Saudi Arabia and allies make Qatar grievances official
Saudi Arabia and its allies have given Doha ten days to comply with the demands.
Long-term showdown. People walk past the Qatar Airways office in Manama. (Reuters)
2017/06/25 Issue: 112 Page: 5
The Arab Weekly
London- Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates made their grievances with fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member Qatar official.
Among the main demands in the document is for Doha to sever ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, close the Al Jazeera media network, downgrade its ties with Iran and shut the Turkish military base in Qatar, a leaked copy of the list indicated.
Kuwait, which has been mediating the crisis, has given Qatari officials a list of demands from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, with a 10-day grace period for implementation.
The demands are likely to irritate the leadership in Doha because most of them relate to Qatar’s regional policies, both undeclared and public.
The demands call for Doha to cease funding terrorism, cut ties with extremist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State (ISIS), al-Qaeda, Fatah al-Sham and Hezbollah, and declare all such groups terrorist entities.
Qatar must reduce diplomatic relations with Iran and limit commercial relations to what is permitted under international sanctions. It must also deport any member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
The list also calls for the closure of the Al Jazeera network and its affiliates. Doha has previously considered such demands a non-starter. Moreover, media outlets funded directly or indirectly by Doha, such as the London-based Al Araby Al Jadeed and the Middle East Eye, should also be shut down, the demands state.
Qatari officials did not immediately respond to the list of demands but Turkey was quick to reject the call to move its military base out of Qatar. Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik said in an interview on Turkish television that his country has no plans to review its 2014 agreement with Doha.
UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash accused Doha of leaking the demands and advised the Qatari leadership to take its neighbours’ concerns seriously.
“Qatar leaking demands [and] concerns of its neighbours and Egypt [is] either attempt to undermine serious mediation or yet another sign of callous policy,” Gargash wrote on his official Twitter account.
He said the leak to the media would prolong the crisis and undermine diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict.
“It would be wiser that (Qatar) deal seriously with the demands and concerns of the neighbours or a divorce will take place,” he added.
Saudi Arabia and its allies have given Doha ten days to comply with the demands. However, if Doha’s rhetoric before receiving the demands is an indicator, positions seem to be shifting further from a negotiated resolution.
Qatar’s attorney general tried earlier to pin the blame for the statements attributed to the emir of Qatar and which triggered the crisis on the hacking of its news agency by countries that have cut off diplomatic relations with Doha.
“Qatar has evidence that certain iPhones originating from countries laying siege to Qatar were used in the hack,” Qatari Attorney General Ali Bin Fetais al-Marri said. Qatari official comments came after Doha initially blamed Americans for the alleged hack, after which they blamed Russian hackers.
The United Arab Emirates broadcast statements highlighting serious allegations of Qatari destabilisation activities within Emirati borders. Abu Dhabi TV aired an interview with Qatari intelligence officer Second Lieutenant Hamad Ali Mohammad Ali al-Hammadi, who said he was tasked with creating fake social media accounts to attack the UAE, Gulf News reported.
Hammadi, who is serving a 10- year prison sentence for espionage, said he received his directives from Qatari Intelligence’s Digital Department.
The crisis erupted after statements attributed to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani criticising US foreign policy and praising Iran were carried by the official Qatari News Agency. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Doha on June 5, saying that Qatar continued to interfere in their countries’ internal affairs and supports radical groups such as Hamas, the Taliban and the Muslim Brotherhood.