Pentagon breaks ranks with Trump on Qatar

Defense officials still call Qatar a strategic U.S. partner, President Trump's harsh denunciation of the small Sunni monarchy this week notwithstanding.
By Rick Docksai | Jun 09, 2017
Defense officials still call Qatar a strategic U.S. partner, President Trump's harsh denunciation of the small Sunni monarchy this week notwithstanding. While Trump openly sides with six Arab states that broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar Monday on the grounds that they believe it is supporting terrorism within their borders, the Pentagon offered some words of good will toward the Qatari government.

"I will only tell you that we have, with regard to our bases there, continued presence in our operations," Department of Defense spokesman Jeff Davis told reporters. He further credited Qatar with showing an "enduring commitment to regional security."

His words run counter to a series of tweets Trump issued Tuesday in which the president praised the six countrieswhich included Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emiratesall of whom had severed their ties with Qatar and ordered Qatar's diplomats to leave their territories. "Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!" Trump typed. Trump even took partial credit for the episode, noting that it had followed his visit to the Middle East and that during this visit he had warned his Arab counterparts that "there can no longer be funding of radical ideology."

Davis isn't the only government spokesperson who is officially staying out of the international dispute. Heather Nauert, a State Department spokesperson likewise told reporters that "our relationship with Qatar is one that is strong." And Dana Shell Smith, U.S. ambassador to Qatar, spoke of the "great partnership" between the United States and Qatar.

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