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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Qatar claims it has US backing in Gulf crisis

Doha's foreign minister claims to be ready for 'military action' despite Arab Quartet's commitment to political means

Qatar's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has claimed his country has the United States’ backing to resolve the dispute with its Arab neighbours. Denis Balibouse/ Reuters
Qatar's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has claimed his country has the United States’ backing to resolve the dispute with its Arab neighbours. Denis Balibouse/ Reuters

Qatar’s foreign minister has claimed his country has the United States’ backing to resolve the dispute with its Arab neighbours.

During a visit to Washington DC, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said on Friday that Qatar is prepared if Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt were to take military action against Doha.

The quartet cut all diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5 over its support for extremists and interference in the affairs of other countries. Kuwait has attempted to mediate in the Gulf dispute.

The boycotting countries have also demanded that Doha cool its relations with Tehran, which has also interfered in other nations’ affairs.

The Arab Quartet have repeatedly said that it had not considered military action against Qatar. Officials from the four countries have repeatedly said they expect Qatar to act to curb support for extremists, particularly in financing and broadcasting.

Sheikh Mohammed said the Trump administration had offered to host mediation talks at the Camp David presidential retreat to resolve the dispute, although only Qatar had agreed.

“The Middle East needs to be addressed as the top priority of the foreign policy agenda of the United States,” the Qatari Foreign Minister said.

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Sheikh Mohammed said he will meet US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson next week after having talks this week with Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker and ranking member Ben Cardin as well as other congressional leaders.

The Qatari foreign minister said it was “well prepared” and would be able to rely on its defence partners France, Turkey, the UK and the US, which has a base in Qatar, if its Arab neighbours took military action.

“We have enough friends in order to stop them from taking these steps,” but “there is a pattern of unpredictability in their behaviour so we have to keep all the options on the table for us,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

On the US military presence, “if there is any aggression when it comes to Qatar, those forces will be affected,” he added.

In an email, a Pentagon Spokesman said the US had no plans to change its stance in Qatar, adding that the US believed the common fight against terrorism in the region was more effective when the Gulf countries were united.

“We encourage all our partners in the region to reduce tensions and work towards common solutions that enable regional security,” Marine Corps Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said.