President Donald Trump contradicted his own secretary of state on Friday, hours after Rex Tillerson called on Gulf states to ease their blockade on Qatar.
“We call on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar,” Tillerson said. “There are humanitarian consequences to this blockade. We are seeing shortages of food, families are being forcibly separated, and children pulled out of school. We believe these are unintended consequences, especially during this Holy Month of Ramadan, but they can be addressed immediately.”
Trump, on the other hand, took the side of the four gulf states implementing the blockade over Qatar’s alleged funding of terrorist groups. Tillerson was sitting in the front row of the crowd gathered in the White House Rose Garden for Trump’s joint press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, according to NBC News’ Hallie Jackson.
“The nation of Qatar, unfortunately has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level,” he said, before referencing his meeting with the Arab-Islamic American Summit on May 21, in Saudi Arabia. “And in the wake of that conference, nations came together and spoke to me about confronting Qatar over its behavior. So we had a decision to make. Do we take the easy road or do we finally take a hard but necessary action? We have to stop the funding of terrorism.”
He added: “I decided along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, our great generals and military people, the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding. They have to end that funding.”