Qatar crisis: The latest developments

Led by Saudi Arabia, several states in the Middle East and Africa severed ties with Qatar since June 5, accusing the gas-rich Gulf state of supporting terrorism and Iran.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Passengers wait at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, June 12, 2017.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and several other Sunni-majority countries have severed relations with Qatar since June 5, accusing the Gulf state of supporting terrorism based on its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Taliban. Another point of departure is Qatar’s ties with Iran, with whom it shares one of the world’s biggest gas fields.

Qatar has denied the accusations and called the collective decision "unjustified." Kuwait, Turkey and the US have all urged a political solution as the bloc isolates Qatar using various ad hoc sanctions, including shutting down their air space to Qataris and blocking import routes.

The dispute began in May when Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani was reported to have made statements on the state news agency supporting Iran. Doha said the statements were fabricated and disseminated via a hack (Read more here). Al Jazeera on June 8 reported a massive cross-platform cyberattack.

Here are the latest developments in the crisis:

June 13, Tuesday

Saudi Arabia ready to provide aid to Qatar 

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir said his country was ready to provide food and medical aid to Qatar if needed, Sky News Arabia reported.

Jubeir defended the Arab powers' move against the gas-rich emirate as a boycott, not a blockade, saying his government was exercising its "sovereign right".

Erdogan says the isolation of Qatar is "inhumane" and unacceptable

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the isolation of Qatar as "inhumane and against Islamic values," and said the methods used against the Gulf state were unacceptable.

"The king of Saudi Arabia, as leader of the Gulf, should solve this issue. I especially think that he should lead the way to resolving this crisis," Erdogan also said.

Russia's Putin and Saudi King Salman discuss Qatar crisis

Putin and Saudi Arabia's King Salman discussed the Qatar crisis in a phone call, the Kremlin said in a statement. The diplomatic row was not helping either to resolve the Syria crisis or fight terrorism, the Kremlin said.

Pakistani PM hopes for swift resolution

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed hopes for a swift resolution to the Qatar crisis following a visit to Saudi Arabia. Sharif, army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and senior ministers sought to calm tensions over the Gulf standoff.

Pakistan, which has close ties with the kingdom but also business ventures in Qatar, has stayed out of the dispute.

“Saudi Arabia airspace closed to protect citizens from threats”

Saudi Arabia's aviation body says closing its airspace to flights from Qatar was within its sovereign rights to protect its citizens from any threat, according to the General Authority of Civil Aviation’s statement published by the Saudi Press Agency.

The remarks came after the Qatar Airways chief executive accused the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and its allies of violating international law by shutting out Qatari flights.

Qatar aluminium exports go as planned: Hydro CEO

Qatar’s Qatalum aluminium plant is now exporting metals via ports in Kuwait and Oman, as well as a Qatari container port.

"There's a recently completed container port in Qatar which we've begun using, and we also have shipments through Kuwait and Oman, solving this for the short term," Norsk Hydro Chief Executive Svein Richard Brandtzaeg said on the sidelines of a conference.

The Qatalum plant produces more than 600,000 tonnes of primary aluminium per year.

June 12, Monday

Airlifting cows

In an act of resistance and to supply the shortfall of fresh milk which results from the Saudi trade blockade, a Qatari businessman is flying 4,000 cows to the gas-rich state.

The cows from Australia and the US will fly Qatar Airways. At least 60 flights are needed to deliver the 590-kilogramme beasts that Moutaz al Khayyat, the chairman of Power International Holding, purchased for local use.

“This is the time to work for Qatar,” he said.

Turkey’s FM meets Gulf envoys

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held a joint meeting with Saudi Arabian, Bahraini and Emirati envoys in Turkey’s capital Ankara.

Cavusoglu raised Turkey’s concerns and expectations from the international community over the crisis at the meeting.

Morocco to send food

“On the instruction of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Morocco has decided to send aircraft loaded with food products to the State of Qatar,” a foreign ministry statement read.

Blockade of Qatar a complex situation: Mattis

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said the blockade against Qatar was a "very complex situation" and it was an area where common ground had to be found.

Mattis told the US House Armed Services Committee that Qatar's emir had inherited a difficult situation and was moving in the right direction.

“Qatar maintains high standard of living”

Qatar's economy minister said in an interview with Al Jazeera English on Monday that the small Gulf state would be able to maintain a high standard of living for its residents despite the severing of diplomatic, trade and travel links last week.

Ahmed bin Jassim al Thani said Qatar had a one-year reserve of primary materials needed for major construction projects, according to a tweet by the journalist who conducted the interview.

Macron speaks to Kuwaiti emir

France's President Emmanuel Macron spoke to the Kuwait emir to discuss the rift between Qatar and the African and Arab states, the Elysee Palace said.

“Ease the blockade”

Britain urged Gulf states including Saudi Arabia to ease the blockade against Qatar and to find an immediate solution to the impasse through mediation.

"I am also concerned by some of the strong actions which Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain have taken against an important partner," Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said after meeting Qatar's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani.

Johnson said he would urge them "to ease the blockade on Qatar."

Johnson will meet with his counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates later this week.

Kuwait warns of "undesirable consequences"

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah, who has led mediation efforts to resolve the worst diplomatic row seen in the Gulf in years, cautioned that the dispute could lead to "undesirable consequences," in comments carried by state news agency KUNA.

"It is difficult for us, the generation that built the GCC 37 years ago, to see these disagreements between its members which may lead to undesirable consequences," said Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad.

"I personally lived through the first building blocks of this council nearly four decades ago, so it is not easy for someone like me as a leader to stand silent without doing everything I can to bring brothers back together."

No compromise on "independent" foreign policy

Sheikh Mohammed said he "still had no clue" why fellow Gulf states cut ties with Doha.

"It's not about Iran or Al Jazeera," Qatar’s foreign minister told reporters in Paris after meeting his French counterpart.

"We have no clue about the real reasons."

He added Qatar was willing to "negotiate" on the security matters of the Gulf countries, but would maintain an independent foreign policy. Read more on the story here.

For more on Monday’s developments click here

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies