Trump Doubles Down on Qatar, Even as Tillerson Urges Calm in Gulf Crisis

President Donald Trump on Friday doubled down on his criticism of Qatar, the tiny Gulf country involved in a spiraling diplomatic crisis with its Arab neighbors.

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

Trump’s comments came minutes after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for calm and an ease to the blockade imposed against Qatar by its neighbors.

Tillerson said the blockade was causing “unintended” humanitarian and business consequences and was “hindering U.S. military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS,” or the Islamic State terrorist group.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt this week imposed the economic and diplomatic blockade on Qatar, in a severe escalation of a long-running regional dispute.

Those nations, most notably Saudi Arabia, disagree with Qatar over the role of Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as Iran.

U.S. cautious

The U.S. has taken a careful diplomatic approach to the dispute, allying itself with both Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The latter hosts the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East, which is involved in anti-IS operations.

Nonetheless, Trump has been unafraid to deliver unusually sharp rebukes of Qatar. Earlier in the week, Trump sent a series of tweets seemingly celebrating, and even taking credit for, its regional isolation.

Source: Voice of America