President Trump delivered a sharp message to Qatar to halt funding terrorism—an order that appeared to undermine his own secretary of state, the Washington Post reports. Trump told reporters Friday that Mideast leaders had complained to him about Qatar, which he said has “historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.” He called the Saudi-led blockade of the kingdom “hard but necessary” and declared, per the AP, “the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding.” One hour earlier, however, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Arab states to ease up on Qatar, saying the blockade was hurting Qataris, impeding the fight against ISIS, and “impairing US and other international business activities in the region,” per NPR.
At Trump’s request, Tillerson has played mediator in the stand-off, urging Qatar to step up efforts to stop funding terrorism but also pointedly saying that “others” need to battle extremists “within their own borders.” When asked for comment on the apparently conflicting speeches, a State Department rep gave NPR a chart comparing parts of the text that appeared to jibe. A White House official tells the Washington Post, “I think the policy is consistent.” He adds that Trump is not opposed to easing the blockade but he believes that Qatar “deserves it.” It wasn’t clear what effect Trump’s comments would have on relations with Qatar, which the AP notes is home to major US air base used as a base for operations in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. (Trump’s tweets might make things harder for the US military in Qatar.)