Rift be­tween Qatar, other Gulf na­tions grows

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

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.

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