US refers to Gulf row as 'family issue'

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
Published 24.06.2017 20:29

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has recently called the Qatar-Gulf rift as a "family issue" among Arab states and declined to say whether the newly articulated demands were legitimate.

Speaking in a press meeting at White House, Spicer said that the issue is "something that they want to and should work out for themselves." His comments sent mixed messages once again about the U.S.'s position on the crisis. Washington has alternated between stiff and soft approaches to the crisis and has constantly changed its position since the beginning. Although U.S. President Donald Trump initially supported the anti-Qatar move, there has been a shift in approach to the situation in which the U.S. has called on the Saudi-led group of countries to present their demands to Qatar. The United States hopes Arab countries involved in the diplomatic split with Qatar will soon present Doha a list of "reasonable and actionable" demands to move the crisis toward a resolution, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said previously.

Tillerson's comments came in a short statement a day after the U.S. State Department bluntly questioned Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirate's motives for announcing their boycott of Qatar on June 5, saying it was "mystified" the Gulf states had not released their grievances.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen cut ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism. Qatar has denied the accusations, saying the move to diplomatically isolate it was unjustified. Kuwait delivered the demands of the four Gulf Arab states to end the diplomatic crisis with Qatar on Friday. The 13 demands also include calls to shut down the Turkish military base in Qatar, the shutdown of several news networks and the cutting of diplomatic ties with Iran.

Qatar said on Saturday that it is looking over the list of demands, but added that the list was not reasonable or actionable.

"We are reviewing these demands out of respect for... regional security and there will be an official response from our ministry of foreign affairs," Sheikh Saif al-Thani, the director of Qatar's government communications office, said in a statement.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly voiced concern over the blockade on Qatar, calling on the Gulf states to resolve the situation before the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Turkey's presidential spokesperson, İbrahim Kalın, also said earlier this week that Saudi Arabia could play a very influential role in finding a peaceful solution.

In addition, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu paid an official visit to Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as part of Ankara's efforts. Meanwhile since the blockade began, Turkey has already sent 105 cargo planes of food to Qatar.

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