DUBAI (Reuters) - Qatar dismissed allegations of support for Islamist militancy on Friday after four Arab states, which cut ties with Qatar this week, blacklisted as terrorists dozens of people with alleged links to Qatar.
The announcement by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain increases pressure on Qatar over allegations that it interferes in the affairs of its neighbors by supporting and financing Islamist groups.
The small Gulf Arab state is a critical global supplier of gas and hosts the biggest U.S. military base in the Middle East.
“The recent joint statement issued by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE regarding a ‘terror finance watch list’ once again reinforces baseless allegations that hold no foundation in fact,” the Qatari government said in a statement.
“Our position on countering terrorism is stronger than many of the signatories of the joint statement - a fact that has been conveniently ignored by the authors.”
Qatar said it led the region in attacking what it called the roots of terrorism, giving young people hope through jobs, educating hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and funding community programs to challenge extremist agendas.
The four Arab countries named in a statement 59 people, including Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi, and 12 entities, among them Qatari-funded charities Qatar Charity and Eid Charity.
Reporting by William Maclean; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Robert Birsel