Saudi Arabia and allies insist demands non-negotiable as GCC crisis continues

Sunday 23/07/2017
Unfriendly fire. Emirati soldiers stand guard as military equipment is being unloaded from a military plane at the airport of Yemen’s southern port city of Aden. (Reuters)

London- Saudi Arabia restated that the dispute with fellow Gulf Cooperation Coun­cil (GCC) member Qatar will continue and that the measures taken by Riyadh and its allies will remain in place until Doha complies with their demands.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt is­sued a joint statement reiterating the four countries’ commitment to ensuring “the current measures would continue until the Qatari authorities were committed to complying with all demands that guarantee fighting terrorism and achieving stability and security in the region.”
There was confusion after Sau­di UN Ambassador Abdallah al- Mouallimi urged Doha to adhere to six principles to resolve the dispute, a statement that was in­terpreted by foreign media as a sof­tening of the initial 13 demands.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt issued 13 demands for Qatar to comply with to have sanc­tions lifted. The list included Qatar shutting down the Al Jazeera me­dia network, cutting off ties with radical groups and downgrading those with Iran. Doha refused to act on the demands.
The six principles mentioned by Mouallimi during a question-and-answer session with journalists at the United Nations included a com­mitment to combat extremism, ter­rorism and its financing, the prohi­bition of all acts of incitement and a commitment to refrain from inter­fering in the internal affairs of oth­er countries. They had previously been mentioned in a statement by the four boycotting countries’ for­eign ministers following a meeting July 5 in Cairo.
Some media outlets quoted Mouallimi as saying it “should be easy for the Qataris to accept” the six principles. Speaking to the Sau­di-owned Al Arabiya network, he denied making such statements, adding that “Qatar has to imple­ment all the demands” and that “we are going to head to interna­tional forums, including the [UN] Security Council, if Qatar does not comply.”
The UAE Ambassador to Russia Omar Saif Ghobash said Doha’s ties to terrorist organisations had com­promised the war in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is fighting in support of the internationally rec­ognised government against the Iran-allied Houthi rebels.
In an interview with the BBC’s “HARDtalk,” Ghobash said Qatar informed al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch of a pending military operation, resulting in the terror network con­ducting a suicide bombing opera­tion, injuring Emirati soldiers.
“Our Qatari allies informed al- Qaeda of our precise location and what we were planning to do. We then received four suicide bombers at our door,” Ghobash said.
Ghobash said audio and video evidence shows “known individu­als in Qatar giving instructions to known individuals whether it’s in Yemen, Libya or in Syria on carry­ing out certain acts.”
The crisis broke out after state­ments attributed to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani criticising US foreign policy and praising Iran were carried by the official Qatar News Agency.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Doha on June 5, saying that Qatar inter­feres in their countries’ internal affairs and has supported radical groups such as Hamas, the Taliban and the Muslim Brotherhood.