Qatar vs Saudi Arabia: Story of Middle East tensions, information warfare

US President Donald Trump on Thursday offered Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to mediate the standoff between Qatar and the Saudi-led coalition that has severed ties with the tiny country over support for extremist groups.

The West African nations of Senegal and Mauritania have joined have severed their diplomatic relations with Qatar in expression of solidarity with the four Gulf countries that cut ties.

Qatar felt the effect of the move immediately as regional banks slowed trade, the stock market tumbled (7.3% on the day of the move) and the currency lost ground against the dollar.

S&P cut its long-term rating of Qatar by one notch to AA- from AA and put the rating on CreditWatch with negative implications, meaning there was a significant chance of a further downgrade.

Trump initially took sides in tweets with the Saudi-led group, before apparently being nudged into a more even-handed approach when United States defense officials renewed praise of Qatar where their base is located.

Regional tensions, already high following the diplomatic dispute, ratcheted up further after militants attacked targets in Tehran on Wednesday, killing at least 12 people.

Sudan's Vice President, Hassabo Mohammed Abdel Rahman, expressed his confidence in the ability of the conflict parties to overcome the crisis to serve the interests of Arab and Islamic countries and restore the Gulf region's stability considering its vital and strategic location. Riyadh denied any involvement.

- Turkey's parliament is expected to fast-track a draft bill allowing its troops to be deployed to a Turkish military base in Qatar, officials from the governing AK Party and the nationalist opposition said.

At a news conference earlier, he called the actions by the Gulf states "a clear breach of global law".

Numerous others added to the list are figures associated with the Muslim Brotherhood who have made Qatar a base, including Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi.

- Gaza's ruling Hamas said on Tuesday it is shocked by Saudi Arabia's call on Qatar to stop supporting the group.

Tillerson said Qatar has a history of supporting groups across a wide political spectrum, including those that engage in violence, and that the emir of Qatar had made progress in halting financial support for terrorism but that he must do more. Saudi Arabia has completely shut Qatar's only land border in a country that imports 90 percent of its food, much of it through its border with the Saudis.

The Qatari government said the joint statement "regarding a "terror finance watch list" once again reinforces baseless allegations that hold no foundation in fact". Kuwait's emir flew to the UAE on Wednesday to discuss the crisis, while Qatari ally Turkey voiced willingness to play a role.

Qatar remains one of the wealthiest countries per capita in the world, with an estimated US$335 billion of assets in its sovereign wealth fund, and its liquefied natural gas exports rake in a trade surplus of US$2.7 billion every month. By getting very close to Iran and directly defying Saudi Arabia, Qatar will damage its relation with U.S. especially under the Trump administration.

A top Emirati diplomat has told The Associated Press that the United Arab Emirates was not behind the alleged hack that targeted the state-run Qatar News Agency.

"Qatar became the patron of lost causes throughout the Middle East: extremist insurgents in Libya and the Brotherhood in Egypt. Doha didn't simply mail certified checks to each of these organizations".

Qatar also sent its troops to fight against militias, allegedly backed by Iran, in the ongoing civil war in Yemen. Around 90 Turkish soldiers are now at the base, it said.

They announced details of the restrictions after Australian carrier and Emirates partner Qantas Airways said it would not fly Qataris to Dubai because of the bans.

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