Quar­tet vows more steps against Qatar

Four na­tions adamant af­ter their de­mands are re­jected; West seeks balm for cri­sis

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - ADAM SCHRECK

DUBAI, United Arab Emi­rates — Four Arab coun­tries iso­lat­ing Qatar vowed Fri­day to take ad­di­tional steps against the en­ergy rich Per­sian Gulf state af­ter it re­fused to ac­cept their de­mands over al­le­ga­tions that it sup­ports ex­trem­ist ide­ol­ogy.

Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Egypt and Bahrain ac­cused Qatar in a joint state­ment car­ried on Gulf state me­dia of thwart­ing all ef­forts aimed at re­solv­ing the rift and said it in­tends to “con­tinue its pol­icy aimed at desta­bi­liz­ing se­cu­rity of the re­gion.”

They vowed to “take all nec­es­sary po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and le­gal mea­sures” against Qatar in a “timely man­ner.” They did not spec­ify what those steps could in­clude, though of­fi­cials have pre­vi­ously sug­gested they could in­ten­sify ef­forts to iso­late Qatar eco­nom­i­cally.

The four coun­tries cut di­plo­matic ties and sev­ered air, land and sea links with World Cup 2022 host Qatar early last month. They later is­sued a 10-day ul­ti­ma­tum to a 13-point list of de­mands that in­cluded cut­ting ties with ter­ror­ist groups, curb­ing re­la­tions with Iran and shut­ting me­dia out­lets, in­clud­ing the Al-Jazeera TV net­work.

Qatar is­sued its re­sponse to the ul­ti­ma­tum in a hand­writ­ten let­ter from 37-yearold Emir Tamim bin Ha­mad Al Thani that was de­liv­ered ear­lier this week to Kuwait, which is me­di­at­ing the cri­sis.

The con­tents of the let­ter have not been dis­closed, but the anti-Qatar bloc de­scribed it as “neg­a­tive” and fail­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion.

Qatar has stren­u­ously de­nied that it sup­ports ex­trem­ist groups. It is re­fus­ing to shut­ter broad­caster Al-Jazeera, one of its best-known brands, and sees the ul­ti­ma­tum as an af­front to its sovereignty.

In a state­ment at­trib­uted to an un­named se­nior for­eign min­istry of­fi­cial re­leased later Fri­day, Qatar called al­le­ga­tions made by the quar­tet against it false and tan­ta­mount to “defama­tion in con­tra­dic­tion with the es­tab­lished foun­da­tions of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.”

It said its po­si­tion on ter­ror­ism “is con­sis­tent and known for its re­jec­tion and con­dem­na­tion of all forms of ter­ror­ism what­ever the causes and mo­tives are.” It went on to say that Qatar “is an ac­tive mem­ber com­mit­ted to in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions in com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism and its fi­nanc­ing at the re­gional and in­ter­na­tional lev­els.”

The of­fi­cial said Qatar is will­ing to co­op­er­ate with me­di­a­tion ef­forts “and re­view all claims that do not con­tra­dict with the sovereignty of the State of Qatar.”

Sev­eral coun­tries, in­clud­ing the United States, have urged the Arab states to re­solve their dif­fer­ences. Wash­ing­ton counts all five coun­tries as im­por­tant Mideast al­lies, and sta­tions some 10,000 troops at a sprawl­ing air base in Qatar that is vi­tal for the cam­paign against the Is­lamic State group.

The U.S. State De­part­ment said Thurs­day that Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son will travel to the re­gion to try to me­di­ate a so­lu­tion to the con­flict. He is ex­pected to visit Kuwait on Mon­day, leav­ing open the pos­si­bil­ity that he may shut­tle among the var­i­ous coun­tries in­volved.

State De­part­ment spokesman Heather Nauert said Wash­ing­ton is grow­ing “in­creas­ingly con­cerned that that dis­pute is at an im­passe” and could drag on for weeks or months.

Ger­many, mean­while, has said its in­tel­li­gence ser­vice will play a role in clear­ing up ac­cu­sa­tions that Qatar sup­ports ter­ror­ist groups. Its for­eign min­is­ter, Sig­mar Gabriel, this week vis­ited Saudi Ara­bia, Qatar and Kuwait.

On Fri­day, Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son landed in Saudi Ara­bia in what his of­fice said was the first in a se­ries of Gulf meet­ings aimed at re­solv­ing the cri­sis. He is ex­pected to visit Qatar and Kuwait dur­ing his trip.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.