Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have both cut their ties with Qatar in an unprecedented move, have welcomed the US criticism of Doha, as a diplomatic rift between Persian Gulf Arab countries deepens.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates broke off relations with Qatar on June 5, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region. They also suspended all land, air and sea traffic with Qatar, ejected its diplomats and ordered Qatari citizens to leave their countries.
They further tightened their squeeze on Qatar on Friday and released a list of 59 Qatari and Doha-based people and entities allegedly linked to “terrorism.”
Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made comments that signaled the US support for Qatar’s rivals regarding the regional rift.
He called on Doha “to be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors. Qatar has a history of supporting groups that have spanned the spectrum of political expression, from activism to violence.”
The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) published his brickbats against Qatar in a report on Saturday.
On Thursday, US President Donald Trump made comments similar to those of Tillerson and accused Qatar of sponsoring terrorism at the highest levels.
Trump said he had decided “the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding… and its extremist ideology.”
The UAE’s Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba also hailed the US stance, noting that Qatar must acknowledge concerns about its “troubling support for extremism” and re-examine its regional policies.”
“The UAE welcomes President Trump’s leadership in challenging Qatar’s troubling support for extremism. The next step is for Qatar to acknowledge these concerns and commit to reexamine its regional policies,” he said in a statement seen by Reuters on Friday.
Merkel weighs in
Separately on Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed concerns about the situation in Qatar and urged all Persian Gulf nations and Iran and Turkey to work together to settle the regional crisis.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech in Mexico City, June 9, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
It would be impossible to sort out the “very unsettling” situation unless all regional actors were involved, Merkel said in a joint press conference with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in Mexico City.
“We have to see that the political solution of conflicts… such as the situation in Syria, such as the situation in Libya or the situation in Iraq, won’t happen if certain players are no longer even included in the conversation, and that includes Qatar, it includes Turkey, it includes Iran,” she said.
Merkel further emphasized that she wanted the balance of power to be maintained “sensibly” in the region.
The dispute between the Persian Gulf Arab countries is said to be an extension of a 2014 row, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain temporarily recalled their ambassadors from Doha over what they said to be Qatar’s support for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.