Bannon Backs Isolation of Qatar, Comparing Threat to North Korea

Tillerson Rebuffed on Qatar Crisis

The Saudi Arabia-led isolation of Qatar over its alleged financing of terrorists and relationship with Iran is the most important foreign confrontation in the world, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon said in a speech.

Bannon backs the Saudi effort and said Qatar must be held to account for allegedly funding the Muslim Brotherhood and other “radical Islamic terrorism,” Bannon said in remarks hosted by the Hudson Institute on Monday.

Bannon on Oct. 23.

Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“I think the single most important thing that’s happening in the world is the situation in Qatar,” Bannon said. “What’s happening in Qatar is every bit as important as what’s happening in North Korea.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Saudi Arabia’s leaders rebuffed his request in meetings on Sunday to end the isolation of Qatar by their country, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. The diplomatic row began in June shortly after President Donald Trump visited the Mideast and called for an end to terrorist financing by countries in the region.

Bannon called Trump’s speech a milestone in U.S. policy toward the Mideast.

“I don’t think it was just by happenstance that two weeks after the summit that we saw the blockade by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and Egypt and the king of Saudi Arabia on Qatar,” he said.

Trump said in September he’d be willing to mediate the dispute, after initially backing the Saudi-led effort against Qatar.

McClatchy reported on Monday that the UAE is paying the parent company of Bannon-linked firm Cambridge Analytica $330,000 for a public relations campaign against Qatar on social media.

“That’s a company I have nothing to do with,” Bannon told the moderator of the Hudson Institute event.

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