Boycotting countries pledge continued anti-Qatar stance

Doha’s response “showed Qatar’s lack of realisation of the enormity of the situation,”Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry

Maintaining the stance. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (L), Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa (2nd-L), Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (2nd-R), and UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan (R) meet in Cairo, on July 5. (AFP)


2017/07/09 Issue: 114 Page: 2


The Arab Weekly
Amr Emam



Cairo- At the end of the July 5 foreign ministers’ meet­ing in Cairo, the stand­off between Qatar and a Saudi-led group of four Arab countries seemed geared to­wards a long-term political and economic showdown with no end in sight.

But the inability of the four Arab countries boycotting Qatar to con­vince other Arab governments to join their efforts, division among them about their next moves and interference by US President Don­ald Trump hindered the declara­tion of additional sanctions against Doha following its rejection of boy­cotting countries’ demands, ana­lysts said.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, whose foreign ministers met in the Egyp­tian capital, expressed disappoint­ment that Doha had rejected their demands.

“We feel sorry for the disregard Qatar’s negative response had shown,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said following the meeting. “This response showed Qatar’s lack of realisation of the enormity of the situation,” he add­ed, reading a statement he drafted jointly with his three counterparts.

It was expected the foreign min­isters would declare new sanctions against Qatar for, as they claimed, sponsoring terrorism, meddling in their affairs, courting Iran and act­ing against the collective security of Arab countries.

That that did not happen, observ­ers said, was an indication of di­vergent views among them on the course of action they should follow.

“I think this is the main reason why the meeting of the four minis­ters took longer than it was sched­uled to,” said analyst Abdel Monem Halawa.

Russia proposed to help bridge the gaps between the parties and international oil and gas players ex­pressed concern over the dispute’s effects on the global market.

The list of demands by the four countries included Doha stopping support for terrorism, shutting down news channel Al Jazeera, evicting Turkish troops deployed in Qatar, downgrading diplomatic ties with Iran and deporting Muslim Brotherhood figures.

Doha had been given ten days to respond to the demands and then two extra days at the request of Kuwaiti mediator Sheikh Sabah al- Ahmad al-Sabah. However, Qatar rejected the demands.

As the foreign ministers met in Cairo, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrah­man al-Thani described their de­mands as an “aggression” and the boycott as an attempt to “hijack” decision-making in Qatar.

“If we are not going to have a proper dialogue that gets us to a sustainable solution that respects our sovereignty, we will be setting a precedent for other countries,” Sheikh Mohammed said during a talk at London think-tank Chatham House. “I think the international community should not allow this to happen.”

The foreign ministers of the boycotting countries called on the international community to shoul­der its responsibilities in the fight against terrorism. They said the in­ternational community should act to end terrorism funding.

“There should be no room for en­tities involved in backing or financ­ing extremism and terrorism,” they said in a statement.

Before the meeting, US President Donald Trump called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and said “all parties should negotiate constructively to resolve the dis­pute.”

Trump, who was aboard Air Force One en route to Poland to attend a G20 meeting, stressed the need for countries to follow through on commitments, made in May at the Riyadh summit, to stop terrorist financing and discredit extremist ideology, the White House said.

While the crisis over Qatar en­tered a second month, the list of countries boycotting Doha has not grown. Governments in North Af­rica are silent, Kuwait and Oman are on the fence and Jordan has not clarified a position. This, experts said, makes it hard for the four countries to take additional meas­ures against Qatar.

“More steps will need more Arab unanimity, which is not present,” said political analyst Amar Ali Has­san. “The four countries need sup­port from other Arabs if they, for ex­ample, will move to freeze Qatar’s membership in the Arab League or in the Gulf Cooperation Council.”

The four countries said they would maintain their stance against Qatar. They expressed hopes that Doha would eventually agree to their demands.

A day before the Cairo meeting, intelligence chiefs of the four boy­cotting countries were in Cairo to discuss the Qatari crisis. Analysts expected intelligence agencies to play a role in presenting evidence of Qatar’s alleged support for ter­rorism.

“This is an intelligence file in the first place,” said international rela­tions expert Hassan Wagih. “The position of the four countries on Qatar is based on intelligence in­formation on Doha’s links to terror­ism.”


Amr Emam is a Cairo-based journalist. He has contributed to the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and the UN news site IRIN.


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