Anti-Qatar bloc threat­ens fur­ther steps against Gulf state

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

Four Arab coun­tries iso­lat­ing Qatar vowed Fri­day to take ad­di­tional steps against the en­ergy rich Gulf state af­ter it re­fused to ac­cept their de­mands over al­le­ga­tions that it sup­ports ex­trem­ist ide­ol­ogy.

Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Egypt and Bahrain ac­cused Qatar in a joint state­ment car­ried on Gulf state me­dia of thwart­ing all ef­forts aimed at re­solv­ing the rift and said it in­tends to “con­tinue its pol­icy aimed at desta­bi­liz­ing se­cu­rity of the re­gion.”

They vowed to “take all nec­es­sary po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and le­gal mea­sures” against Qatar in a “timely man­ner.” They did not spec­ify what those steps could in­clude, though of­fi­cials have pre­vi­ously sug­gested they could in­ten­sify ef­forts to iso­late Qatar eco­nom­i­cally. The four coun­tries cut di­plo­matic ties and sev­ered air, land and sea links with World Cup 2022 host Qatar early last month. They later is­sued a 10day ul­ti­ma­tum to a 13-point list of de­mands that in­cluded cut­ting ties with ter­ror­ist groups, curb­ing re­la­tions with Iran and shut­ting me­dia out­lets, in­clud­ing the Al-Jazeera TV net­work.

Qatar is­sued its re­sponse to the ul­ti­ma­tum in a hand-writ­ten let­ter from 37-year-old Emir Tamim bin Ha­mad Al Thani that was de­liv­ered ear­lier this week to Kuwait, which is me­di­at­ing the cri­sis.

The con­tents of the let­ter have not been dis­closed, but the anti-Qatar bloc de­scribed it as “neg­a­tive” and fail­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion.

Qatar has stren­u­ously de­nied that it sup­ports ex­trem­ist groups. It is re­fus­ing to shut­ter Al-Jazeera, one of its best­known brands, and sees the ul­ti­ma­tum as an af­front to its sovereignty.

In a state­ment at­trib­uted to an un­named se­nior for­eign min­istry of­fi­cial re­leased later Fri­day, Qatar called al­le­ga­tions made by the quar­tet against it false and tan­ta­mount to “defama­tion in con­tra­dic­tion with the es­tab­lished foun­da­tions of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.”

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