After demands aired, solution to Qatar crisis seems far off

Katrina Barker
June 26, 2017

Qatar, however, said it is preparing an official response to the document containing the demands of several Arab countries that have cut ties with it and imposed a blockade against it earlier this month.

Anwar Gargash, the UAE's state minister for foreign affairs, warned that Qatar should take the demands seriously or face "divorce" from its Gulf neighbors.

According to foreign media, the 13-point list of demands includes the closure of Al Jazeera television, downgrading ties with Iran and extraditing "terrorists".

The four countries also want Qatar to reduce its ties with Iran and close a Turkish military base, setting a deadline on Friday of 10 days.

The demands were included in a 13-point list presented to Doha as an ultimatum by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates which went well beyond the original reason those states cited for snubbing Doha - that it was funding and harboring "terrorists".

Turkey, whose President Tayyip Erdogan has his roots in an Islamist political party, and Qatar have been the main backers of the Muslim Brotherhood movement that challenges Arab rulers.

Saudi Arabia demanded Qatar change its policy, in order to adjust Al Jazeera's broadcasting to the interests of the Gulf States.

Additionally, the four nations also demanded that Qatar shut down Al-Jazeera and its affiliate stations, which has always been accused of publicising and fabricating news that incite sedition and support radical thoughts.

An optimist might hope the other Sunni states have seen the error of their ways and intend to clean up their acts after reaching an agreement with Qatar, but that degree of optimism is hard to come by in the Middle East.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has tried to mediate and earlier this week called on the Arab nations to limit themselves to "reasonable and actionable" demands. "These rules are the diplomatic solution that requires Qatar to change its approach regarding support of extremism and terrorism".

The UAE's foreign minister has suggested they may cut ties completely. The demand to close the base will be hard for Qatar to meet, as it's part of a 2014 diplomatic agreement between both countries.

"We assert our right to practice our journalism professionally without bowing to pressure from any government or authority and we demand that governments respect the freedom of media to allow journalists to continue to do their jobs free of intimidation, threats and fear-mongering", it said in a statement.

The punitive measures against Qatar have drawn condemnation from rights groups, including Amnesty International, which says the diplomatic dispute has been toying with thousands of lives. Iran and Turkey are now providing Qatar's required food supplies.

The UAE is among four countries, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, that have closed their airspace to Qatar, forcing state-owned Qatar Airways to fly longer, more expensive routes.

State-run Qatar News Agency said Qatar's ministry of foreign affairs received the list on Friday.

Saudi Arabia itself has issued this ultimatum at a time when the Gulf, and the Middle East, are unsettled and feeling the influence of Iran in many areas, including Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, although Iran's fingers have made inroads into other nations as well.

Adding insult to injury, Qatar must pay reparations to the four countries and consent to monthly audits of its compliance for the first year, then quarterly for the second year and annually for the following 10 years.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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