No signs of early end to crisis over Qatar
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.
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.”