Jordan downgrades diplomatic relations with Qatar, revokes license of Al Jazeera

USA officials were blindsided by Saudi Arabia's decision to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar in a coordinated move with Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), current and former officials in Washington told Reuters.

The issue has raised concerns of about global access to Qatar's LNG, most notably after some regional ports in the Persian Gulf said they would turn away vessels with Qatari flags.

It was unclear how Trump's broadside against Qatar and any resulting diplomatic fallout might affect the US military presence in Qatar, where there are roughly 10,000 American troops and a major USA base.

President Donald Trump is backing Saudi Arabia and other Mideast nations in taking what he says is a "hardline" on Qatar, and said perhaps the rift will be "the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism".

A Pentagon spokesman said the crisis has had "no impact on our operations in Qatar or with regards to airspace permission around it".

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Qatar's neighbors have long accused the country of tolerating or even encouraging support for extremist groups, including al-Qaida's branch in Syria, formerly called the Nusra Front.

Qatar maintains that the crisis is being fueled by "absolute fabrications" and is a "violation of its sovereignty". But Trump is complicating efforts to resolve the crisis and undercutting Tillerson, Croft said.

Trump spoke by telephone with Saudi Arabia's ruler King Salman later Tuesday in an exchange of notably different tone from the USA president's earlier remarks on Twitter. "When you're out there in a different time zone, it's very hard if the messages from Washington aren't consistent".

"The thrust of our policy needs to be uniform to allow our diplomats to do their jobs. It's a tough environment in which to be practicing the art of foreign relations".

On Monday, risk consultancy the Eurasia Group said, "The recent measures by the anti-Qatar alliance signal commitment to forcing a complete change in Qatari policy or creating an environment for leadership change in Doha".

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The Gulf countries ordered their citizens out of Qatar and gave Qataris overseas 14 days to return home to their peninsular nation, whose only land border is with Saudi Arabia.

But Trump also specifically praised Qatar during the speech.

Still, the official says the U.S.is working to address the conflict and ensure the USA and its Arab partners remain united in their efforts to right extremism and terrorism.

He also met one-on-one with the emir of Qatar the same day and promised to sell the country "beautiful" weapons. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamTrump's diplomacy-by-Twitter sets off firestorm Trump, GOP plot path for agenda Fractured Republicans get options on healthcare MORE (R-S.C.) said of the Saudi decision.

President Donald Trump again undercut officials in his own administration on Tuesday by blasting out a series of tweets that cheered Arab states isolating Qatar - and possibly encouraged them to keep up their pressure in the process.

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Separately, the upper chamber's foreign affairs committee deputy chairman Vladimir Dzhabarov said the accusations were "an attempt to push the U.S. against Russian Federation as key players in the Middle East". "We need to see a change in behavior immediately".

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