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Arab States Add Groups, People to Terror Lists in Qatar Row

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Four Arab countries have added to their "terrorist" list 18 more groups and individuals who they say are linked to Qatar, Saudi state news agency SPA reported Tuesday, further escalating a regional row with Doha.

The lists now include three Yemeni charities, three Libyan media outlets, two armed groups and a religious foundation, some of which are already subject to U.S. sanctions.

"The terrorist activities of the aforementioned entities and individuals have direct and indirect ties with the Qatari authorities," a statement issued by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain said.

The four states cut ties with Qatar a major global gas supplier and host to the biggest U.S. military base in the Middle East on June 5, accusing it of financing militant groups in Syria, and allying with Iran, their regional foe.

The row erupted following remarks attributed to Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in which he was quoted as praising Gaza's ruling Islamist Hamas movement and calling Iran an "Islamic power" on May 23. Qatar said the emir did not make the remarks and that the agency's website had been hacked.

Qatar has not yet commented on Tuesday's updated list, but last month it denied the allegations and dismissed charges of support for Islamist militancy, calling them "baseless allegations that hold no foundation in fact."

Qatar's foreign minister, in comments to Doha-based channel Al Jazeera late Tuesday, did not directly refer to the new list but criticized the four countries for actions that he said were undermining mediation efforts backed by the United States.

"We see there is a negative behavior aimed at influencing the mediation, either through statements or through [media] leaks, which they launch at critical moments," Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said.

He reiterated the Qatari position that Doha was ready for dialogue on a range of issues of concern but that it would not negotiate over topics to do with internal affairs and that the boycott against it must be lifted.

Mediation efforts led by Kuwait and shuttle diplomacy by Western officials, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have failed to end what has become the worst rift between Gulf Arab states in years.

Tuesday's statement accused Qatari, Kuwaiti and Yemeni nationals of helping to raise funds for al-Qaida. The statement also said that two Libyan individuals and six groups were suspected of being affiliated with "terrorist groups in Libya."

The groups include two television stations, one of which is affiliated with the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television, a militia group based in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi and one of its senior commanders.

"They have received substantial financial support from the Qatari authorities and played an active role in spreading chaos and devastation in Libya," the statement said.

Source: Voice of America

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