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No Grievances? US State Dept Questions Gulf’s Qatar Boycott 

The state department said it was “mystified” that the Gulf states had not released their grievances over Qatar.

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The US State Department bluntly questioned on Tuesday the motives of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for their boycott of Doha, saying it was “mystified” that the Gulf states had not released their grievances over Qatar.

In Washington's strongest language yet on the Gulf dispute, the State Department said the more time goes by, “the more doubt is raised about the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”

At this point, we are left with one simple question – Were the actions really about their concerns regarding Qatar’s alleged support for terrorism or were they about the long-simmering grievances between and among the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
Heather Nauert, State Department spokeswoman
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The State Department’s comments came in contrast to the language taken by US President Donald Trump who has accused Qatar of being a “high level” sponsor of terrorism.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar are key American allies. The fact that the State Department bluntly questioned Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s actions in public suggests Washington was keen for the parties to end the dispute.

“We’ve just said to the parties involved: Let’s finish this. Let’s get this going,” Nauert said.

Qatar hosts a vital US military base, Al Udeid, to which more than 11,000 US and coalition forces are deployed or assigned and from which more than 100 aircraft operate.

The UAE, which along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain imposed the measures to isolate Qatar, has said the sanctions could last for years unless Doha accepted demands that the Arab powers plan to reveal in coming days.

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The State Department, headed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was encouraging “all sides to de-escalate tensions and engage in constructive dialogue,” Nauert said.

A US official said Washington is urging Qatar to take steps to defuse the crisis, including signing on to proposals being drawn up the Treasury Department to strengthen controls against financing of militant groups.

But this official and a second US official said it was inaccurate to single Qatar out, and that the Saudis, Emiratis and other Gulf states face similar challenges in countering terrorist financing.

Qatar’s foreign minister, who is expected to travel to Washington next week, said Doha would not negotiate with its neighbours to resolve the Gulf dispute unless they first lift the trade and travel boycott they imposed two weeks ago. He added that Doha still believed a solution was possible.

Qatar has denied accusations by its neighbours that it funds terrorism, foments regional instability or has cosied up to their enemy Iran.

(The article has been edited for length.)

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