Bahrain calls for freeze on Qatar’s GCC mem­ber­ship

Kuwait Times - - Front Page -

DUBAI: Bahrain called yes­ter­day for Qatar’s mem­ber­ship of the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil to be sus­pended un­til it ac­cepts the de­mands of its neigh­bors and said Manama would not at­tend GCC meet­ings along­side Doha. “The cor­rect step to pre­serve the GCC would be to freeze Qatar’s mem­ber­ship un­til it sees rea­son and ac­cepts the de­mands of our coun­tries. If not, we will be fine with it leav­ing the GCC,” For­eign Min­is­ter Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khal­ifa said on Twit­ter.

Bahrain, Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates and Egypt on June 5 sev­ered ties with Qatar over ac­cu­sa­tions of sup­port­ing ex­trem­ism and be­ing too close to ri­val Iran, charges Doha has de­nied. Founded in 1981,

the GCC is a po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic union that in­cludes Saudi Ara­bia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emi­rates and Qatar, as well as Oman and Kuwait.

Bahrain’s King Sheikh Ha­mad bin Issa AlKhal­ifa an­nounced later yes­ter­day that his coun­try would not at­tend any fu­ture GCC meet­ing if Qatar was to take part. “Qatar has proved to­day that it does not re­spect char­ters, treaties and bonds upon which the GCC was founded,” the king said dur­ing a cabi­net meet­ing, cited by BNA news agency. He also ac­cused Qatar of un­der­min­ing the se­cu­rity of other GCC mem­ber states. “So long as Qatar con­tin­ues on this path, Bahrain will not at­tend any Gulf sum­mit or meet­ing in the pres­ence of Qatar un­less it rec­ti­fies its pol­icy and ac­cepts the de­mands” of the Saudiled bloc, the king said.

GCC mem­bers are sched­uled to meet be­fore the end of the year, but the Gulf cri­sis could see the bloc’s an­nual meet­ing post­poned or can­celled. Ex­perts have warned that the nearly five-month-long diplo­matic cri­sis could lead to the GCC’s demise. Saudi Ara­bia and its al­lies in June is­sued Qatar with a list of de­mands, in­clud­ing shut­ting down Do­hab­ased broad­caster Al-Jazeera, curb­ing re­la­tions with Iran and clos­ing a Turk­ish mil­i­tary base in the emi­rate. After sev­er­ing ties with Doha, Riyadh and its al­lies closed land and mar­itime borders, sus­pended air links and ex­pelled Qatari cit­i­zens.

In an in­ter­view aired on Sun­day, Qatar’s emir ac­cused Saudi Ara­bia and its Arab al­lies of seek­ing to top­ple his gov­ern­ment. “They want a regime change. It’s... so ob­vi­ous,” Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad AlThani told CBS’s 60 Min­utes. “His­tory as well tells us, teaches us. They tried to do that be­fore, in 1996 after my fa­ther be­came the emir. So, and they made it also so ob­vi­ous in the last cou­ple of weeks,” he said. “They don’t like our in­de­pen­dence, the way how we are think­ing, our vi­sion for the re­gion. We want free­dom of speech for the peo­ple of the re­gion. And they’re not happy with that. And so they think that this is a threat to them.”

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