UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY) – US President Donald Trump welcomed Qatar’s Prince Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the White House, about a year after his country was condemned as a “financier of terrorism.”
Trump was initially a supporter of Saudi Arabia and a number of Arab countries when they cut ties with Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism.
But he praised the Emir of Qatar on Tuesday as a “big advocate” to fight terrorism financing.
Trump also said the prince was a “great man” and a “friend of mine”.
Sheikh Tamim said the Qatari authorities had not and will not tolerate “people financing terrorism” and that Trump had “provided a lot of help” in supporting Qatar during the partial “siege” that is still in place.
The dispute began in June when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar.
Yemen, the Maldives and Libya have cut ties with Qatar.
The crisis has led to the closure of Qatar’s only land borders, the banning of Qatar-flagged vessels or Qatar’s docking at many ports, and many countries in the region have closed their airspace to Qatar.
The boycott countries have accused Qatar of supporting terrorist groups in the region and of rapprochement with Iran, which shares a huge offshore oil field.
Qatar has agreed to support Islamist groups that some neighboring countries consider terrorist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. But denies its support for militant jihadist groups linked to al Qaeda or the organization of the Islamic state.
In exchange for ending the partial siege, Qatar’s neighboring countries demanded the closure of Al-Jazeera network, Turkish military equipment, severing ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and limiting its relations with Iran.
Qatar has rejected the demands, saying it will not agree to actions that threaten its sovereignty. Qatar has set up new trade routes to ensure the basic needs of its 2.7 million people and has spent billions of dollars to support its economy.
Although Qatar hosts one of the largest US military bases in the Middle East, Trump was quick to support Qatar.
But aides later convinced him to take a more neutral stance on the crisis. Qatar has also begun a costly lobbying campaign in Washington.
In a major shift, Trump hosted Tuesday the Emir of Qatar in the Oval Office and praised his country’s efforts to address US concerns.
“We are making sure that terrorist financing is stopped in countries with which we have close ties,” Trump said.
“But these countries have stopped financing terrorism, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc. Many countries have funded terrorism and we have stopped it.”
Trump went to Sheikh Tamim, saying: “I am now a great supporter and we are grateful for that.”
Trump also noted that Qatar “buys a lot of equipment from us, a lot of purchases in the United States and a lot of warplanes and missiles.”