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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Qatar regime would fall without US support, says Saudi foreign minister:

Adel Jubeir said if US withdraws base in Middle Eastern state the regime in Doha “would fall in less than a week”

<p>Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir was responding to Mr Trump&rsquo;s request for Arab states to increase the financial and logistical support in areas liberated from ISIS. AFP/FAYEZ NURELDINE</p>

Donald Trump’s request for more financial and ground support from Arab states in the fight against ISIS elicited a swift response from Saudi foreign minister Adel Jubeir, who said that Qatar should be stumping up for the protection the state is given by America.

Mr Jubeir, whose government has been boycotting Qatar since last June, said: “Qatar has to pay for US military presence in Syria and send its military forces there, before the US president cancels US protection of Qatar.” He defined the protection by “the presence of a US military base on its territory”. More than 11,000 US forces personnel are present in Al Udeid airbase in Qatar, and have been operating there since 2001.

Mr Jubeir went as far as saying that if the US withdraws the military base and the protection that its presence provides to Qatar, the regime in Doha “would fall there in less than a week”.

The Saudi foreign minister was responding to Mr Trump’s request earlier on Tuesday for Arab states to increase the financial and logistical support in areas liberated from ISIS.

“As we drive these ISIS killers from Syria, it is essential that the responsible nations of the Middle East step up their own contributions to prevent Iran from profiting off the success of our anti-ISIS effort,” Mr Trump said in his press conference with the French president Emmanuel Macron.

“They have to step up tremendously, not a little bit but tremendously, their financial effort”, the US president said, without naming these countries. The contributions would be part of a strategy to prevent there being an “open season to the Mediterranean” for Iran, Mr Trump said.

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The US is also trying to get Arab states to send forces to Syria, or at the very least participate in the training efforts for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Mr Jubeir said last week that his country was in discussions with the US about the issue.

The talks involve “what kind of force needs to remain in eastern Syria and where that force would come from, and those discussions are ongoing”, he said.

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