Choose Qatar or us, Arab bloc warns Western allies
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