Qatar rejects as baseless terrorism designations by four Arab states

Many flights in and out of Hamad International have been cancelled as Qatar Airways faces closed airspace in the Gulf region

On Monday, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE severed diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar accusing it of supporting Islamist militants and their arch-foe Iran, charges Qatar says are baseless.

"We call on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar", Tillerson said.

"I decided along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, our great generals and military people the time had come for Qatar to end its funding", Trump said. "Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!" he wrote on the social media site.

But turning up the heat on Qatar so soon after the countries cut off diplomatic ties could imperil the future of the US military's largest outpost in the Middle East - an air base 20 miles south of the capital Doha that hosts an estimated 11,000 military personnel.

Trump had also spoken to Saudi King Salman bin Agdulaziz Al-Saud sharing a similar message.

"The campaign of incitement is based on lies that had reached the level of complete fabrications", the Qatari foreign ministry said.

Qatar long has denied funding extremists, and its foreign minister has struck a defiant tone in interviews, even after anxious residents emptied grocery stores in its capital of Doha.

More than 11,000 U.S. and coalition forces are stationed at the Udeid Air Base in Qatar, from which more than 100 aircraft operate.

Erdogan said the recent crisis in the Gulf region serves only those who were gaining from instability in the Middle East.

Bahrain's foreign minister, keeping up the pressure on Qatar in a deepening Arab row, reiterated on Thursday a demand that Doha distance itself from Iran and stop support for "terrorist organisations".

The move comes after the country banned any direct flights to and from Qatar, and also closed down the offices of Qatar Airways across the UAE.

Anxious residents have responded to the crisis by emptying grocery stores in the Qatari capital Doha, as Saudi Arabia has blocked trucks carrying food from entering the country across its only land border.

"Qatar has a history of supporting groups that have spanned the spectrum of political expression from activism to violence", Tillerson said.

Doha has for years forged its own alliances in the region, often diverging from the politics of the six-state GCC and taking in leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian Hamas and members of the Afghan Taliban. "They will not have a positive impact on the region but a negative one", he told a press conference during a visit in Germany. "There are other countries in the region that grapple with the same issues".

In a statement published by the Saudi news agency, 59 people, including Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi, and 12 entities, among them Qatari-funded charities Qatar Charity and Eid Charity, were named as having links to terrorism.



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