Arab states rap ‘neg­a­tive’ Qatari re­ply

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

CAIRO/LON­DON — Four Arab states re­frained on Wed­nes­day from slap­ping fur­ther sanc­tions on Qatar but voiced dis­ap­point­ment at its “neg­a­tive” re­sponse to their de­mands and said their boy­cott of the tiny Gulf na­tion would con­tinue.

Qatar ear­lier in the day ac­cused Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Bahrain, and Egypt of “clear ag­gres­sion” and said the ac­cu­sa­tions cited when they sev­ered ties a month ago “were clearly de­signed to cre­ate anti-Qatar sen­ti­ment in the West”.

The four Arab na­tions ac­cuse Qatar of sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism and al­ly­ing with re­gional foe Iran, which Doha de­nies. Their for­eign min­is­ters met in Cairo on Wed­nes­day af­ter a dead­line they gave Qatar to meet 13 de­mands ex­pired.

They had been ex­pected to con­sider fur­ther sanc­tions at the gath­er­ing, but an­nounced no new mea­sures.

“The re­sponse the four states got was over­all neg­a­tive and lacked any con­tent. We find it did not pro­vide a ba­sis for Qatar to re­treat from its poli­cies,” Egyp­tian For­eign Min­is­ter Sameh Shoukry said, read­ing out a joint state­ment af­ter the meet­ing.

“The po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic boy­cott will con­tinue un­til Qatar changes its poli­cies for the bet­ter,” Saudi For­eign Min­is­ter Adel al-Jubeir told a news con­fer­ence.

Qatar’s re­sponse to the de­mands has not been made pub­lic.

Greater iso­la­tion

The UAE’s min­is­ter of state for for­eign af­fairs, An­war Gar­gash, said in a tweet that Qatar faced “greater iso­la­tion, in­cre­men­tal mea­sures and rep­u­ta­tional dam­age” if it did not heed the de­mands.

Shoukry later told an Egyp­tian pri­vately-owned broad­caster that the de­mands were non-ne­go­tiable.

“The mat­ter from the be­gin­ning was not up for ne­go­ti­a­tions, ... there is no mid­dle ground,” he told the On tele­vi­sion chan­nel.

The worst in­ter-Arab rift for many years has aroused deep dis­quiet among West­ern al­lies who re­gard the re­gion’s rul­ing dy­nas­ties as es­sen­tial part­ners in en­ergy and de­fense.

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

Mean­while, Ger­many said its in­tel­li­gence ser­vice will par­tic­i­pate in ef­forts to clear up ac­cu­sa­tions by Arab neigh­bors that Qatar sup­ports ter­ror groups.

Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Sig­mar Gabriel vis­ited Saudi Ara­bia, Qatar and me­di­a­tor Kuwait this week.

He told Deutsch­land­funk ra­dio on Thurs­day there was an agree­ment for Qatar to “open all its books” to Ger­many’s in­tel­li­gence ser­vice “if we have ques­tions about cer­tain peo­ple or struc­tures”.

KHALED ELFIQI / REUTERS

For­eign min­is­ters from four Arab states meet to dis­cuss the diplo­matic cri­sis with Qatar, in Cairo, Egypt, on Wed­nes­day.

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