Trump claims credit for Qatar blockade as he accuses Gulf nation of funding terror ‘at very high level’

But the American president’s latest comments come as the US bemoaned the effect the country’s blockade could have on American military operations

Donald Trump had claimed credit for the Qatar blockade as he accused the gulf nation of funding terrorism ‘at a very high level’.

But the American president’s latest comments come as the US bemoaned the effect the country’s blockade could have on American military operations.

Trump called on Qatar to stop funding groups that commit terrorism, during a joint news conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

“No civilized nation can tolerate this violence or allow this wicked ideology to spread on its shores,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

Trump said he spoke with regional leaders in the wake of a recent meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and he had decided it was time to call on Qatar to end its support of terrorist groups.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar on Monday over long-standing allegations that Doha was courting Iran and fomenting instability in the region.

“The nation of Qatar unfortunately has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level,” Trump said.

“We had a decision to make, do we take the easy road or do we finally take a hard but necessary action. We have to stop the funding of terrorism.

“I decided… the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding.”

Trump with Iohannis at the White House (Photo: AFP)

The hawkish tone Trump brought in his visit to over 50 Muslim leaders in Riyadh on Tehran and on terrorism is seen to have laid the groundwork for the diplomatic crisis.

On Tuesday President Trump tweeted: “During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology.

“So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off.

“They said they would take a hard line on funding… extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”

But the president’s latest comments came just as Pentagon said the Qatar blockade was hindering the ability to plan for long-term operations as the nation hosts the biggest US military base in the Middle East, Al Udeid.

“While current operations from Al Udeid Air Base have not been interrupted or curtailed, the evolving situation is hindering our ability to plan for longer-term military operations,” Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

Qatar’s foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (Photo: REUTERS)

Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar is home to more than 11,000 US and coalition forces and an important base for the fight against Islamic State.

He did not explain how exactly it was affecting planning for longer-term operations.

But Davis said Qatar remained critical for air operations against Islamic State.

 

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