Saudi Arabia plays down Qatar isolation

Long held rivalries between the tribes and royal families that rule the Arabian peninsula are now out in the open. Qatar is standing up against its big brother, Saudi Arabia, but the question is for how long.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The diplomatic spat between Qatar and its Gulf Arab neighbours continues as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slams attempts to isolate Doha. However, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir, pictured above, downplayed the measures.

Updated Jun 14, 2017

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al Jubeir played down a diplomatic spat between Qatar and its Arab neighbours in the Gulf during an official visit to Washington, where he met with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its Arab allies, including Yemen, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Libya placed sanctions on Qatar earlier this month, accusing the authorities in Doha of propping up the Muslim Brotherhood, which they consider to be a terrorist organisation.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the economic and political isolation of Qatar, calling it inhumane and unacceptable. Erdogan said the decision by Gulf states to cut ties with Qatar was like imposing a death sentence.

But speaking in Washington, the Saudi foreign minister said that there was no blockade on Qatar.

“Qatar is free to go. The ports are open. The airports are open,” Jubeir said. “What we have done is we have denied them use of our air space and this is our right.”

“The limitation on the use of Saudi air space is only limited to Qatar Airways, not anyone else.”

As TRT World ’s Nicole Johnston reports from Doha, there are some who believe rivalry is at the heart of the matter.