US and Qatar sign deal on fighting terrorism

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson praises Qatar’s commitment to help track down and disable sources of terror funding.

Qatar and the United States have signed an agreement to help combat “terrorism financing” during a visit to Doha by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Tillerson made the announcement on Tuesday during a joint news conference in the Qatari capital.

Tillerson is in Doha pushing for dialogue to resolve a dispute between Qatar and its neighbouring Gulf countries.

Sheikh Mohammed said the signing was “not related to the recent crisis and the blockade imposed against Qatar”.

ANALYSIS: Qatar-Gulf crisis – Who are the ‘terrorists’?

“Today, Qatar is the first country to sign a memorandum of agreement with the US, and we call on the countries imposing the siege against Qatar to join us as signatories to this MoU,” he said.

Tillerson praised Qatar for signing the deal, and for committing to the effort “to track down and disable terror financing”. 

“The US has one goal: to drive terrorism off the face of the Earth,” Tillerson said.

“Together the United States and Qatar will do more to track down funding sources, will do more to collaborate and share information, and will do more to keep the region and our homeland safe.”     

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates accuse Doha of funding what they call terrorism – something Qatar denies. 

The four countries cut ties with Qatar on June 5 and imposed a land, air and sea blockade on the country.

Tillerson is on a four-day trip to the region to try to help find a solution to the crisis.

On Wednesday, he will meet the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt in Jeddah.

Tillerson first met Qatar's emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani before his talks with Qatar's foreign minister on Tuesday [AP]
Tillerson first met Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani before his talks with Qatar’s foreign minister on Tuesday [AP]

‘Strategic timing’

He declined to comment in Doha on a timeline for resolving the dispute, saying discussions are ongoing.

News conference: US and Qatar announce deal

“My role here is to support the efforts of the emir of Kuwait and the Kuwaiti mediator to bring what we can to the discussions to help both sides more fully understand the concerns of the relative parties and also point out possible solutions to those,” he told reporters.

Kuwait is trying to mediate in the crisis.

Al Jazeera senior political analyst Marwan Bishara said “there is no better timing than now” to sign the agreement.

“This has been going on for a while. I think it is timely, it is important, it is strategic for them to sign this memorandum of understanding now, because that certainly pulls the rug from under those who still are skeptical of Qatar’s attempt to stop [terror] financing,” he said.     

Shafeeq Gabra, professor of political science at Kuwait University, said Tuesday’s agreement would help ease tensions in the Gulf. 

“It will make the US and Qatar closer,” he told Al Jazeera. “It will allow the Americans to clearly say they can see through what Qatar is doing regarding at least one major accusation from the countries that imposed the blockade – terrorism.

“And that takes a major chunk of the whole story totally out the window.” 

What’s next for Qatar and the GCC? – UpFront

Source: Al Jazeera