Qatar officially responds to Saudi-led demands

The Qatari response was delivered hours after four Gulf nations accepted a call by Kuwait to extend the 10-day deadline by another 48 hours.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A man writes on a painting depicting Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani in Doha, Qatar, July 2, 2017.

Updated Jul 4, 2017

Qatar on Monday handed its official response to a list of demands made by Saudi Arabia and its allies to the emir of Kuwait, a Gulf official said.

The response was delivered by Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani who made a short visit to Kuwait, which is acting as a mediator to resolve the diplomatic rift, the Gulf official said, requesting anonymity.

Kuwait's KUNA news agency reported that Sheikh Mohammed arrived in Kuwait earlier in the day to deliver a message from Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

No details were provided about the Qatari response, but the foreign minister said on Saturday that the demands by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt "were made to be rejected."

The Qatari response was delivered hours after the four nations accepted a call by Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to extend the 10-day deadline by another 48 hours.

Rift with Qatar started in 2011

The dispute between Qatar and Arab countries is the latest chapter in the rift that goes back to the 2011 Arab Spring.

The protests, which aspired to democratic reform, turned into warfare in several countries.

Egypt and especially the UAE, emerged as main foes of an ascendant Muslim Brotherhood backed by Qatar.

TRT World's Zeina Awad reports from Doha, Qatar.

In 2014, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar and alleged interference in the internal affairs of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.

However, the dispute was resolved eight months later.

In May 2017, Qatar's news agency was hacked and a fake statement attributed to Qatar's Emir was published expressing support for Iran.

Despite Doha saying the statements were fabricated and disseminated via a hack, media in Saudi and UAE blamed Qatar for the comments.

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

Qatar denied the accusations and called the collective decision "unjustified."

The GCC countries later issued a list of 13 demands for Qatar to comply with, in return for the blockade being lifted.

Kuwait, Turkey and the US have all urged a political solution to this deepening crisis.

"No reason to fear Qatar and Turkey's defence ties"

Qatar’s ambassador to Turkey, Salem Bin Mubarak, has dismissed fears about defence relations between Doha and Ankara.

“There is no reason to be afraid of our defence relations with Turkey,” the envoy said.

“No one has the right to meddle in or comment on our relations,” he stressed.

“This is a sovereign issue and there is no need to make a fuss about it.”

Turkey has vowed to stand by Qatar and called on Saudi Arabia to end all sanctions.

Last month, Turkey’s parliament ratified two deals on deploying troops to Qatar and training its army.

Demands to close Turkish base “illogical”

The Qatari diplomat dismissed calls by the four countries for Doha to close the Turkish base in Qatar as “illogical.”


Turkish troops seen at their military base in Doha, Qatar, June 23, 2017 (Reuters)

“We don’t see any reason that prevents us from having defence cooperation with Turkey,” he said. “On the contrary, circumstances in the region dictate us to cooperate intensively and effectively in this regard.”

The ambassador went on to describe his country’s defence cooperation with Turkey as “very good.”

“The two countries are looking to bolstering this cooperation,” he said.

It was a sentiment backed by Turkey’s deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus, who later on Monday said that Turkey’s military base in Qatar was there for regional stability.

“Our military presence will remain there. Therefore, attributing Turkey’s military presence to the political crisis between Qatar and Saudi Arabia would cause extremely wrong results. If this crisis is deepened, all regional states would pay the price, not one specific state.”

He said that Turkey’s military base had nothing to do with tensions that exist between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Making Qatar toe Saudi's line

Bin Mubarak described the US position at the start of the Gulf crisis as “confused.”

“This position, however, is becoming balanced,” he said. “Washington now rejects the measures taken by the blockade states and wants them to present realistic and reasonable demands.”

The diplomat went on to describe Qatari-US relations as “strong and able to stand in the face of challenges.”

He further said the blockade aims to make Doha toe Riyadh's line.  

Qatar strong enough to survive the blockade

Bin Mubarak said that Qatar could survive the blockade imposed by the four Arab countries.

The blockade “has taught the Qataris the importance of diversifying our trade, economic and political relations,” he said.

The envoy said Qatar “has won the moral and diplomatic battle” against the countries imposing the blockade.

“Now, they are looking for new tools for escalations and threats in violation of international law.”

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies