- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2017

Qatar’s top diplomat headed to France and the United Kingdom, seeking support from European allies against a Saudi-led campaign to ostracize the small, oil-rich country from its Arab neighbors.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani arrived in London Monday, where he told reporters the regional blockade and subsequent diplomatic and economic sanctions levied by members of the Gulf Cooperation Council was having a devastating humanitarian impact on Doha.

Mr. Al Thani said Qatar was working closely with Kuwaiti officials to end the blockade, which is preventing food and other critical material from entering the country, as well as tamping down tensions region-wide.

“Our top priority in Qatar is to end this unlawful blockade imposed against us,” he said during an interview with Al Jazeera. “Also to address the humanitarian issues caused by those arbitrary measures. Then engage in a dialogue and discuss the baseless accusations darted at Qatar.”

“Qatar is of the opinion that dialogue is the best answer to this crisis. However, such dialogue must be based on clear foundations, which are not yet made available,” Mr. Al Thani added. His comments a day after Iran sent several cargo aircraft to packed with food to Qatar.

So far, Tehran has sent six aircraft into Qatar as part of an ongoing food airlift program for the besieged country. Over 90 tons of food has been flown into the country by Iranian aircraft, with another 350 tons waiting to be shipped by Iranian vessels from the port of Dayyer, The Associated Press reported.

Riyadh and its allies in the region implemented the harsh sanctions earlier this month, in an attempt to curb Qatar’s support for various extremist groups and its extensive ties to Iran.

Qatar is a majority Sunni Arab nation like the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but has long kept up ties to Shiite Iran, upon which Doha’s energy wealth is dependent. It has also preserved relations with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that was ousted by current Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi in a 2013 military coup.

President Trump, who visited Saudi Arabia on his first trip overseas since taking office in January, supported the actions against Qatar. He publicly reiterated his support for the measures.

“We are stopping the funding of terrorism [in Qatar],” Mr. Trump said during a Cabinet meeting at the White House. “They are going to stop the funding of terrorism. And it’s not an easy fight, but that’s a fight we’re going to win.”

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