Rift between Qatar, other Gulf nations grows
THE CRISIS between Qatar and other members of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) continued to deepen as the foreign ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates met in Cairo yesterday.
The meeting took place on the day a deadline expired for Qatar to accept a list of demands or face further sanctions.
Saudi Arabia and its allies on Monday gave Qatar a further two days to accept their ultimatum for restoring relations, after an earlier 10-day deadline expired.
Qatar was given a number of demands, including closing down the Al Jazeera television channel in its capital Doha, cutting back relations with Iran and breaking off ties with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood which many of the GCC countries consider a terrorist organisation.
Doha responded by labelling the list of demands “unrealistic and not actionable”. On Tuesday, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani said the issue had nothing to do with terrorism but was about freedom of speech and autonomy over foreign policy.
Qatar rejected accusations that it was destabilising the region by supporting extremism and terrorism and accused other GCC countries of breaking international law.
Sanctions against the emirate so far have included Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain closing their airspace and borders to Qatar and forcibly repatriating Qataris, even those married to their citizens.
The restrictions have hurt the oil and gas-rich nation, which is dependent on imports to meet the basic needs of its 2.7 million people.
Iran and Turkey have been helping to bridge the gap by flying in food and other goods to meet the shortfall.
The GCC countries seeking to isolate Qatar demanded that it:
• Refuse to naturalise citizens from Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE and expel those currently on its territory, in what the countries describe as an effort to keep Qatar from meddling in their internal affairs.
• Hand over all individuals who are wanted by the four countries for terrorism.
• Stop funding any extremist entities that are designated as terrorist groups by the US.
• Provide detailed information about opposition figures whom Qatar has funded, ostensibly in Saudi Arabia and the other nations.
• Align itself politically, economically and otherwise with the GCC.
• Stop funding other news outlets, in addition to Al Jazeera, including Arabi21 and Middle East Eye.
• Pay an unspecified sum in compensation.