Quar­tet swaps 13 Qatar de­mands with 6 prin­ci­ples

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Four Arab na­tions that cut ties with Qatar urged the Gulf na­tion Tues­day to com­mit to six prin­ci­ples on com­bat­ting ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism and ne­go­ti­ate a plan with spe­cific mea­sures to im­ple­ment them - a step that could pave the way for an early res­o­lu­tion of the cri­sis. Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain broke di­plo­matic re­la­tions with Qatar in early June largely over their al­le­ga­tions that it sup­ports ter­ror­ist and ex­trem­ist groups - a charge Qatar re­jects. They ini­tially made 13 de­mands, which Qatar also dis­missed.

Saudi Ara­bia’s UN Am­bas­sador Ab­dal­lah AlMoual­limi told a brief­ing for a group of UN cor­re­spon­dents that the four na­tions are now com­mit­ted to the six prin­ci­ples agreed to by their for­eign min­is­ters at a meet­ing in Cairo on July 5, and hope Qatar will sup­port them as well. The prin­ci­ples in­clude com­mit­ments to com­bat ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism, pre­vent fi­nanc­ing and safe havens for such groups, and sus­pend all acts of provo­ca­tion and speeches in­cit­ing ha­tred or vi­o­lence.

Moual­limi said the four-na­tion quar­tet thinks it “should be easy for the Qataris to ac­cept” the six prin­ci­ples. He stressed that im­ple­men­ta­tion and mon­i­tor­ing must be “es­sen­tial com­po­nents”, and “there will be no com­pro­mise when it comes to prin­ci­ples”. But he said both sides can talk about de­tails of “the tac­tics” and “the tools” to im­ple­ment them - “and that’s where we can have dis­cus­sion and com­pro­mise.”

The Saudi am­bas­sador ex­plained that the ini­tial 13 points in­cluded some prin­ci­ples and some tools to achieve com­pli­ance. Mixed in the 13 points were what Western na­tions might see as fair de­mands, such as crack­ing down on sup­port for ex­trem­ists and curb­ing ties with Iran, and tougher-to-swal­low calls to shut down the Al-Jazeera tele­vi­sion net­work - one of Qatar’s best-known brands - and kick out troops from NATO mem­ber Tur­key, which has a base in Qatar.

Moual­limi stressed that stop­ping in­cite­ment to vi­o­lence is es­sen­tial, but he said clos­ing Al-Jazeera might not be nec­es­sary. “If the only way to achieve that is by clos­ing down Al-Jazeera, fine,” he said. “If we can achieve that with­out clos­ing down Al-Jazeera, that’s also fine. The im­por­tant thing is the ob­jec­tive and the prin­ci­ple in­volved.”

UAE Min­is­ter of State for In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Reem Al-Hashimy said all the coun­tries in­volved have strong re­la­tions with the United States “and we be­lieve that the Amer­i­cans have a very con­struc­tive and a very im­por­tant role to play in hope­fully cre­at­ing a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion to this cur­rent cri­sis”. US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has sided strongly with Saudi Ara­bia and the UAE in the dis­pute, pub­licly back­ing their con­tention that Qatar is a sup­porter of Is­lamic mil­i­tant groups and a desta­bi­liz­ing force in the Mid­dle East.

Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son re­cently con­cluded sev­eral days of shut­tle diplo­macy and sealed a deal to in­ten­sify Qatar’s coun­tert­er­ror­ism ef­forts. The mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing signed by the US and Qatar lays out steps Qatar can take to bol­ster its fight against ter­ror­ism and ad­dress short­falls in polic­ing ter­ror­ism fund­ing. Hashimy called the MOU “an ex­cel­lent step”. “We’d like to see more of that,” she said. “We’d like to see stronger mea­sures taken and stronger com­mit­ment made to ad­dress that.” Hashimy said “at this stage the ball is in Qatar’s court”. “We’re look­ing for a se­ri­ous change in be­hav­ior, se­ri­ous mea­sures,” she said. “No more talk.”

Qatar has fur­ther es­ca­lated the sit­u­a­tion by en­cour­ag­ing Tur­key’s mil­i­tary pres­ence, Hashimy said. “We do not want to see a mil­i­tary es­ca­la­tion of any kind,” she said. “We hope to be able to re­solve this in­ter­nally and among our­selves with the as­sis­tance of strong me­di­a­tion, whether it’s from the US or the Kuwaitis.”

Moual­limi stressed that Qatar’s fu­ture lies with its neigh­bors not with “far­away places”, a clear ref­er­ence to Tur­key and Iran which are sup­port­ing Doha. “Our Turk­ish broth­ers need to rec­og­nize that the era of covert and to some ex­tent un­wanted in­ter­ven­tion in the Arab world has long gone,” he said. “If Tur­key wants to play a con­struc­tive role they are wel­come to do so, but try­ing to find the role through mil­i­tary bases or mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion would not be pro­duc­tive, and would not fare well for Tur­key’s rep­u­ta­tion in the Arab world.”

Diplo­mats from the four coun­tries who at­tended the brief­ing said there have been dis­cus­sions about pos­si­ble next steps. UAE Am­bas­sador Lana Nus­seibeh said that “if Qatar is un­will­ing to ac­cept core prin­ci­ples around what de­fines ter­ror­ism or ex­trem­ism in our re­gion, it will be very dif­fi­cult” for it to re­main in the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil with Saudi Ara­bia, the UAE and Bahrain. “So it may be a part­ing of ways for a lit­tle while in or­der to work things out,” she said. Moual­limi said the quar­tet briefed the 10 elected Se­cu­rity Coun­cil mem­bers Tues­day and hopes to meet the per­ma­nent mem­bers as well. There are no plans to take the dis­pute to the UN’s most pow­er­ful body, he said, but “if we de­velop the con­vic­tion that that is a nec­es­sary move for­ward, then we will do so.” — Agen­cies

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