Trump takes sides in Arab rift, suggests support for isolation of Qatar

"They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar".

So any extended disruption to their ties with foreign banks could be awkward, though the government of the world's biggest natural gas exporter has massive financial reserves which it could use to support them.

The comments lent credence to a view held by some analysts that Trump in his Middle East trip emboldened the Arab nations to take action even though Qatar is a USA ally and hosts a US military base.

"On this scale, it's unprecedented", said Hatoon al-Fassi, a Saudi historian of Gulf Affairs and Women's Studies at Qatar University. "We have no plans to change our posture in Qatar". Qatar hosts one of the largest U.S. military bases in the region.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed the president's tweets are "official statements" of his views, but he described a softer USA stance on the dispute.

In 2009, then-Secretary of State Clinton declared in a diplomatic cable that "donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide".

On Monday, risk consultancy the Eurasia Group said, "The recent measures by the anti-Qatar alliance signal commitment to forcing a complete change in Qatari policy or creating an environment for leadership change in Doha".

United States and European authorities have complained for years about funding for extremists from Saudi Arabia and other nations in the Gulf region.

"Strict and firm action will be taken against anyone who shows sympathy or any form of bias towards Qatar, or against anyone who objects to the position of the United Arab Emirates, whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form", UAE Attorney-General Hamad Saif al-Shamsi told Gulf News.

She could not say whether Trump was aware of the preparation to sever ties during his visit to Saudi Arabia. "One of the things we will discuss is the [Qatari] purchase of lots of lovely military equipment".

Qatar's neighbors have long accused the country of tolerating or even encouraging support for extremist groups, including al-Qaida's Syria branch - all of which Qatar denies.

"They are host to our operational base", Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said when asked if Qatar is a supporter of terrorism. "They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out", he said.

Saudi Arabia and three other U.S. allies in the region-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. Trump's visit also culminated in what the administration said was $110 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

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Saudi Arabia led a move to isolate Qatar on Monday, June 5, accusing the energy-rich emirate of backing Tehran and Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

He added that Qatar was undermining the Palestinian Authority and Egypt by supporting Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and said stopping these policies would "contribute to stability in the Middle East".

Pakistan has maintained official silence about the latest rift between Qatar and the other Gulf nations.

The U.S. military began moving into Al Udeid not long after the September 11 terror attacks when Saudi Arabia asked the Americans to leave. In response to Kuwaiti urging, al-Thani agreed to postpone a speech about the crisis, Qatar's foreign minister told Al-Jazeera.

Addressing foreign ambassadors at a Ramadan dinner Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan commended Qatar for what he called a "cool-headed and constructive" stance in the dispute and said Qatar is leading an "effective fight" against terrorist groups. Turkey enjoys good relations with the parties in the conflict.

Erdogan also spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman and the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait.

Meanwhile, the Philippines said it will temporarily suspend the deployment of Filipino workers to Qatar. More than 1 million Filipinos live and work in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain.

Soccer's world governing body Federation Internationale de Football Association has said it remains in regular contact with Qatar, which will host the 2022 World Cup.

"I think our relationship with Qatar is one that's strong".

Besides Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the Gulf council includes the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which have sided with the Saudis in the dispute, as well as Oman and Kuwait, which did not join the boycott of Qatar. On its website, the carrier said the suspension of its flights took effect Tuesday and customers are being offered a refund.

As well as closing the office, Saudi Arabia withdrew the channel's licence needed to broadcast.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE gave Qatari nationals two weeks to leave, banned their own citizens from travelling to Qatar, and cut all transport links. In Doha, anxious residents emptied store shelves and stocked up on other key supplies.

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