Choose Qatar or us, Arab bloc warns West­ern al­lies

Marlborough Express - - WORLD -

MID­DLE EAST: Gulf states are con­sid­er­ing forc­ing al­lies to choose be­tween do­ing busi­ness with them or with Qatar if it re­fuses to meet their de­mands, in­clud­ing an end to its al­leged sup­port for ter­ror­ism.

Omar Saif Ghobash, the UAE am­bas­sador to Rus­sia and a lead­ing voice on the cri­sis, said that coun­tries such as Bri­tain could deal with ei­ther the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil or the tiny penin­su­lar state, but not both.

‘‘You’d be forced to choose be­tween want­ing to do busi­ness with an ex­trem­ist agenda or want­ing to do busi­ness with peo­ple who are in­ter­ested in build­ing an ac­cept­able Mid­dle East,’’ he told The Times dur­ing an in­ter­view in Lon­don.

The im­pli­ca­tions could be grave: Qatar con­trols as­sets worth £40 bil­lion in the UK, much of it in Lon­don property, in­clud­ing the Shard and large parts of Ca­nary Wharf.

‘‘We know that,’’ Ghobash said. ’’But do you want Qatari money with blood on it?’’

He claimed that money gen­er­ated by Qatari as­sets in Brit- ain went di­rectly to fund ex­trem­ist groups in the Mid­dle East, in­clud­ing those which have threat­ened the West.

‘‘In­vest­ments that Qatar is mak­ing pro­duce re­turns in your coun­try that goes to groups in Libya, in Iraq, in Syria,’’ he said.

Forc­ing trad­ing part­ners to make such a choice is one of a num­ber of ad­di­tional sanc­tions un­der con­sid­er­a­tion if Qatar re­fuses to agree to a list of 13 de­mands drawn up by Saudi Ara­bia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain. They have al­ready im­posed a diplo­matic and eco­nomic em­bargo on Qatar.

They have given Qatar un­til July 3 to com­ply with the de­mands, which in­clude cut­ting ties to ex­trem­ist groups, clos­ing the state-funded broad­caster Al Jazeera, and aban­don­ing the na­tion’s in­de­pen­dent for­eign pol­icy, in­clud­ing its con­tro­ver­sial re­la­tions with Iran.

Qatar has re­jected the de­mands, say­ing they have ‘‘ noth­ing to do with com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism - it is about lim­it­ing Qatar’s sovereignty and outsourcing our for­eign pol­icy’’. - The Times

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