Trump Says Arab Leaders Accused Qatar of Funding Extremism
EghtesadOnline: President Donald Trump said Mideast leaders he met last month accused Qatar of financing extremism, remarks that analysts say may deepen Doha’s isolation as it faces unprecedented punitive measures from a Saudi-led alliance.
“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology,” Trump said on Twitter Tuesday. “Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!”
During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
According to Bloomberg, Trump’s comment came a day after the White House said the president wanted to “de-escalate” the crisis and is committed to holding talks with all parties. The kingdom and three regional allies -- the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain -- accused their fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member of supporting a range of violent groups, from proxies of Shiite Muslim Iran to the Sunni militants of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. They suspended flights and sea travel to Qatar, ordering Qatari diplomats and citizens out.
Trump’s “tweet fuels more conflict, increases tensions and will be used by those who are trying to demonize Qatar,” said Mahjoob Zweiri a professor of Middle Eastern politics at Qatar University in Doha.
Qatar has dismissed the Saudi charges as baseless, and said the Saudis are seeking to dominate the region.
The crisis pits U.S. allies against each other, disrupting trade, flights and business activity in one of the world’s most strategically important regions. The Saudi-led action has prompted some analysts to openly speculate about the possibility of regime change in Qatar, the No. 1 exporter of liquefied natural gas, whose sovereign wealth fund owns stakes in global companies from Barclays Plc to Credit Suisse Group.
Qatar’s influence goes beyond money. It’s also a home to the forward headquarters of CENTCOM, the U.S. military’s central command in the region.
“It’s not a coincidence for the spat between Qatar and Saudi Arabia to erupt right after Trump’s visit to the region,” Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, said by phone. “Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. have decided to put pressure on Qatar, which so far has seemed to refrain from pursuing equally harsh policies toward Iran. Trump’s latest tweet is a reflection of his anti-Iran stance.”
The escalation in tensions hit Qatari stocks on Monday, with the benchmark QE Index falling the most since 2009. The country’s main stock gauge extended its losses on Tuesday, dropping 1.6 percent.