The White House said Friday it considers the deepening crisis in the Gulf to be primarily “a family issue,” urging regional leaders to chart a way out while offering US help in enabling talks.
When asked about a list of demands placed on Doha by Saudi Arabia and its allies as the price for lifting an almost three-week “blockade” on Qatar, press secretary Sean Spicer declined to comment directly.
“We believe it’s a family issue,” he said. “If we can help facilitate those discussions then so be it, but this is something they want to and should work out for themselves.”
The demands placed on Qatar include the closure of Al-Jazeera television, a long-standing source of conflict with neighboring countries which accuse the network of fomenting regional strife.
Asked specifically about Al-Jazeera, and America’s attachment to freedom of the press, President Donald Trump’s spokesman replied: “We are going to play a facilitating role in those discussions but that’s a discussion that these countries need to have amongst themselves.”
The Qatar-based broadcaster has denounced the move as an attack on media freedom.
On June 5, Saudi Arabia and the UAE severed all links with Doha for allegedly supporting groups, including some backed by Iran, “that aim to destabilize the region.”
Other allies, including Egypt and Bahrain, followed.
Saudi Arabia regularly accuses Iran, its regional rival, of interference throughout the Middle East.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has held a series of telephone calls with both Riyadh and Doha in recent days to help resolve the crisis.