Qatar V Saudi Arabia: Qatar and USA hold military drill – Latest on Gulf crisis | World | News

The American military and Qatari armed forces carried out the parachute exercise in a show of military co-operation in Doha earlier today. 

The joint exercises comes more than 70 days after Saudi Arabia and three other Arab states cuts ties with Qatar. 

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed an unprecedented land, sea and air blockade on their rich Gulf neighbour on June 5. 

Qatar has rejected accusations that it supports extremists groups. In a bid to end the Gulf crisis, the US and Qatar signed a counter terrorism agreement last month.  

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has said that the countries behind the blockade have not yet provided evidence to back up accusations that Qatar supports terrorism. 

He said: “We have seen continuing escalation and attempt to market the accusation that Qatar supports terrorism without providing any evidence…

“Unfortunately, this is their constant behaviour since the beginning of the crisis.”

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has tried to protect US interests by rowing back on Donald Trump’s apparent support for the boycott early on.

Qatar is home to the biggest US military base in the Middle East and Doha’s isolation from its Arab neighbours could push it closer to Iran.  

Nevertheless Mohamed Abdelmeguid, Middle East and Africa analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said the US remains divided on Qatar. 

He said: “The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has continued to push for dialogue and an end to the boycott of Qatar to resolve the Gulf crisis. 

“However, his intervention does not appear to be making much progress. 

“Meanwhile, deep divisions remain in the US, where there are influential politicians arguing both for and against Qatar’s objectives in the Middle East.” 

He said Mr Tillerson has repeatedly praised Qatar for signing the US-Qatar agreement and has called for the quartet to end the land border closure with Saudi Arabia as a sign of good faith.

“However, despite this support for Qatar by Mr Tillerson, there continues to be a strong anti-Qatar trend,” he said. 

“This includes US think-tanks, congressmen and other politicians who have their own concerns about Qatar’s foreign policies and purported support for terrorist groups, as well as those who have been lobbied by the UAE and Saudi Arabia and pro-Israel elements, who particularly oppose Qatar’s hosting of Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist group.” 

On June 6, Donald Trump tweeted about the Qatar crisis in relation to his state visit to Saudi Arabia in May, which may have emboldened the Saudis.  

He said: “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism and all reference was pointing to Qatar. 

“Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to horror of terrorism!”

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