Qatar faces being booted out of bloc
GULF CRISIS CONTINUES
Bahrain’s foreign minister yesterday suggested suspending Qatar’s Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) membership until it accepts the demands of its Arab adversaries in the region’s worst crisis in years.
“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,” Sheikh 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 Shi’ite 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, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait. Experts have warned the nearly five-monthlong diplomatic crisis could cause its demise.
Saudi Arabia and its allies in June issued Qatar with a list of demands, including shutting down Doha-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera, curbing relations with Iran and closing a Turkish army base.
“Bahrain will not attend a summit with Qatar, which becomes closer to Iran each day and brings foreign forces [to its soil], dangerous steps for the security of GCC countries,” Sheikh Khalid said.
GCC members are supposed to meet before the end of the year, but the crisis could see the bloc’s annual meeting postponed or cancelled. After severing ties with Doha, Riyadh and its allies closed land and maritime borders, suspended air links and expelled Qatari citizens.
In an interview 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 Al-Thani told CBS’s 60 Minutes. “They tried to do that before in 1996 after my father became the emir. And they made it also so obvious in the last couple of weeks.”
Qatar’s ruler said he was ready for US-hosted direct talks aimed at solving the worst diplomatic crisis in the Gulf in years, but has yet to hear a response to US President Donald Trump’s invitation to the four Arab states boycotting Doha.
Speaking to CBS, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad alThani said he wanted an end to the dispute. “Nothing is going to be above our dignity, our sovereignty. But we want it to end,” he told 60 Minutes.
“If they walk one metre toward me, I’m willing to walk 10 000 miles towards them.” –