In hope to end crisis, US-Qatar ink pact to check terror funding

RSTV Bureau
Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani attends a Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Doha, Qatar. Bahrain says it is cutting diplomatic ties to Qatar amid a deepening rift between Gulf Arab nations

File photo of Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani attending a Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Doha, Qatar

In a attempt to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, the Trump Administration has signed an MoU with Qatar that combats terror financing. The pact was signed almost a month after four Gulf countries isolated Qatar and accused it of funding terrorism.

The US called the signing of the MoU a major step. The deal was signed in the presence of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was in Qatar as part of his Gulf nations tour. Tillerson will now be heading to Saudi Arabia, the strongest of Qatar’s opponents in the region.

“Together, the United States and Qatar will do more to track down funding sources, will do more to collaborate and share information, and will do more to keep the region and our homeland safe,” Tillerson said in Qatar after his talks with 37-year-old Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

The MoU lays out steps Qatar can take to bolster its fight against terrorism and address shortfalls in policing terrorism funding. The US hopes that the deal will pave the way for Qatar’s patch up with the four Gulf countries that cut off relations with them.

“We worked out an arrangement with the Qataris separate from the Qatar feud. And this is something we’re pretty proud of. That is the Qataris and the United States have signed a memo of understanding between the United States and Qatar on counter terrorism financing,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters.

“We know that all of those countries, as we talked about in Riyadh, share the concern about ISIS, the global terror network, and they recognise that we are all stronger when we are working together and coordinating in the fight against ISIS…So we believe that this memo of agreement between the United States and Qatar is a good first start to get that underway,” Nauert added.

Interestingly, Qatar hosts al-Udeid Air Base, the largest US military installation in the Middle East and hub for US-led operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Last month, US President Donald Trump had accused Qatar of “historically” funding terrorism and spreading hate.

“Stop funding (terrorism). Stop teaching hate. Stop the killing,” Trump had said in a news conference.

Trump’s comments had come a week after Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates cut ties with Qatar, accusing their former Gulf Cooperation Council ally of supporting extremist groups.

In a bid to resolve the crisis, the Gulf nations had sent a list of demands for Qatar to follow, which the isolated nation refused.

Qatar has repeatedly denied supporting extremist groups and has rejected the demands, saying that agreeing to them would undermine its sovereignty.

(With inputs from agencies)