terror groups he alleged Qatar had funded, including al-Qaida’s branches in Syria and Somalia, militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and other group’s with “al-Qaida-type organizations” in Libya.

In Germany, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir also said he wants to see a response from the Arab countries’ demands “soon”.

It said Qatar may need to use Qatar Investment Authority and sovereign wealth fund money, as well as central bank reserves to tackle any big outflow of funds.

Jordan also signaled a willingness to work with neighboring countries to help end the crisis, according to government spokesman Mohammad Al-Momani.

A USA official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss operational considerations, said there’s no serious thought of pulling out of the base, though there may be concerns about transporting supplies and basic goods across borders if the current dispute drags on.

Later Sheikh Sabah flew to Doha for talks with the Qatari leadership.