Tillerson Tells Arab States To Lift Qatar Blockade: "It's Hindering The Campaign Against ISIS"

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which includes UAE, Bahrain and Egypt and others, to lift its blockade of Qatar, saying that the cutoff is hindering the fight against the (Qatar-funded) Islamic State. Tillerson also said the blockade had led to food shortages and forced families to uproot themselves and pull their children from school.

“We believe there are unintended consequences, especially during this holy month of Ramadan but they can be addressed immediately,” Tillerson said.

The secretary of state said the Emir of Qatar has made progress in countering terrorism but needs to do more.  He added that after speaking to Gulf nations, he believes the countries involved in the dispute - all U.S. allies - are stronger together, and “the elements of a solution are available.” Even so, he said, Qatar must do more to combat extremism.

The Qatar crisis - the result of Saudi Arabia and its Atab allies severing diplomatic ties as well as land, sea and air travel with Qatar - has thrust the U.S. into a delicate position, because of its alliances with all sides, and because Qatar hosts the nerve center for U.S. air operations in the Middle East, including the fight against Islamic State. Making this more awkward is the widespread knowledge that both Qatar and Saudi Arabia are the biggest sponsors of terrorism in the region.

Separately Qatar's foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said that sanctions imposed upon his country violate international law, calling the moves by Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations an "unjust siege."

speaking in the German town of Wolfenbuettel on Friday alongside German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani also said that his nation's hope was for diplomacy and dialogue.

He asked: "What crime did Qatar commit to deserve such a punishment that violates international law?"

Well, funding and supporting terrorism for once.

Gabriel said it was important to prevent any "further escalation" and that Germany was willing to help with any negotiations, noting that other diplomatic efforts were already being made by the U.S., Kuwait and others, and that he was "optimistic" they would be able to organize talks.