Qatar crisis: the latest developments

Led by Saudi Arabia, several states in the Middle East and Africa have severed ties with Qatar. They say the gas-rich Gulf state supports terrorism and Iran, an allegation which Qatar denies.

Photo by: Anadolu Agency
Photo by: Anadolu Agency

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al Thani said on Monday that Qatar would not negotiate with Arab states that have cut economic and travel ties with it unless they reverse their measures.

Updated Jun 25, 2017

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and several other Sunni-majority countries severed relations with Qatar. They accused the tiny Gulf state of supporting terrorism, based on its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Taliban. Another point of contention was Qatar's support of Iran, with whom it shares one of the world’s biggest gas fields.

Qatar has denied these accusations and called the collective decision "unjustified." Kuwait, Turkey and the US have all urged a political solution as the bloc continues to isolate Qatar using various ad hoc sanctions. This includes cutting off their land, sea and air travel to and from Qatar and stopping food exports to the country. 

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 was the result of a hack (read more here). Al Jazeera reported a massive cross-platform cyberattack on June 8.

Here are the latest developments in the crisis:

June 24, Saturday

A senior United Arab Emirates (UAE) official said on Saturday that if Qatar did not accept an ultimatum issued by Arab states which imposed a boycott this month on the tiny Gulf Arab nation, "the alternative is not escalation but parting ways".

A senior United Arab Emirates (UAE) official said on Saturday that if Qatar did not accept an ultimatum issued by Arab states which imposed a boycott this month on the tiny Gulf Arab nation, "the alternative is not escalation but parting ways".

Qatar says the demands received are under reasonable

Qatar confirmed on Saturday that it had received the demands from the four Arab states and added that the the list, that was not reasonable or actionable, is under review.

"We are reviewing these demands out of respect for ... regional security and there will be an official response from our ministry of foreign affairs," said Sheikh Saif al-Thani, the director of Qatar's government communications office.

The statement said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had recently called upon Saudi Arabia and the other countries to produce a list of grievances that was "reasonable and actionable."  "This list does not satisfy that criteria," al-Thani's statement added.

June 23, Friday

UAE not to back down if demands are not met

UAE said on Friday it would not back down if Doha does not engage with the demands. 

"They (demands) are all important. This is a consistent pattern of behaviour that affects all of us," the UAE ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, said. "We would hope that Qatar reacts by engaging and not by leaking documents and trying to have this litigated in public."

Special hearing on Qatar's request over blocked airspace

The UN aviation agency will hold a special hearing next Friday on Qatar's request to reopen Gulf airspace that was closed to its flights by its neighbours, Qatar's transport minister said on Friday.

Jassim Saif Al Sulaiti said the Gulf state was pushing to "get more routes for Qatar" and wants the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to open international air routes over Gulf waters currently managed by the UAE.

Qatar's Al Jazeera hits back at Arab states' attempt to close it down​

The Qatari-owned Al Jazeera television network hit back on Friday at reported demands by four Arab countries to close it down, calling them "nothing but an attempt to silence the freedom of expression in the region."

"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," Al Jazeera said. 

Turkey has no plans to reassess military base in Qatar  minister

Turkey's defence minister said his country has no plans to review its military base in Qatar and that any demand for its closure would represent interference in Ankara's relations with the Gulf state.

Defence Minister Fikri Isik told broadcaster NTV that he had not seen a demand for the base to be shut. "The base in Qatar is both a Turkish base and one that will preserve the security of Qatar and the region," Isik said in an interview.

Arab states send Qatar 13 demands to end crisis

Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that have cut ties to Qatar issued a steep list of demands Thursday to end the crisis, insisting that their Persian Gulf neighbour shutter Al Jazeera, cut back diplomatic ties to Iran, and sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a 13-point list – presented to the Qataris by Kuwait, which is helping mediate the crisis – the countries also demand an end to Turkey’s military presence in Qatar. 

Qatari officials did not reply immediately to requests for comment. But on Monday, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani said Qatar would not negotiate with the four states unless they lifted their measures against Doha.

June 22, Thursday

Turkish exports to Qatar triple during Gulf crisis  trade minister

Turkish exports to Qatar have tripled from their normal levels to $32.5 million since four Arab countries began boycotting the Gulf state on June 5, Turkey's Customs and Trade Minister Bulent Tufenkci said

Qatar expats say leave cancelled, travel restricted after Arab rift

Expatriates working in Qatar said on Thursday their employers had cancelled holidays and barred them from leaving the country in the wake of a rift with other Arab powers.

A Qatari government official said some leave had been cancelled in "essential government sectors" to keep staff on hand as authorities made plans to cope with the crisis, but did not mention travel restrictions or any focus on foreigners.

"Certain government bodies cancelled leave so staff were present to help with vital planning such as chartering new shipping routes and getting food into the country," said the Qatari official who declined to be named under briefing rules.

For more on Thursday's developments, click here.

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies