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10 Jun, 2017 13:41

‘Strange, Trump slams Qatar for ‘supporting terrorism,’ yet gives Saudis a blank check’

‘Strange, Trump slams Qatar for ‘supporting terrorism,’ yet gives Saudis a blank check’

President Trump seems to have married US policy to this very malignant power coming from Riyadh, Jim Jatras, former US diplomat, told RT. Sara Flounders, head of International Action Center, also joins the discussion.

Trump has attacked Qatar for "funding terrorism," while taking credit for the recent decision by Arab nations to cut off diplomatic relations with the country.

Qatar has “historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level,” Trump said during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden.

“I decided, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, our great generals and military people, the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding ‒ they have to end that funding ‒ and its extremist ideology.”

'Wahhabism first' trumps 'America first?'

RT:  What has pushed Trump to take such a hard stance against Qatar suddenly?

Jim Jatras: It’s a really good question and somewhat puzzling. Remember, this is the candidate who promised us an ‘America first’ foreign policy, but we seem to be getting a ‘Wahhabism first’ foreign policy that’s so closely tied to the Saudis. The accusation that “Qataris is funding terrorism,” of course they do. They support the terrorists in Syria, the same ones the Saudis support, and for that matter, Turkey. That’s really not the issue here. Evidently, this is part of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The Saudis don’t like the Qataris supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which are a very nasty outfit in my opinion, but they don’t hold a candle to groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, that both Qatar and Saudi Arabia are supporting in Syria. So it’s very strange, in the name of fighting terrorism, President Trump is coming down so hard on Qatar and supporting Saudi Arabia, which by far is the world’s biggest funder of terrorism and its top ideological inspirer.

RT:  Saudi Arabia's been accused of exporting extremist ideology and funding terrorism as well - why hasn't Trump pointed the finger at Riyadh?

JJ: I think that realignment took place in May when he went to Riyadh and gave what Crown Prince Muhammad [bin Nayef] took as a blank check of American support, and that’s why you can’t separate what’s going on with Qatar, to the terrorist attack in Tehran and to US actions to try to stop a link-up of the Syrian and Iraqi armies at their common border in order to preserve, if not an ISIS zone, then certainly a Sunni-jihadist zone on the border between those two countries. For whatever reason, President Trump seems to have completely married US policy to this very malignant power coming from Riyadh.

International cooperation against terrorism as was discussed in Riyadh a few weeks ago is a fiction anyway. You can’t have international cooperation against terrorism with the number-one supporter of terrorism, which is what Saudi Arabia is.

'US & Saudis: funding extremists since 1980s'

Sara Flounders, head of International Action Center.

RT: Qatar's been viewed as an ally of the U.S. But in this diplomatic spat Trump has targeted Doha with some very harsh words. Why?

Sara Flounders: First of all, it has nothing to do with ending funding to terrorist forces. US wars are the greatest form of mass terror, and there’s no getting around that. And Saudi Arabia has been the US partner in arming fanatical extremist groups – religious forces – since the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s. So this goes back a long way. This is really about forcing Qatar to cut its relations with Iran and using very heavy tactics, ensuring there is no leeway, no independence, at all in policy.

Saudi Arabia will be the US enforcer totally in the region, and that is because Saudi Arabia, the US primary partner, is in an absolute difficult crisis situation in its wars – in Yemen, in Syria and internally. Also in terms of oil prices, and countries in crisis look to war and look for a way of increasing their domination and control in another way. So [the US] is putting the pressure on Qatar to break with Iran. Now Qatar, together with hosting US bases, and paying tribute by buying billions of dollars of US weapons, they also share a very important gas field with Iran, which is their major source of funds. So they had every reason in the past and every reason going forward, to have cooperative relations with Iran…

Certainly the threats against Iran continue, and the possibility of war with Iran is always something the US considers, plans for, has endless war games far, and builds entire weapons systems for.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.