Trump says Middle East rift with Qatar shows his work is ‘paying off’

WATCH ABOVE: U.S. want to de-escalate the Qatar situation: White House

U.S. President Donald Trump says his trip to the Middle East is “already paying off,” as regional leaders followed through on their promise to take a hard line on funding militant groups.

“So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off,” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. “They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”

The president’s comments inserted Washington directly into the crisis that has pitted Qatar against Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Those countries announced Monday they were cutting diplomatic ties with the tiny country, a move that ricocheted across the region as airlines suspended flights, ports closed to Qatari ships and anxious residents started stockpiling food.

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It’s unclear how Trump’s criticism of Qatar will affect the U.S.’s relations with Qatar, where they have a major army base with about 10,000 American troops.

The tweets raised eyebrows online, especially as Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said the administration would avoid taking sides a day earlier.

WATCH: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and backing Iran.

Click to play video: 'Arab Gulf nations cut ties with Qatar, U.S. urges unity' Arab Gulf nations cut ties with Qatar, U.S. urges unity
Arab Gulf nations cut ties with Qatar, U.S. urges unity – Jun 5, 2017

One expert from Britain blasted the president’s actions as “reckless.”

“The Saudi royal family must be laughing at how easy it was to convince Trump that Qatar, but not Saudi Arabia, has been financing terrorism,” Brian Klass from the London School of Economics tweeted. “This is so absurdly reckless.”

The comments are also a sharp turn from the ones Trump made in May during his time in Saudi Arabia, where he met with Qatar’s ruling emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

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“Our relationship is extremely good,” Trump said at the time.

– With files from Reuters, The Associated Press.

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