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Did Trump's Anti-Terrorism Speech Influence Cutting Ties with Qatar?

06-06-2017
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JERUSALEM, Israel – Following Monday's announcement by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt – later joined by Libya – to cut ties with Qatar over its support of terrorism, some may be wondering if President Trump's anti-terror speech last month in Riyadh factors in to the decision.

On the first stop of his official state tour, President Trump delivered a speech urging Arab leaders from some 50 Muslim-majority countries to "drive out" Islamic terrorists in their midst.

"A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists," Trump said. "Drive them out! Drive them out of your places of worship, drive them out of your communities, drive them out of your holy land and drive them out of this earth."

While reasons for Monday's decision varied from accusations of supporting ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda and Hamas to destabilizing the region – cutting off all land, sea and air traffic to the wealthy island nation may have some significant economic repercussions.

The announcement had an almost immediate effect on air travel, with several commercial airlines suspending flights to Qatar "indefinitely," effective Tuesday. Qatari visitors were given two weeks to leave Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt and Qatari troops were told to leave the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis in Libya.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in Sydney he didn't think the decision would affect the fight against terrorism one way or another.

"I do not expect that this will have any significant impact, if any impact at all, on the unified fight against terrorism in the region or globally," the Israeli daily, Israel Hayom, quoted the secretary.

Despite Tillerson's conclusions, the economic impact of the move and its effect on the fight against Islamic terror groups remains to be seen.

According to a 2015 post by Business Insider, an investigation of Qatar's bid to host 2020 Olympics exposed "multiple accusations of bribery," ending in the notion that Qatar's enormous wealth was the deciding factor in winning the bid.

"In just 50 years, the tiny peninsula has gone from a poor fishing country to an oil giant with the highest per-capita gross domestic product in the world at $98,800. Many suggest that number may vastly understate the actual wealth of Qatar's 280,000 citizens," the article stated.

In a condolence message to Britain over the weekend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the most recent terror attack there, which left seven dead and 48 wounded, pledging Israel's commitment to fight the scourge of terrorism "that knows no bounds."

Speaking at the Economic Community of West African States in Liberia, Netanyahu said, "When I landed here after a long flight from Israel, I found that a somber cloud hangs over this glorious day."

"This is the cloud of terrorism that has claimed the lives of so many innocent Africans, most recently in Niger and Mali. And in recent hours, another terrible attack was launched on innocent people in the heart of London. We condemn it. We send our condolences to the British people, and we pledge our commitment to fight this scourge – this scourge that knows no bounds.

"These terrorists worship death, they murder indiscriminately, but they will not frighten us, they will not terrorize us," Netanyahu said. "They will only harden our resolve to defeat them. And together, here in Africa, and the Middle East and Europe – everywhere – together we will defeat them faster. But our goal here is not merely to join forces to fight the bad, but to work together to advance the good."

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