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US Sources: Qatar Avoided Signing Deal to Counter Terror Financing but Conceded after the Crisis | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani at the State Department in Washington. (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

Washington– Forty days following the decision by the anti-terrorism quartet to boycott Qatar, Doha has aborted all initiatives and mediations to end the crisis. Although it has finally signed an agreement to counter terrorism with the United States, statements issued by Qatari officials contradict the deal’s spirit.

Senior US sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Qatar has conceded to US demands to sign the memorandum of accord, in the wake of the escalation of the crisis with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.

The agreement, which was signed by the two countries’ foreign ministers last week, was proposed to Doha long ago, but the Gulf state was turning a blind eye to it, according to the sources.

The sources noted that the agreement was presented to Doha a year ago, and two weeks or more before the crisis began with the four countries, “but officials in Qatar treated it lightly and did not take the outputs of the Islamic-American summit in Riyadh seriously.”

“The authorities in Doha considered that the signing of this deal may be a satisfactory solution after the outbreak of the crisis with the neighboring countries,” the sources added, noting that Washington’s position on this agreement is to stop all means of terrorism financing, to support the Kuwaiti mediation, and to see change in Doha’s behavior.

The sources pointed out that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has sought, during his recent trips to the Gulf, to end the crisis between Qatar and its four sisterly countries, stressing that the US official was in constant contact with President Donald Trump to achieve this purpose.

The US position on the Gulf crisis has seen a major development, when Trump has hinted at the possibility of seeking alternatives to the US military presence at Al Udeid airbase in Qatar.

“If we ever had to leave, we would have 10 countries willing to build us another one, believe me, and they will pay for it,” the US president told CBN conservative channel.

Tillerson and his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, signed the memorandum to counter terrorism financing in Doha on Tuesday.

“The agreement which we both have signed on behalf of our governments represents weeks of intensive discussions between experts and reinvigorates the spirit of the Riyadh summit,” the US state secretary said at a joint news conference with Sheikh Mohammed.