All sides stand­ing ground as Gulf..

Kuwait Times - - NEWS -

Gulf coun­tries have in­sisted the de­mands were non­nego­tiable. The UAE am­bas­sador to Rus­sia has said Qatar could face fresh sanc­tions if it does not com­ply with the de­mands. Gulf states could ask their trad­ing part­ners to choose be­tween working with them or with Doha, he said in a news­pa­per in­ter­view last week. They have not spec­i­fied what fur­ther sanc­tions they could im­pose on Doha but com­mer­cial bankers in the re­gion be­lieve that Saudi, Emi­rati and Bahraini banks might re­ceive of­fi­cial guid­ance to pull de­posits and in­ter­bank loans from Qatar.

A more se­ri­ous sanc­tion would be to ban in­vestors from hold­ing Qatari as­sets, but au­thor­i­ties have given no sign of do­ing this. Qatar’s stock mar­ket fell sharply yesterday as the Qatari stock in­dex sank as much as 3.1 per­cent in thin trade, bring­ing its losses to 11.9 per­cent since June 5, when Saudi and the other coun­tries cut diplo­matic and trade ties.

UAE min­is­ter of state for foreign affairs An­war Gar­gash played down the chances of an es­ca­la­tion, say­ing “the al­ter­na­tive is not es­ca­la­tion but part­ing ways”, sug­gest­ing Qatar may be forced out of the six-mem­ber Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil (GCC). The Western-backed body was formed in 1981 in the wake of Iran’s Is­lamic Rev­o­lu­tion and the out­break of the Iran-Iraq war, by Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain. Speak­ing in Wash­ing­ton last week, the Qatari foreign min­is­ter said the GCC was set up to guard against ex­ter­nal threats. “When the threat is com­ing from in­side the GCC, there is a sus­pi­cion about the sus­tain­abil­ity of the or­ga­ni­za­tion,” Sheikh Mo­hammed told re­porters.

Qataris ap­peared de­fi­ant yesterday, with news­pa­pers de­cry­ing a “siege” and shar­ing on so­cial me­dia a car­toon of David and Go­liath to il­lus­trate Qatar’s strug­gle with its larger neigh­bors. A Qatari artist whose por­trait of Qatar’s emir has been draped from sky­scrapers and af­fixed to car win­dows across the cap­i­tal signed t-shirts for Qataris at a mu­seum on Satur­day. “As you see the photo is now all over, it’s a sign of loy­alty to the emir and love for the coun­try,” he said.

News­pa­pers in the UAE rounded on Qatar yesterday, with prom­i­nent daily The Na­tional say­ing in an ed­i­to­rial: “Qatar’s wrong-headed be­hav­ior is de­press­ingly pre­dictable.” “A con­clu­sion to the cri­sis... can only ar­rive when Doha mends its ways and seeks to an­swer the Gulf’s con­cerns. We doubt that day will come soon, even though Qatar must be aware that its ac­tions will de­liver pro­found con­se­quences,” it wrote.

Saudi Ara­bia’s per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the United Na­tions, Ab­dul­lah bin Yahiya Al-Moallemi, said on Twit­ter that Qatar had failed to take op­por­tu­ni­ties of­fered by its neigh­bors in the past to stop sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism. “Qatar had in­sisted on shak­ing the se­cu­rity of the king­dom of Saudi Ara­bia and in­ter­fer­ing in the affairs of coun­tries in the re­gion,” Moallemi said.

The cri­sis has hit travel, food im­ports and ratch­eted up ten­sions in the Gulf and sown con­fu­sion among busi­nesses, while push­ing Qatar closer to Iran and Turkey. But it has not hit en­ergy ex­ports from Qatar, the world’s big­gest ex­porter of liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas and home to the re­gion’s big­gest US mil­i­tary base. The rift opened days af­ter US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump met Arab lead­ers in Riyadh and called for unity against re­gional threats such as Iran and hard­line Is­lamist mil­i­tant groups. — Agen­cies

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