Thursday, 22 February, 2018

Four states denounce United Nations mission report over Qatar crisis

Qatar Airways plane Tillerson, Mattis Meet with Qatari Officials Amid Tensions in Persian Gulf
Nellie Chapman | 31 January, 2018, 13:52

Two top US government officials called on Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to resolve their dispute with their neighbor Qatar, saying that regional stability is at stake.

AFP reported that the U.S. praised Qatar for its counterterrorism cooperation and warned that its rift with Saudi and other neighbours has hurt the fight against extremism.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis co-hosted at the Department of State the High-Level Opening Session of the Inaugural U.S. -Qatar Strategic Dialogue with their Qatari counterparts, namely, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Defense Minister Khalid bin Muhammad al-Atiyah.

On ongoing Gulf crisis, Secretary Tillerson said: "It is critical that all parties minimise rhetoric and work towards a resolution".

Al Jazeera reported that the two countries announced they would be signing a number of "major" agreements in the sectors of defence, trade, investment and energy.

Qatar is already investing more than $100bn in the United States economy, including $10bn earmarked for infrastructure, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said yesterday.

"The dispute has had direct negative consequences, economically and militarily for those involved, as well as the United States", Tillerson said in the presence of Qatar's foreign and defence ministers.

The meeting was the first session of the United States-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, which is aimed at strengthening security ties between the two. "This blockade disrupts the joint efforts in providing stability for the region", al-Thani said.

"A united Gulf Cooperation Council bolsters our effectiveness on many fronts, particularly on countering terrorism, defeating ISIS/Daesh, and countering the spread of Iran's malign influence", Mattis said.

In the meantime, the four countries affirmed that the boycott is not targeted against the Qatari people with whom the quartet have deeply rooted brotherly, tribal and fraternity bonds and ties. "Qatar did not waver then and it will not waver now".

As the Trump administration is weighing on reducing overseas USA military bases Qatar, which has been facing economic, political, diplomatic, and social blockade by Saudi Arabia led alliance that includes Egypt, Bahrain, and United Arab Emirates (UAE) to name a few, has taken up steps to woo the administration in making the US base in Qatar a more permanent one. Libya, Yemen and the Maldives followed suit.

Qatar has denied that it funds or supports extremist groups. "Qatar and the US are committed to delivering justice to our citizens".

Qatar hosts the largest concentrated military presence in the Middle East at the Al Udeid Air base, which is the center for USA air operations over Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan.

Roughly 10,000 USA service members are stationed at the air base.