Published: Thu, June 08, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Russia denies reports of hacking Qatar's state news agency


Trump sided with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries Tuesday in a deepening diplomatic crisis with Qatar, appearing to endorse the accusation that the oil-rich Persian Gulf nation is funding terrorist groups.

In a series of early-morning tweets, Trump appeared to endorse the accusation that the small, gas-rich kingdom funds terrorist groups, a serious allegation against a strategic USA partner that hosts a base with some 10,000 American troops.

"I think in terms of the president's message in Riyadh, remember, was to motivate all of the Arab and Muslim nations worldwide and the Arab Muslim summit that all nations needed to take action against extremism and take action to also terminate the support, financial support, in any ways that they can", Tillerson said.

Trump's Tuesday tweet - in which he said "all reference was pointing to Qatar" as a financer of extremism - was especially surprising given Qatar's role as host of the largest United States airbase in the Middle East.

He says Qatar will need to close or limit its Al-Jazeera news network and stop funding extremists groups to end the crisis.

The move came just two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia and vowed to improve ties with both Riyadh and Cairo to combat terrorism and contain Iran. Government spokesman and Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş, said late on Monday that Erdoğan contacted many heads of state and government from the Gulf region and the West in an effort to actively take part in the search for a peaceful solution to the crisis. Those countries on Monday severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, leading to suspended flights and regional ports closed to Qatari ships as anxious residents started stockpiling food.

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Qatar is a key US ally in the fight against the Islamic State group and the USA military base in the country is one of the largest in the Middle East.

Qatar has an independent streak that has often angered its neighbours, attracting criticism for hosting the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and supporting Islamist rebels in Syria.

As an important trade partner of Turkey, Qatar has so far invested 2.2 billion US dollars in the transcontinental country, with investments on the rise in the past four years. The Qatar crisis, the Saudi escalation and the Tehran terror attack have further increased uncertainites in the Middle East, which is becoming a powder keg that could go off at any moment with new, unexpected sparks. "And at this point, we're continuing to work with each of those partners". Trump's statements on Twitter indicated that he supports the decision and views it as evidence of his trip's success.

Castaner said France doesn't intent to take sides.

As a member of the Saudi-led Arab coalition, Qatar has been involved in the military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen since March 2015. "The measures are unjustified and are based on false and baseless claims", Qatar said in response to Monday's announcement. And it is trying to galvanize the Arab world to assume greater responsibility in fighting IS, something governments won't be able to do if they're consumed with internal spats. Lindsey Graham, summing up America's strategic conundrum.

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