Qatar’s leader won’t accept Trump’s White House invitation: report
The leader of Qatar reportedly has no plans to accept President Trump’s invitation for a meeting at the White House until the country moves past an effort by several Persian Gulf neighbors to isolate the nation.
A Qatari official told Reuters on Thursday that the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, would not be accepting Trump’s invitation and “has no plans to leave Qatar while the country is under a blockade.”
One diplomat in Kuwait told the news outlet that “the feeling here is that it is going to take a while to fix. It is more about preventing things from getting worse.”
Trump spoke with the leader of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to push for regional unity, and during a Wednesday phone call with the emir of Qatar he “offered to help the parties resolve their differences, including through a meeting at the White House if necessary,” according to a White House statement.
The major diplomatic rift – caused by the abrupt decision by several Arab countries to cut ties with Qatar after they accused its government of supporting terrorism – has been called baseless by Qatar’s leaders.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt announced Monday that they were closing all land, sea and air borders with Qatar. Several other countries followed suit.
The countries cite Qatar’s support for extremist groups such as Hamas, al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as its relations with Iran.
Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said the country has not been presented with a list of demands by the nations that cut diplomatic and transport ties, but said the dispute must be solved peacefully.
“We have been isolated because we are successful and progressive. We are a platform for peace,” he told reporters in the capital city of Doha.
“We are not ready to surrender, and will never be ready to surrender, the independence of our foreign policy.”
The crisis likely has implications for its population of 2.7 million people and the 8,000 to 10,000 American military personnel at Al Udeid Air Base in Doha.
Qatar is a peninsula that shares its only land border with Saudi Arabia, and relies heavily on its regional neighbors for imported food and supplies.
Sheikh Mohammed insisted, however, that the country is not worried about a food shortage and said Iran was ready to help with securing food supplies.
Qatar and Iran already share a gas field in the Persian Gulf. Experts have expressed concerns that the regional dispute will push Qatar closer to Iran.
“We can live forever like this, we are well prepared,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
Turkey, which has a military base in Qatar, also pledged to provide food and water supplies.
The United States is now attempting to play mediator in the crisis after a unsteady and confusing start.
Trump initially appeared to take credit for the diplomatic break and side with Saudi Arabia in a string of tweets early week.
“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology,” he tweeted Tuesday. “Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!”
“So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off,” Trump added. “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 of the horror of terrorism!”
But Trump a day later quickly changed his stance and indicated that he wants to help mend the spat.