Trump intervenes in Gulf rift, pointing at Qatar over militant funding

U.S. President Donald Trump, wading into the worst split between powerful Arab states in decades, said on Tuesday his trip to the Middle East was “already paying off” with leaders there taking a hard new line in accusing Qatar of funding of militant groups.

His blunt remarks cast the anti-Islamist speech he gave at a Riyadh summit in May as the inspiration for a decision by leading Arab powers to sever ties and transport links to Qatar in protest at what they say is its support for terrorism.

In fact, U.S. officials were blindsided by Saudi Arabia’s decision to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar in a coordinated move with Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, current and former officials in Washington told Reuters.

“So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!” Trump on Twitter.

The comments — Trump’s first about the rift between Qatar and major Arab nations over its alleged support of Iran and Islamist groups — emerged at a delicate moment in the crisis as the leader of Kuwait was to meet in Saudi Arabia to try to mediate the dispute.

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