PICTURES: Qatar vindicated by “ridiculous” demands from Saudi-led blockade group
The demands of the blockading countries confirm what Qatar has been saying from the beginning – they have nothing to do with combating terrorism, but it is about limiting Qatar’s sovereignty, and outsourcing its foreign policy, a senior government official has said. The Director of the Government Communication Office (GCO) Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed al-Thani told media outlets that Qatar was reviewing these demands.
He pointed to the remarks of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who called upon the blockading nations to produce a list of grievances that was “reasonable and actionable” and to the remarks of the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who asked that the demands be “measured and realistic.”
However, “the list of demands does not satisfy that criteria,” Sheikh Saif stressed. Responding to the demands, Meshal Hamad al-Thani, Qatar’s ambassador to the United States, tweeted that the list was meant to “punish Qatar for its independence”.
Continuing with his diplomatic consultations, HE the Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani held telephone conversations with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Angelino Alfano yesterday. Discussions during the calls dealt with issues of common concern, as well as the latest developments between the GCC countries, QNA said.
Qatar has maintained the list of demands from Saudi Arabia and its allies as unreasonable, unrealistic and an impingement on the country’s sovereignty. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt want Doha to comply with a list of 13 demands in return for an end to a nearly three-week-old diplomatic and trade blockade of Qatar.
Qatar has been given 10 days to meet the demands, which include a call to close down broadcaster Al Jazeera.
The ultimatum also includes calls for Doha to cut ties to groups including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State organisation, Al Qaeda and Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement. Qatar has also been asked to hand over opposition figures wanted by its three neighbours and Egypt and to downgrade diplomatic ties with Iran.
It has also been told to shut a Turkish military base in the state.
Qatar was warned by one of its most hawkish critics in the region that unless it meets the list of demands, Doha faces “divorce” from its Gulf neighbours.
Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s state minister for foreign affairs, said Qatar should yield to the demands.
“It would be wiser that (Qatar) deal seriously with the demands and concerns of the neighbours or a divorce will take place,” he wrote on Twitter.
“If Qatar follows the path of wisdom… we would need a system of guarantees and controls” in order to implement an accord with Doha, he said, calling for “European and American guarantees”. Al Jazeera, one of the largest news organisations in the world, has responded to the demands by saying it “deplores” calls for it to be taken off air.
“We in the network believe that any call for closing down Al Jazeera is nothing but an attempt to silence the freedom of expression in the region and to suppress people’s right to information,” said the broadcaster.
In the other official response Qatar Human Rights Committee said the demands represented “gross violations” of basic rights.
As well as cutting diplomatic ties, Qatar’s neighbours closed their airspace to Qatari carriers and blocked the country’s only land border, vital for its food imports. The US Secretary of State has urged a diplomatic solution, and Washington has been pushing for a clear list of grievances that are “reasonable and actionable”.
The UAE state minister said the dispute could be resolved “through diplomacy if Qatar renounces its support for extremism and terrorism”. Gargash said: “We don’t want European mediation, and I don’t think the Europeans want to be mediators. Their role should be to put pressure on Qatar.”
Turkey committed to resolving GCC crisis through dialogue
Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu said in Tokyo yesterday his country would continue its mediation efforts to resolve the GCC crisis through dialogue. Cavusoglu said in an interview with Japanese television that the siege Qatar is subjected to is a mistake on a humanitarian level.
He noted also that Turkey has strong ties with the GCC. Cavusoglu stressed that Turkey is focused on resolving the GCC crisis through dialogue, rather than enforcing a siege. He added that his country was neutral on the issue, but believe that the allegations directed at Qatar need backing.