Qatar signs agreement to fight the terrorism it’s accused of funding

July 11, 2017, 6:00pm

Qatar signed an agreement with the United States to combat terrorism financing Tuesday, almost exactly a month after four of its Gulf State neighbors enacted sanctions over allegations it had been financing terrorist groups.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to Doha to meet with Qatari officials, where they signed the memorandum of understanding, which details steps ”to interrupt, disable terror financing flows and intensify counterterrorism activities globally,” Tillerson said at a joint press conference.

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Tillerson also praised Qatar “for being the first to respond to President Trump’s challenge at the Riyadh Summit to stop the funding of terrorism.”

Both Tillerson and Qatar’s foreign ministry asserted that the agreement had nothing to do with the Saudi-led blockade, one of the Gulf’s worse diplomatic crisis in decades. In June, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE implemented an economic and diplomatic blockade against Qatar, accusing the oil-rich country of sponsoring extremism and aligning itself with Iran.

Qatar denied the claims, calling them “baseless” and “unjustified” and said it had been the “victim of a coordinated attack designed to destabilise our relationships within the region and draw attention away from our role in the fight against terror,” according to a letter to The Financial Times written by the Qatari Government’s director of communications.

“We do not, have not and will not support terrorist groups,” the foreign ministry also stated.

In a statement, the quartet of countries enforcing the embargo described the agreement as “a result of repeated pressures and demands over the past years to Qatar to stop supporting terrorism,”according to joint statement published by the UAE’s state news agency. Qatar has denied the memorandum of understanding with the United States was related to the blockade and says it has $340 billion in reserves to withstand the sanctions.

The enforcing countries also said that the agreement was “not enough” and that they would “closely monitor the seriousness of Qatar in combating all forms of funding, supporting and fostering of terrorism.”

Tillerson will meet with the four Gulf countries spearheading the Qatar blockade in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Wednesday.