Cri­sis at im­passe as Qatar re­fuses to ac­cept de­mands

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON — The Don­ald Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is be­ing drawn fur­ther into the cri­sis en­gulf­ing Qatar and many of its Gulf Arab neigh­bors, a diplo­matic tus­sle that it wanted to avoid.

De­spite nu­mer­ous US ap­peals for Saudi Ara­bia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emi­rates and Egypt to re­solve their is­sues with Qatar on their own, the State Depart­ment said on Thurs­day that Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son would visit the re­gion next week in a bid to me­di­ate a so­lu­tion.

Spokes­woman Heather Nauert said Tiller­son would visit Kuwait, which has been try­ing to bro­ker an agree­ment, on Mon­day after stops in Ukraine and Turkey. She said Tiller­son would meet with Kuwaiti of­fi­cials, but his pres­ence in the re­gion leaves open the pos­si­bil­ity that he may try to shut­tle be­tween the neigh­bor­ing coun­tries to forge a res­o­lu­tion.

The four na­tions cut off diplo­matic ties to Qatar a month ago, ac­cus­ing the tiny na­tion of fund­ing ter­ror­ism and spread­ing un­rest. Qatar has re­fused to com­ply in whole with a list of de­mands from its neigh­bors.

The United States has been sup­port­ing Kuwait’s me­di­a­tion ef­forts, but Tiller­son’s trip will mark a new level of US in­volve­ment in try­ing to bro­ker a res­o­lu­tion.

Ear­lier on Thurs­day, Nauert warned that the cri­sis may not be quickly re­solved.

“We’ve be­come in­creas­ing- ly con­cerned that dis­pute is at an im­passe at this point,” she said. “We be­lieve that this could po­ten­tially drag on for weeks; it could drag on for months; it could pos­si­bly even in­ten­sify.”

She didn’t spec­ify what type of es­ca­la­tion the US fears.

More sanc­tions

The four Arab states on Fri­day con­firmed Doha’s “in­tran­si­gence and re­jec­tion” to any set­tle­ment, Al Ara­biya news re­ported.

In a joint state­ment, the Arab quar­tet, led by Saudi Ara­bia, said the in­tran­si­gence of Qatar “re­flects their as­so­ci­a­tion with ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions and their con­tin­ued at­tempts to sab­o­tage and un­der­mine se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity in the re­gion”.

The state­ment added that they stress “that Doha has thwarted all ef­forts and diplo­matic ef­forts to re­solve the cri­sis,” UAE’s state news agency WAM re­ported.

The re­sponse was handed to Kuwait, which acts as a me­di­a­tor of the cri­sis.

The four coun­tries also de­plore Qatar’s lack of tact and re­spect for the diplo­matic prin­ci­ples to­ward the Kuwaiti ef­forts, as it leaked the list of de­mands, com­pro­mis­ing the me­di­a­tion ef­forts.

Those coun­tries are ex­pected to an­nounce more sanc­tions and ac­tions against Qatar dur­ing the meet­ing ex­pected in Bahrain.

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