Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani defended Doha’s record on terrorism in late November, telling a counter-terrorism conference in London that Qatar was “committed to destroying terrorism.”
The U.S. has sent conflicting messages over Qatar. In June, U.S. President Donald Trump backed Saudi Arabia over the blockade and criticized Doha when the blockade was imposed, accusing it of funding terrorism at a “high level.” However, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called in June for Saudi Arabia and its allies to end the blockade.
More confusingly, Al Thani and Tillerson signed an agreement in July pledging cooperation in the fight against “terrorist financing.” In addition, the U.S. has a large military base in Al Udeid , Qatar, from which its Central Command runs operations in the Middle East.
Gates said Tuesday that while the U.S. “greatly value our partnership with them militarily,” Qatar needed to decide on “how it sees its role in this region.”
“Frankly, we in America would like to see this dispute resolved so that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is unified in dealing with Iran and other challenges, but Qatar has to make up its mind,” he said.