USA urges Arab nations to ease blockade of Qatar

Five countries - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Yemen and Bahrain - cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday over allegations that Doha is supporting Islamist groups and courting Iran.

The ostensible complaint about Qatar's financing of extremists is grounded in truth about that financing but is an unpersuasive instance of the pot calling the kettle black, given the Saudis' own record in furnishing such support to radicals.

"We don't see a military solution as an option" to the crisis, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said.

"Qatar being made an example out of. means that Haftar, Egypt and the UAE will experience much less diplomatic pushback as they ramp up their military campaign inside Libya itself", said Jalel Harchaoui, a researcher at Paris 8 University.

On Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country hoped the rift between the "Muslim countries" would end "through peaceful dialogue before the religious holiday", referring to Eid al-Fitr which marks the end of Ramadan.

The sanctions list further tightens the screws on Qatar, home to a key United States military base and the host of the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

On Friday, Qatar's foreign minister described the blockade as a violation of global law and said there was an attempt to mobilise worldwide opinion against the Gulf emirate.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain designated on Friday 59 individuals and 12 institutions that have financed terrorist organisations and received support from Qatar.

In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stepped up military cooperation with Qatar and may send more troops there.

"Qatar for many years has taken steps to support certain organizations and intervened in situations", Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Wednesday.

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- Bahrain joins UAE in banning people from publishing expressions of sympathy, towards Qatar, including on social media and other forms of communication. Offenders will be punished with up to five years in prison and a fine.

- Qatar's foreign minister says that the Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) agreements signed with the UAE will be respected. Iran has offered to provide the 40% of Qatar's food supply that it no longer receives from Saudi Arabia as a result of the blockade.

It was released hours after Sheikh Mohammed said Doha would not "surrender" and rejected interference in its foreign policy. During my trips to Saudi Arabia over the past three years, I was repeatedly asked whether recent USA disinterest was merely indicative of the Obama administration, or whether it suggested a larger US trend.

When it comes time to approve the large arms-sales package to Saudi Arabia, Congress should measure the health of the new partnership in large part by the extent to which the two nations are working together in both the formulation and execution of strategy.

Erdogan approved the legislation late on Thursday, his office said.

Mr Trump said Qatar has historically been a funder of terrorism at a "very high level" and that he had decided it was time to call on the country to stop.

"The President offered to help the parties resolve their differences, including through a meeting at the White House if necessary", a White House statement said.

While the football club's sponsorship deal with Qatar Airways ends June 30 - with Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten occupying the coveted spot during the 2017-18 season - the increasing tensions in the Gulf region have inflicted substantial collateral damage.

"We lead the region in attacking the roots of terrorism - by giving young people hope through jobs, replacing weapons with pens by educating hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and funding local community programs globally to challenge extremist agendas", it said.

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