Scramble to heal deep rift with Qatar
MIDDLE East countries scrambled yesterday to mediate the deep rift between Qatar and other Arab nations that is threatening to splinter the US-backed regional alliance.
Qatar’s neighbours, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were joined by Egypt in cutting ties with Qatar and denouncing it for supporting terrorism in the region.
The eruption of the long simmering dispute into an open rift shocked the region and has threatened the deeply intertwined regional trade links and air routes.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan phoned the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar about resolving the dispute. Turkey has good relations with the feuding parties.
Kuwait has also signalled it readiness to step in to try to heal the festering rift that threatens to blow apart the region. Kuwait’s leader, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jabr al-Sabah, had spoken with the Saudis and the leader of Qatar, urging restraint.
In response to the Kuwaiti leader’s urging, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar agreed to postpone a speech about the crisis to await the result of the mediation.
No retaliatory measures would be taken against the Gulf countries, he said, expressing hope that differences could be resolved through talks. Flights to Qatar by the four Arab countries have been cancelled, as have land and sea links.
The feud has been simmering for years as Qatar sought to project its regional influence.
People buy food staples at a supermarket in Doha, Qatar, on Monday, after the country’s neighbours in the Gulf cut ties.