State Dept tells Anadolu Agency Dana Shell Smith's decision to leave foreign service was made earlier this year

The departure of the U.S. envoy to Qatar amid a diplomatic crisis in the region is part of a "normal rotation" of career diplomats, the State Department said Tuesday.

A spokesman told Anadolu Agency that Dana Shell Smith's decision to leave the foreign service was made earlier this year.

The spokesman discussed the matter on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly

Smith announced Tuesday on Twitter that she was ending her three-year career with the department, which she called the "greatest honor of my life".

Her decision came amid the tumult between Qatar and five Arab states led by Saudi Arabia.

Last week, five Arab countries -- Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen -- cut off ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.

Qatar, for its part, has denied the accusations, calling the move to isolate it “unjustified”. 

'Blockade against Qatar'

Saudi Arabia also closed its land border with the tiny Gulf nation, cutting it off from its sole land crossing. Riyadh was joined by the U.A.E. and Bahrain in blocking Qatari ships and planes from accessing the country's airspace and territorial waters.

In Washington, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir denied that there was a blockade of Qatar, offering to send food and medial supplies "should they need this".

The State Department and the White House have appeared to take different approaches during the crisis.

Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged the Saudi alliance to ease "the blockade against Qatar". Hours later, President Donald Trump assailed Qatar, calling the country a "funder of terrorism at a very high level".

Trump has suggested Saudi Arabia and its allies acted after he instructed them to crack down on terrorist financing.

Smith, the departing U.S. envoy, also appeared to break with the White House, retweeting on June 5 a previous message that the U.S. and Qatar shared a "great partnership, real progress to counter terrorist financing".

"U.S. supports #Qatar’s efforts in combating terrorism financing & appreciates its role in coalition against ISIL," she said in a retweet just minutes later, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or Daesh.

Departure of US envoy to Doha part of 'normal rotation'

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