Diplomacy to resolve Qatar crisis redoubled
DOHA: Gulf states cranked up the pressure on Qatar yesterday, as Kuwait’s emir worked to end an Arab row that Qataris say has led to a blockade of their country, an investment powerhouse and supplier of oil to world markets.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) cut postal links to Qatar, and close Saudi ally Bahrain reiterated a demand that Doha distance itself from regional foe Iran.
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and several other countries severed diplomatic and transport ties with Doha on Monday, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants and their arch-foe Iran – charges Qatar says are baseless.
Normally guarded about politics, Qataris expressed outrage.
“It is a blockade! Like that of Berlin. A declaration of war. A political, economic and social aggression,” a Qatari diplomat said.
With food and other supplies disrupted and worries mounting about deepening economic turbulence, banks and firms in Gulf Arab states were seeking to keep business links to Qatar open and avoid a costly fire sale of assets.
Turkey has brought forward a troop deployment to Qatar and pledged to provide food and water supplies to its Arab ally, which hosts a Turkish military base. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said isolating Qatar would not solve any problems.
US President Trump initially took sides with the Saudi-led group before apparently being nudged into a more even-handed approach when US defence officials renewed praise of Doha, mindful of the major US military base hosted by Qatar.
In his second intervention in the dispute in as many days, Trump urged action against terrorism in a call with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, a White House statement said.
It said that Trump, in a later call with Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, called for unity among Gulf Arabs “but never at the expense of eliminating funding for radical extremism or defeating terrorism”.
Officials from Qatar and its Gulf neighbours embarked on a quickening round of shuttle diplomacy.
Qatar called for “dialogue and diplomacy”. The Qatari Ambassador to Washington, Meshal Hamad al-Thani, wrote on Twitter that a key pillar of Doha’s foreign policy was mediation. “Open channels of communication means venues for conflict resolution,” he said.
But Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Gulf states could resolve the dispute among themselves without outside help.
“We have not asked for mediation, we believe this issue can be dealt with among the states of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC),” he said on Saudi state TV.
The foreign minister of Oman met fellow GCC member Kuwait’s emir for talks. The Kuwaiti leader went to the UAE and Qatar on Wednesday for talks on the crisis and is now back in Kuwait. Reuters
From left, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, Saudi King Salman, US First Lady Melania Trump and US President Donald Trump, at the Global Centre for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last month. Trump sided with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab countries against Qatar earlier this week in a deepening diplomatic crisis. Qatar has increasingly adopted an independent and often conciliatory role towards conflicts in the region.