Scram­ble to heal deep rift with Qatar

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

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.

PIC­TURE: AP

Peo­ple buy food sta­ples at a su­per­mar­ket in Doha, Qatar, on Mon­day, af­ter the coun­try’s neigh­bours in the Gulf cut ties.

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