Trump thanks Qatar for counterterrorism efforts amid rift with UAE


The White House said U.S. President Donald Trump spoke on Monday with Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and thanked him for Qatar's "action in counterterrorism and extremism," reiterating Washington's support for unity among Gulf Arab nations.

The phone call came amid Doha's rift with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over allegations of the imprisonment of Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family, and the UAE's claims that one of its civilian planes was intercepted by Qatari warplanes. During the phone call with Sheikh Tamim, Trump also reiterated Washington's support for unity among Gulf Arab nations, the White House said.

In the wake of the rift, Sheikh Tamim came to Ankara on Monday to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to discuss bilateral relations and regional matters.

The visit came after Sheikh Abdullah, an exiled Qatari royal family member who was once promoted by Saudi Arabia amid its ongoing dispute with Doha, appeared in an online video Sunday claiming he was being held against his will in the UAE, an allegation an Abu Dhabi official denied.

The video of Sheikh Abdullah, a little-known royal family member until the boycott of Qatar by four Arab nations, offered new fuel to the months-long stalemate. "I am a guest of Sheikh Mohammed, but it is not hosting now. It is now imprisonment," Sheikh Abdullah said. "They told me not to leave, and I am afraid something will happen to me and that they will blame Qatar."

The UAE, on the other hand, claimed a civilian plane was intercepted by Qatari warplanes on Monday, which was denied by Doha.

Qatar's Foreign Ministry called the UAE's allegations "totally false" in a statement Monday night. "It seems that the UAE is trying to draw attention away from other incidents that have caused media crises," it said.

According to Emirates News Agency (WAM), the UAE's General Civilian Aviation Authority (GCAA) released a statement saying that the plane flying to Bahrain was intercepted by Qatari planes shortly after it took off.

In early June, a group of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia abruptly severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a blockade on the tiny Gulf emirate, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Trump had also then accused Doha of funding militant groups, saying that Qatar had historically supported terrorism "at a very high level."

The Qatari government has denied the accusation, blasting the blockade as unjustified and a violation of international law.

Amid the riff, Turkey has provided increased support to Qatar, boosting food and other exports to meet the country's shortages.

Turkey and Qatar's defense ties have also strengthened in recent years in line with the countries' political alliance. Turkey operates a military base in Qatar, and Turkish troops are deployed in the Tariq bin Ziyad Base under an agreement signed in 2014.

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