Diplo­macy to re­solve Qatar cri­sis re­dou­bled

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

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

PIC­TURE: AP

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.

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