Jordan downgrades diplomatic relations with Qatar

The incident touched off a diplomatic row between Qatar and its neighbors.

Qatar has said it is open to talks, but Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Qatar must "change their policies" and stop supporting "extremist groups".

Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates were among those who joined Saudi Arabia on Monday in cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar.

"I think our relationship with Qatar is one that's strong". It is a major US intelligence and military hub, with about 10,000 USA troops deployed there, and a main base for US airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria.

DONALD Trump has taken credit for the isolation of Qatar by other Arab countries over its alleged support of terrorism in the region.

The announcement triggered a closing of borders, shutdown of flights, airspace and sea ports. FlightRadar24, a popular airplane tracking website, said Qatar Airways flights already had started to be affected, with flights to Europe being rerouted through Iran and Turkey.

The Saudi top diplomat did not specify what he wanted from Qatar, saying that "a number of steps can be taken, they know it". Trump's administration was going to be a mediator between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Several residents, reached on the internet chat, said that people were stocking up on food and cash.

Saif Al-Shamsi warned the social media users that any pro-Qatar online activity and participation is punishable and could land people from three to 15 years in prison or at least 500,000 dirhams (136,000 USA dollars) in fines.

Otaiba, one of the most powerful diplomats in Washington, figures in an unfolding regional crisis centered on US partner nation Qatar, which hosts America's largest military base in the region.

Amman has also withdrawn the licenses for a bureau of the Doha-based TV news channel Al-Jazeera.

Its actions are a study in contradictions.

There are about 10,000 US forces in Qatar. It is helping to fight the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, but it also supports Tehran-backed allies of the Assad government in Syria, including the Hezbollah movement.

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Trump sided with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries Tuesday in a deepening diplomatic crisis with Qatar, appearing to endorse the accusation that the oil-rich Persian Gulf nation is funding terrorist groups.

Those breaking ties with Qatar are the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the Maldives, Mauritania and Libya's eastern-based government.

US President Donald Trump - pictured during the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on 21 May.

Trump's tweets directly contradict his comments on Qatar when meeting with its leader, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, only a few weeks ago.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said he has always been familiar with Qatari leadership, said Tuesday at a press conference in New Zealand that there are a number of issues that have led to the frustration among regional leaders and the ultimate decisions to cut diplomatic ties with Doha.

Qatar is predominantly Sunni, but has a small Shiite minority.

A Hamas official says Saudi Arabia's call to Qatar to cut ties with the Palestinian group is "regrettable" and contradicts traditional Arab support for the Palestinian cause.

At any rate, Riyadh was confident enough to give the U.S. a heads-up only just before it made the announcement, blindsiding officials here.

But it's the middle of the Muslim Ramadan, then Eid.

On Tuesday morning, the president also tweeted criticism of major news outlets, which he accused of wanting him to curb his social media use.

"The US still wants to see this issue de-escalated and resolved immediately, in keeping with the principles that the president laid out in terms of defeating terror financing and extremism", he said. There's always been this tension with Qatar, this rivalry between the UAE and Qatar, the Saudis and Qatar.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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