No signs of early end to cri­sis over Qatar

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

driven largely by gas rev­enues, de­nies the charges. Of­fi­cials say the de­mands are so draconian they sus­pect they were never se­ri­ously meant for ne­go­ti­a­tion and were in­stead meant to hob­ble Doha’s sovereignty.

Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Sig­mar Gabriel, on a tour of Gulf coun­tries, said he was cau­tiously op­ti­mistic the feud­ing coun­tries would reach a so­lu­tion once they met for talks. “But it is also pos­si­ble that it will con­tinue to be dif­fi­cult for some days,” he told re­porters in Kuwait, where he met with the Gulf state’s ruler who is me­di­at­ing in the cri­sis.

He said Kuwait’s me­di­a­tion, backed by the United States, had al­ready achieved a lot.

Pro­tracted dis­pute?

Qatar faces fur­ther iso­la­tion and pos­si­ble ex­pul­sion from the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil, a re­gional eco­nomic and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion body founded in 1981, if its response to the de­mands fails to sat­isfy the Arab states meet­ing in Cairo.

The Dubai-based Al-Bayan news­pa­per said in an ed­i­to­rial that all in­di­ca­tions sug­gested Qatar had “be­lit­tled joint Gulf ac­tion and the Arab block”.

“Doha chose to en­ter into a dark tun­nel. ... We are to­day at a new sit­u­a­tion af­ter the Qatari re­jec­tion, and it is a re­jec­tion that will not pass with­out a price, and Qatar alone bears re­spon­si­bil­ity for this re­ac­tion.”

Qatar’s response to the de­mands has not been made public. But Doha has al­ready made clear that, while seek­ing set­tle­ment, it is prepar­ing for a more pro­tracted dis­pute. Doha an­nounced on Tues­day it planned to raise Liq­ue­fied Nat­u­ral Gas pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity by 30 per­cent in the next five years.

Qatar’s rel­a­tively lim­ited trade ties with other Gulf states — largely food and con­struc­tion ex­ports — could also soften the ef­fects of ex­tended re­gional iso­la­tion.

The Arab coun­tries have de­manded Qatar cur­tail its sup­port for the Mus­lim Brother­hood, shut down the Al-Jazeera TV chan­nel, close down a Turk­ish mil­i­tary base and down­grade its ties with Iran.

Qatar’s for­eign min­is­ter called for “di­a­logue” on Wed­nes­day to re­solve the cri­sis, ac­cus­ing Arab states of try­ing to un­der­mine the na­tion’s sovereignty.

But the Al-Riyadh news­pa­per, which re­flects Saudi gov­ern­ment think­ing, said: “We do not un­der­stand the Qatari in­tran­si­gence which is built on the prin­ci­ple of sovereignty that have been re­peated in ev­ery re­ac­tion is­sued by Doha.”

“The Gulf re­quire­ments did not im­pact on the Qatari sovereignty at all, but only asked that Qatar stop in­ter­fer­ence in their in­ter­nal af­fairs.”

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