Bahrain foreign minister says all options open on Qatar

Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.—Reuters  File

Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.—Reuters File

President Donald Trump changed course on Qatar Wednesday, a day after praising a move by other Gulf nations to sever diplomatic relations with Doha, which hosts a U.S. military base crucial to the fight against ISIS.

"During my recent trip to the Middle East, I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology", Trump said in a series of morning tweets. "They said they would take a hard line on funding".

Qatar denounced today that the ultimatum that was given by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain to its citizens to leave those countries is a violation of human rights and requires UN intervention.

Saudi Arabia and three other countries severed ties to Qatar on Monday and moved to cut off land, sea and air routes to the energy-rich nation, accusing it of supporting regional terror groups.

UAE-based newspaper Gulf News and pan-Arab channel Al-Arabiya reported the crackdown on expressions of sympathy with Qatar.

In a later official statement, Trump urged the Gulf to be "united for peace and security in the region".

The crisis in the region escalated further Wednesday when the UAE decreed that showing support or sympathy for Qatar online was punishable by up to 15 years in jail or a fine of $136,000.

Trump spoke with the emir of Qatar on Wednesday, the White House announced, and "offered to help the parties resolve their differences", by hosting a meeting if necessary. The sudden isolation has also led to Qatar holding talks with Turkey, Iran and others to secure food and water, said a Qatari official, who added that there was enough grain to last four weeks, and Qatar also had large strategic food reserves.

At the State Department, an official said in an email that "the tweets are not incompatible". "This is not about regime change - this is about change of policy, change of approach", Gargash said. Al Thani, the ambassador, insisted his country had no idea why Qatar's neighbors were picking a fight.

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The United Arab Emirates had already said Qatari nationals would not be allowed to enter the country or cross its points of entry, although the practical effects on airline passengers had been unclear until now. An Islamic Religious Council of Singapore spokesman said alternative flights to Saudi Arabia were being sought, with less than 200 people affected. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt banned Qatari planes from landing and forbade them from crossing their airspace.

Kuwait is leading efforts to find a mediated solution.

Kuwait's Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah was met planeside by Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, when he arrived on Wednesday night. Turkey enjoys good relations with the parties in the conflict.

According to presidential sources, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has held phone calls with leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, Jordan's King Abdullah II and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to ease the unprecedented diplomatic dispute in the Middle East.

"Nobody wants to hurt Qatar". Qatar, a desert country heavily dependent on food imports to feed its mostly foreign population of 2.6 million, has told residents it has taken measures to assure that normal life continues.

FIFA, soccer's world governing body, has said it remains in regular contact with Qatar, which will host the 2022 World Cup.

To build infrastructure in general as well as to prepare to host the Fifa World Cup football tournament in 2022, Qatar's government has borrowed at home and overseas.

Qatar Airways did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

He said negotiations are underway with Qataris and a decision for food export will be finalized by next week.

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