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