Erdogan says Turkey won’t leave Qatar isolated

DOHA, Qatar (AP) Developments on Friday, June 9, about Qatar (all times Arabia Standard Time).
  • 11:30 p.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed his backing for Qatar in its dispute with other Gulf nations, saying Turkey would never leave the tiny gas-rich country isolated.

Delivering a speech at a Ramadan fast-breaking dinner in Istanbul, Erdogan said Turkey would provide food and medicine to help Qatar ease its isolation despite the other nations “displeasure.”

He called on Saudi Arabia and other countries of the region to end their sanctions, rejecting accusations by these countries that Qatar supports terror groups.

Referring to a statement by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling on the Arab nations to immediately ease their blockade of Qatar, Erdogan said, “I say let’s lift it entirely.”

Turkey’s parliament recently passed legislation permitting the deployment of troops to a Turkish military base in Qatar.

  • 12:15 p.m.

Qatar’s foreign minister said 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 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.

“What crime did Qatar commit to deserve such a punishment that violates international law?” He asked.

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.

  • 10:45 a.m.

Qatar said its foreign minister spoke to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Qatar officials said Tillerson and Sheikh Mohammed “discussed bilateral relations and means of enhancing them as well as the situation and the latest developments” in a crisis between Qatar and Arab countries.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has suggested Tillerson, who as Exxon Mobil’s CEO had business with Qatar, as a possible mediator for the dispute. That comes after Trump, who tweeted about Qatar funding extremists, called Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and offered to host leaders at the White House to resolve the crisis.

Sheikh Mohammed told The Associated Press that Sheikh Tamim “is not going to leave the country while the country is in blockade,” in effect turning down the mediation offer.

  • 9:35 a.m.

Turkish President Erdogan has approved legislation for increased military cooperation with Qatar, including a deal for the deployment of Turkish troops there. The move was a sign of support for the Gulf state in its dispute with its regional neighbors.

The legislation, which also foresees cooperation in military training, was rapidly passed in parliament one day after Erdogan openly sided with Qatar and criticized other Gulf countries’ moves to isolate it.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other Arab nations cut off relations with Qatar after accusing it of supporting terrorism.

Turkey and Qatar have developed close ties over the years and reached an agreement in 2014 to set up a Turkish military base in the tiny Gulf nation.

Government officials said the military would decide on the number of Turkish troops that would be deployed in Qatar and the length of their stay.

  • 8:30 a.m.

Arab countries have put 12 organizations and 59 people they say are associated with energy rich Qatar on a terror sanctions list.

The move is the latest development in the ongoing rift between Qatar and Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

A joint statement from the four countries said they sanctioned the groups and individuals because of “the continuous and ongoing violations of the authorities in Doha of Qatar’s commitments and obligations.”

Six of the organizations were already considered militant groups in Bahrain.

Among the individuals named was Youssef al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born cleric considered a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist group.

Qatar said the terror listing is part of “baseless allegations that hold no foundation in fact.”