Gulf na­tions grant Qatar day’s grace

Doha re­jects charges as base­less

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - REUTERS DUBAI/DOHA

FOUR Arab states that ac­cuse Qatar of sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism have agreed to ex­tend un­til late to­day a dead­line for Doha to com­ply with a list of de­mands, as US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump voiced con­cern to both sides about the dis­pute.

Qatar has called the charges base­less and says the de­mands, in­clud­ing clos­ing Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV and eject­ing Turk­ish troops based there, are so se­vere that they seem in­tended to be re­jected.

Saudi Ara­bia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emi­rates (UAE) have raised the pos­si­bil­ity of fur­ther sanc­tions against Qatar if it does not com­ply with the 13 de­mands pre­sented to Doha through Kuwait, which is act­ing as a me­di­a­tor.

Ac­cord­ing to a joint state­ment on Saudi state news agency SPA, the four coun­tries agreed to a re­quest by Kuwait to ex­tend by 48 hours Sun­day’s dead­line for com­pli­ance.

They have not spec­i­fied what fur­ther sanc­tions they could im­pose on Doha, but com­mer­cial bankers in the re­gion be­lieve that Saudi, Emi­rati and Bahraini banks might re­ceive of­fi­cial guid­ance to pull de­posits and in­ter­bank loans from Qatar.

For­eign min­is­ters from the four coun­tries will meet in Cairo to­mor­row to dis­cuss Qatar, Egypt said, while Arab me­dia re­ported that Qatari for­eign min­is­ter Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Ab­dul­rah­man al-Thani ar­rived in Kuwait yes­ter­day to de­liver Doha’s for­mal re­sponse to the Arab de­mands.

The four states cut diplo­matic and com­mer­cial ties with Qatar on June 5, ac­cus­ing it of sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism, med­dling in their in­ter­nal af­fairs and ad­vanc­ing the agenda of re­gional foe Iran, all of which Qatar de­nies.

Me­di­a­tion ef­forts, in­clud­ing by the US, have been fruit­less.

Trump spoke sep­a­rately to the lead­ers of Saudi Ara­bia, Qatar and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi in the UAE to dis­cuss his “con­cerns about the on­go­ing dis­pute”.

The White House said: “He re­it­er­ated the im­por­tance of stop­ping ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing and dis­cred­it­ing ex­trem­ist ide­ol­ogy.

“The pres­i­dent also un­der­scored that unity in the re­gion is crit­i­cal to ac­com­plish­ing the Riyadh Sum­mit’s goals of de­feat­ing ter­ror­ism and pro­mot­ing re­gional sta­bil­ity.

“Pres­i­dent Trump, nev­er­the­less, be­lieves that the over­rid­ing ob­jec­tive of his ini­tia­tive is the ces­sa­tion of fund­ing for ter­ror­ism,” it said.

Yes­ter­day, Trump tweeted: “Spoke with the King of Saudi Ara­bia about peace in the Mid­dle-East. In­ter­est­ing things are hap­pen­ing!”

A State De­part­ment of­fi­cial said on Sun­day that the US en­cour­ages “all par­ties to ex­er­cise re­straint to al­low for pro­duc­tive diplo­matic dis­cus­sions”.

Qatari of­fi­cials say the de­mands are so strict that the four coun­tries never se­ri­ously in­tended them as a ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion and see them as be­ing aimed at hob­bling Doha’s sovereignty.

Qatar says it is in­ter­ested in ne­go­ti­at­ing a fair and just so­lu­tion to “any le­git­i­mate is­sues” of con­cern to fel­low mem­ber states of the Gulf Co-op­er­a­tion Coun­cil, which groups Saudi Ara­bia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE.

Qatar’s Gulf crit­ics ac­cuse Al Jazeera of be­ing a plat­form for ex­trem­ists and an agent of in­ter­fer­ence in their af­fairs.

The net­work has re­jected the ac­cu­sa­tions and said it will main­tain its ed­i­to­rial in­de­pen­dence.

Gulf coun­tries have in­sisted the de­mands were non-ne­go­tiable.

The UAE’s min­is­ter of state for for­eign af­fairs, An­war Gar­gash, has played down the chances of an es­ca­la­tion, say­ing “the al­ter­na­tive is not es­ca­la­tion but part­ing ways”, sug­gest­ing Qatar may be forced out of the GCC.

The Western-backed body was formed in 1981 in the wake of Iran’s Is­lamic Rev­o­lu­tion and the out­break of the Iran-Iraq war.

Last week, the Qatari for­eign min­is­ter said the GCC was set up to guard against ex­ter­nal threats.

Qatari For­eign Min­is­ter Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Ab­dul­rah­man al-Thani. PIC­TURE: REUTERS

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.