Published: Thu, June 22, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Amid diplomatic crisis Pentagon agrees $12 billion jet deal with Qatar

Amid diplomatic crisis Pentagon agrees $12 billion jet deal with Qatar

US Ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith says she is stepping down amid a deepening rift among Washington's Persian Gulf Arab allies.

Qatar said the Saudi offer confirmed that the closure of transport links "is a siege, not a boycott."At Qatar's Hamad port on Wednesday, workers were busy unloading containers of food and building materials, while another ship carrying livestock, including chickens and sheep from Australia, was at the quayside".

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have also barred new subscriptions and imports of satellite decoders for the Qatari-owned beIN Media Group, which includes sports and movie channels.

While the dispute hasn't escalated to a military confrontation, Qatar's military is dwarfed by neighboring Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of its biggest opponents in the crisis.

Closer to home, Qatar is undermining stability in Bahrain by supporting terrorist groups such as Saraya Al Ashtar, a group that has carried out bombings and assassinations against security forces.

As of June 10, eight countries cut their ties with Qatar, namely Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Yemen, Mauritania, Maldives and Comoros.

The flight ban came as part of a diplomatic boycott of Qatar by Gulf states which has blockaded the peninsular state.

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Praising the move on Twitter, Trump appeared to take credit for the political and economic blockade of Qatar, led by the oil-rich Gulf monarchies, implying that it was a direct effect of his first foreign trip across Middle East, which he boasted "was already paying off".

"For this objective, the prime minister will undertake visits to Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey", it said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, in Washington for talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, insisted that moves to isolate Qatar were reasonable.

The island state has recently stepped up a campaign against dissent, closing down two major political groupings, revoking the citizenship of the spiritual leader of the Shi'ite community and putting some rights activist on trial.

"I would characterise the mood and the approach to that as being one that is hopeful, that believes that the worst is behind us", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday.

It also comes amid diplomatic fallout between a Saudi-led bloc of nations and Qatar. Analysts have also said that the dispute is driving by a belief that Qatar is too closely aligned with Iran.

Morocco's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a number of communiqués this week stating that King Mohammed VI is closely following the development of what has become known as the Gulf Crisis, and announced that the monarch is ready to offer mediation to solve the issue.

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