- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2017

An organization of American Jews and Christians on Monday announced a campaign to lobby the Trump administration to strongly back a pressure campaign organized by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies against Qatar over its suspected support for Iran and terror groups in the region.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and a number of gulf nations on June 5 abruptly cut diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar, home to a major U.S. military base in the region, citing a range of complaints from its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran to its funding of the Arab-language news agency Al-Jazeera. The countries called for their citizens to leave the country, shut down transportation links and ordered Qatari citizens, including diplomats, to return to Qatar.

The Trump administration has offered to mediate the feud between its Arab allies, although President Trump himself has praised the tough stance against Doha as the fruit of his own diplomacy to rally the Muslim world against Iran and radical Islamic terror movements.

The lobbying campaign, organized by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, cited Qatar’s support for radical Islamic terrorist groups as the chief reason for international pressure.

Qatar’s actions have been deeply detrimental to the cause of Middle East peace,” wrote Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the Fellowship’s president and founder, in an open letter to Mr. Trump. “I strongly believe that progress toward peace in the Middle East requires the United States to hold regional governments, including the state of Qatar, to account for such behavior.”

Mr. Eckstein acknowledged the United States’ alliance with Qatar but said President Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel, in which he promised to help combat terrorist groups, gave him hope that the president would take action against Qatar.

“We hope that, as part of your bold new approach to the Middle East, you will use the considerable influence of your office to compel such changes,” Mr. Eckstein wrote.

The campaign includes an ad on the USA Today website and letters to the White House and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

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