WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump took credit Tuesday for severed ties between four Arab Gulf nations and Qatar, touting Qatar’s isolation as potentially “the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism.”
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain ended diplomatic and commercial relations on Monday with Qatar, saying it supports terror groups.
“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology,” the president tweeted. “Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!”
He was referring to his speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last month, when he urged allies to drive out extremists by denying them safe harbor, funding and social status.
“So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off,” Trump posted. “They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”
Trump did not mention U.S. military and academic ties to Qatar, which is home to campuses for Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown and Northwestern universities as well as Weill Cornell Medical College, among other American institutions. The Gulf nation also hosts a major U.S. military base, the U.S. Central Command’s forward headquarters in the Middle East.
In contrast with Trump’s tweets, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert described the U.S.-Qatari relationship as strong and commended Qatar for its efforts to stop terror financing while saying more must be done.
“The United States and its coalition were grateful to the Qataris for their long-standing support of our presence there in that nation,” she said of Al-Udeid Air Base. “They have helped to provide us with an enduring commitment to regional security.”
She said the State and Defense departments have “no plans to change our posture in Qatar.”
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump’s meeting with the emir of Qatar was productive and noted Qatar’s contribution to the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center in Riyadh.
The United States wants all parties to resume cooperation and see the situation “de-escalated and resolved immediately,” Spicer said.
CNN reported Tuesday that U.S. investigators believe Russian hackers planted a false news report that fueled the diplomatic crisis isolating Qatar from its Middle Eastern neighbors.