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Saudi Arabia demands Qatar shut down Al-Jazeera, cut ties with Iran
Saudi Arabia and several other Arab nations have demanded that Qatar shutter the broadcasting network Al-Jazeera, cut diplomatic ties with Iran and close Turkey's air base in the country, The Associated Press reported Thursday night.
The list of demands was released by Kuwait, which is helping mediate the dispute. The list demanded that Qatar end all military cooperation with Turkey as well as an unspecified sum of money.
According to the document, the country has 10 days to meet the list of demands. The U.S. has been pushing Saudi-led coalition of Arab nations to release their demands.
On Tuesday, the State Department said it was "mystified" that the countries had not been more forthcoming with demands after implementing the blockade.
"The more the time goes by, the more doubt is raised about the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and the UAE," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
"At this point, we are left with one simple question: Were the actions really about their concerns regarding Qatar's alleged support for terrorism, or were they about the long-simmering grievances between and among the GCC countries?" she said, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar and blockaded the country earlier this month. The State Department spoke out against the blockade, saying it hindered U.S. military operations against ISIS in the region.
"I call on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at the time."There are humanitarian consequences to this blockade. We're seeing shortages of food. Families are being forcibly separated, and children pulled out of school. We believe these are unintended consequences."
Saudi Arabia and the other nations cited Qatar's relations with Iran, as well as what they say is Qatar's support for extremist groups such as Hamas, al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Earlier in June, President Trump blasted Qatar during a White House press conference, seemingly agreeing with the Arab nations' accusations.
"The nation of Qatar has unfortunately been a funder of terrorism, and at a very high level," Trump said in June.
[Source: By John Bowden, The Hill, Washington, 22Jun17]
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