Trump says time for Qatar to stop funding terror

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US President Donald Trump answers questions during a joint news conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at the White House in Washington. (Reuters)
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US President Donald Trump and Romania's President Klaus Iohannis give a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House. (AFP)
Updated 10 June 2017

Trump says time for Qatar to stop funding terror

JEDDAH: The US president and his secretary of state denounced Qatar Friday in the strongest and clearest terms since the beginning of the diplomatic crisis, demanding that Doha immediately stop funding terrorism in the region.
President Donald Trump accused Qatar of funding terror “at a very high level,” and said solving the problem in the tiny Gulf nation could be “the beginning of the end of terrorism.”
Addressing a joint press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at the White House on Friday, Trump said Qatar “has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.”
Praising Saudi King Salman as “my friend,” Trump said he hopes the summit he attended in Riyadh will be the beginning of the end of terrorism funding.
“We had a decision to make, do we take the easy road or do we finally take a hard but necessary action. We have to stop the funding of terrorism. I decided... the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding.”
Trump said Arab leaders he met with in Saudi Arabia last month had urged him to confront Qatar over its behavior.
Other US officials have said Qatar has already taken some steps to reduce terror funding but that the steps are insufficient.
It was not immediately clear how Trump’s sharp condemnation might affect US cooperation with Qatar, which hosts some 10,000 US troops and a major US air base that serves as a staging ground for operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Qatari Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Qatar must do more, “more quickly” to combat extremism.
Delivering a short statement at the State Department in Washington on Friday, he said: “US expectation is that Gulf countries would immediately take steps to de-escalate situation in region.”
“The GCC must emerge united and stronger,” he said.
Tillerson called on Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to ease the  blockade on Qatar.
He faulted Qatar for allowing funds to flow to extremist groups. He said the US was asking Qatar to “be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors.”
“Qatar has a history of supporting groups that span the spectrum of political expression, from activism to violence,” Tillerson said.
He added: “He (the Qatari emir) must do more, and he must do it more quickly.”
Tillerson said the crisis was indeed affecting the US military.
Western diplomats accuse Qatar’s government of allowing or even encouraging the funding of some extremists, such as Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.
On Friday, Qatar’s neighbors put 12 organizations and 59 people on a terror sanctions list and described them as being associated with Qatar, in a fresh attempt to increase pressure.
Qatar, which has vowed to ride out the isolation, dismissed the terror listing as part of “baseless allegations that hold no foundation in fact.”
— With input from AP

Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

Updated 51 min 33 sec ago

Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

  • Expert says sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in Libyan conflict unlikely

JEDDAH: With the conclusion of the Libya peace summit in Berlin on Sunday, it remains to be seen whether Turkey is willing to implement the provisions of the final communique and stay out of the conflict.

Ankara is accused of sending Syrian fighters to the Libyan battlefront in support of Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

During the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron voiced concerns over the arrival of Syrian and other foreign fighters in Tripoli, saying: “That must end.” 

Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst at Oxford University, speculates that Turkey will not deploy more troops.  

But he told Arab News that a sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in the Libyan conflict is unlikely for the moment as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will remain present “until the GNA’s future is secured.”

Noting the difficulty of enforcing the Berlin agreement, Ramani said Turkey might not be the first mover in breaching a cease-fire in Libya.

But he added that Turkey will not hesitate to deploy forces and upend the agreement if Haftar makes any moves that it considers “provocative.”

The summit called for sanctions on those who violate the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya.

Turkish opposition MPs recently criticized the expanded security pact between Ankara and the GNA, saying the dispatch of materials and equipment to Libya breaches the UN arms embargo.

Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.

Micha’el Tanchum, Analyst

The summit does not seem to have resolved ongoing disputes regarding the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, a planned natural gas pipeline connecting eastern Mediterranean energy resources to mainland Greece via Cyprus and Crete.

The Cypriot presidency accused Turkey of being a “pirate state,” citing Ankara’s recent drilling off its coasts just a day after Brussels warned Turkey that its plans were illegal.

Erdogan dismissed the warning and threatened to send to the EU some 4 million refugees that Turkey is hosting.

Turkey dispatched its Yavuz drillship to the south of Cyprus on Sunday, based on claims deriving from the maritime delimitation agreement with the GNA.

Turkey’s insistence on gas exploration in the region may be subject to sanctions as early as this week, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday.

Aydin Sezer, an Ankara-based political analyst, drew attention to Article 25 of the Berlin final communique, which underlined the “Libyan Political Agreement as a viable framework for the political solution in Libya,” and called for the “establishment of a functioning presidency council and the formation of a single, unified, inclusive and effective Libyan government approved by the House of Representatives.”

Sezer told Arab News: “Getting approval from Libya’s Haftar-allied House of Representatives would be a serious challenge for Ankara because Haftar recently considered all agreements with Turkey as a betrayal. This peace conference once more showed that Turkey should keep away from Libya.”

Many experts remain skeptical about the possible outcome of the summit. 

Micha’el Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, said: “Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.”