In early June 2017, long standing tensions between Arab nations resulted in Saudia Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain cutting ties with Qatar. In response, President Trump tweeted:
On June 9, 2017, during a Joint Press Conference with President Iohannis of Romania, Trump commented on the situation: “The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level, and in the wake of that conference, nations came together and spoke to me about confronting Qatar over its behavior. So 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, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, our great generals and military people, the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding — they have to end that funding — and its extremist ideology in terms of funding.”
Despite Trump’s concerns about Qatar funding terrorism:
- Qatari citizens who fund terrorist groups may still freely travel to America, since Qatar is not included in Trump’s travel ban.
- About one week after Trump’s official statement on Qatar, the U.S. finalized a deal with Qatar, selling a country that funds terrorism $12 billion worth of U.S. F-15 fighter jets.
If Donald Trump were serious about fighting terrorism, then his actions would match his words. Saudia Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain have blockaded Qatar, and demanded that Qatar:
- Sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
- Hand over all individuals who are wanted by Saudia Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain for terrorism.
- Stop funding any extremist entities that are designated as terrorist groups by the U.S.
- Shut down diplomatic posts in Iran.
- Expel any members of the Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard.
- Only conduct trade and commerce with Iran that complies with U.S. sanctions.
- Shut down all affiliates of Al-Jazeera.
Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is acting as mediator between Qatar and countries enforcing the blockade. In July, he reached “a memorandum of understanding” with Qatar which is designed to combat the financing of terrorism. Based on this understanding, Tillerson is asking the four Arab countries to lift their blockade.
Trump’s Strategy for Qatar
President Trump likes to talk, and tweet, about the need to keep our country safe from terrorism. But, his strategy for Qatar shows a completely different picture:
- Trump will continue to allow the sale of military equipment to Qatar.
- Based on a simple promise from Qatar to work with the U.S. to stop funding terrorist organizations, Trump’s State Department will also lobby Qatar’s neighbors to end their blockade.
- Even though Trump understands that Qatar has a history of funding terrorist groups, he has chosen NOT to include Qatar in his travel ban.