UAE Criminalizes Sympathy Towards Qatar, Imposing Up to 15 Years Jail Penalty

Trump's call to Qatari ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, a key USA ally, came as a senior Emirati official told AFP that Gulf Arab states were not seeking regime change in Doha.

"It's not just a difference in tone, it's a difference in substance", said Alterman.

"The nation of Qatar unfortunately has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level", Trump told reporters at the White House.

The announcement follows a major diplomatic rift between Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, all members of the powerful Gulf Cooperation Council over allegations that the small, but wealthy peninsula state supports terrorism. "I think the Americans would choose to side with Saudi Arabia over any other country in the region".

JEDDAH: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Qatar must do more, "more quickly" to combat extremism.

He later told France 24 television that any further steps could take the form of "a sort of embargo on Qatar".

Qatar has released an initial report into the alleged hack of its state-run news agency, an incident which helped spark a diplomatic crisis between the energy-rich country and Arab nations. The influential Saudi-led OPEC bloc largely believes that Qatar has been backing militant groups, including the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda through funding, intelligence and logistics support. Russian denials, though, are not exactly credible since Putin first denied sending Russian forces into Crimea but then admitted it, and more recently has denied Russian involvement in hacking activities that revealed information damaging to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign but more recently conceded that "patriotic Russian hackers" may have done so.

In a press conference called Friday, Tillerson called on Saudi Arabia and a group of Arab countries on Friday to immediately "ease their blockade" of Qatar and "put forth a good faith effort to resolve the grievances they have with each other".

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"We don't see a military solution as an option" to the crisis, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said.

Jubeir declined to confirm a list of 10 demands published by Al Jazeera, which included shutting down the widely watched, Doha-based satellite network, but added that Qatar knew what it needed to do to restore normal relations.

The spat has led to one of the worst Gulf crises in decades, with suspended flights and regional ports closed to Qatari ships.

The UAE threatened anyone publishing expressions of sympathy towards Doha with up to 15 years in prison and barring entry to Qataris.

Qatar long has denied funding extremists, and its foreign minister has struck a defiant tone in interviews, even after anxious residents emptied grocery stores in its capital of Doha. Davis said the diplomatic rift has not interrupted or curtailed operations at al-Udeid air base, a launching pad for US military efforts in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, Trump took credit for the decision to cut ties, saying his speech in Saudi Arabia calling on Muslim countries to unite against terrorism and Iran was the reason. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar.

Qatar is home to the largest US military base in the region.

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