US State Department 'mystified' by Gulf states’ action on Qatar
20 Jun 2017 - 23:18
WASHINGTON: The US State Department said on Tuesday it was "mystified" that Gulf Arab states had not released to the public or to Qatar details of the grievances that prompted their economic and political boycott of the country.
In Washington's strongest language yet on the Gulf dispute, the State Department said the more time goes by, "the more doubt is raised about the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and the UAE".
"At this point, we are left with one simple question: Were the actions really about their concerns regarding Qatar's alleged support for terrorism or were they about the long-simmering grievances between and among the GCC countries," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, referring to the five-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.
Qatar hosts a vital US military base which more than 11,000 US and coalition forces are deployed or assigned to and from which more than 100 aircraft operate.
The United Arab Emirates, which along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain imposed the measures to isolate Qatar, said this week the sanctions could last for years unless Doha accepted demands that the Arab powers plan to reveal in coming days.
Qatar's foreign minister said Doha would not negotiate with its neighbors to resolve the Gulf dispute unless they first lift the trade and travel boycott they imposed two weeks ago. He added that Doha still believed a solution was possible.
"Now that it has been more than two weeks since the embargo was started, we are mystified that the Gulf states have not released to the public nor to the Qataris the details about the claims that they are making toward Qatar," Nauert added.
Qatar has denied accusations by its neighbors that it funds terrorism, foments regional instability or has cosied up to their enemy Iran.
The dispute has opened a rift among some of the main US allies in the Middle East. Over the last two weeks US President Donald Trump has taken a tougher stance against Qatar, while the State Department had previously sought to remain neutral.
(Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and James Dalgleish)