US President Donald Trump has offered to help resolve a worsening diplomatic crisis between Qatar and several Arab countries in the Middle East, a day after praising a move by Saudi Arabia and its allies to cut diplomatic relations with Doha.
In a phone call on Wednesday with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Trump urged him to resolve the worst crisis among Persian Gulf Arab states in decades, the White House said.
Trump told Qatar’s emir that it was important that countries in the region work together “to prevent the financing of terrorist organizations and stop the promotion of extremist ideology.”
Trump also spoke on Wednesday with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi in the UAE. A day earlier, Trump discussed the crisis with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, which is leading the campaign against Qatar.
The split among the Arab states erupted last month after Trump visited Saudi Arabia where he accused Iran of "destabilizing interventions" in Arab lands.
Saudi Arabia was the first stop on Trump's first international trip on May 20. No other US president has made the kingdom their first foreign visit.
Analysts said Trump’s public support for Saudi Arabia has emboldened the regime to adopt a more hawkish regional diplomacy.
Trump’s own comments on Tuesday heightened the dispute when he tweeted that his recent visit to the region prompted Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, and several other countries to cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of funding radical terrorist groups.
“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology,” Trump tweeted. “Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!”
Saudi Arabia has long had a dispute with Qatar, but the tensions intensified last month when Qatar’s state-run news agency released comments attributed to the Qatari emir in which he described Iran as a force for stability and accused the Saudis of promoting extremism.
Faced with the backlash, the Qatari government was quick to claim that hackers had broken into the QNA website and published the “fake news.”
Back in 2014, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar in protest at what they called Doha's "interference in their internal affairs."