As Gulf dispute continues, Qatar’s expulsion from GCC could be next
London- Dissatisfied with Qatar’s response to their demands, Saudi Arabia and its allies may ratchet up the pressure with further sanctions, with the possibility of Doha being expelled from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) appearing more likely.
After a meeting July 5 in Cairo of the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in Cairo, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said his country’s position and the sanctions on Qatar would remain unchanged until Doha “amends its policies for the better.”
Jubeir said the decision to impose sanctions on Qatar was “painful” but also imperative because of Doha’s “support for terrorism and extremism, interference in the affairs of countries in the region, incitement and spreading hatred.”
The four countries imposing sanctions were not alone in their efforts, he said, with the international community supporting putting pressure on Qatar to cut terrorism links.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said talks regarding the suspension of Qatar from GCC would take place during its next meeting in Manama, the date of which has not been set.
“Our decisions will not be hasty. Decisions like these are very important… They have to be clear and well-studied,” Sheikh Khalid said.
Analysts said they expected Qatar to continue to involve international mediators to resolve the dispute. Abdel Moneim Said, chairman of Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, said Doha would look for more mediation from international actors, with the hope of generating support for its view that the sanctions constitute a blockade and not a boycott.
Said said the four countries involved in the dispute with Qatar were not likely to waiver in their 13 demands and were aware of Doha’s apparent lack of seriousness about them. He added that Turkey, which has been supporting Qatar, might be affected by the dispute.
“The government of Qatar has worked to thwart all diplomatic endeavours and efforts to resolve the issue, showing its obstinacy and refusal to reach a settlement, which again reflects its intention to continue its policy that is aimed at destabilising and undermining the security of the region, contrary to the aspirations and interest of the brotherly people of Qatar,” the countries involved in the crisis with Qatar said in a statement.
The statement did not specify what further steps would be taken against Qatar but the Saudi-funded Al Arabiya news channel reported that additional sanctions might include demanding international firms operating in the Gulf no longer deal with Qatar or face having their licences to do business revoked.
Al Arabiya reported that the suspension of the use of the Qatari currency in Gulf markets was a possibility, as was demanding international banks stop dealing with “suspicious Qatari funds.”
Saudi Arabia and its allies could refer Qatar to the UN Security Council and demand that Qatari nationals involved in the financing of terrorism be handed over to the International Criminal Court, the Al Arabiya report stated.
That group includes Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, a former al-Qaeda operative based in Qatar; Abd Al-Rahman al-Nuaimi, a Qatari national accused of financing the Islamic State (ISIS); and Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, Qatar’s former interior minister accused of harbouring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the purported mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
At the end of June, several major British banks stopped carrying the Qatari riyal. Lloyds Banking Group, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays said they were no longer buying and selling the Qatari currency because a “third-party supplier” was no longer offering it.
The crisis erupted after statements attributed to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani criticising US foreign policy and praising Iran were carried by the official Qatari News Agency. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Doha on June 5, saying that Qatar continued to interfere in their countries’ internal affairs and supported radical groups such as Hamas, the Taliban and the Muslim Brotherhood.