The United Arab Emirates, one of four Arab countries embroiled in a political dispute with Qatar, said on Friday it would not back down if Doha does not engage with demands that include requiring it to curb ties with Iran. The countries’ ultimatum to Doha includes closing Al Jazeera television, curbing ties with Iran, shutting a Turkish base and paying reparations, demands so far-reaching it would appear to be hard for Doha to comply. “This is our list of demands from Qatar. They’re (demands) are all important. This is a consistent pattern of behavior that affects all of us,” the UAE ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, told Reuters. “We would hope that Qatar reacts by engaging and not by leaking documents and trying to have this litigated in public.”
If Qatar does not engage, “things will stay at the status quo, things will stay as they are,” he said. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE have cut economic, diplomatic and travel ties with Qatar, which they accuse of funding terrorism, fomenting regional unrest and drawing too close to their enemy, Iran. Qatar rejects those accusations and says it is being punished for straying from its neighbors’ backing for authoritarian hereditary and military rulers.
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Otaiba also accused Qatar of leaking the 13-point list of demands, an accusation made by UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash earlier on Friday. Asked to respond to accusations by UAE officials that Qatar had leaked the document, the Qatar embassy in Washington did not comment. The UAE has said sanctions could last for years. Qatar, the world’s richest country per capita, says the sanctions amount to a “blockade,” but it has ample reserves to weather the storm.
Washington, which is a close military ally of countries on both sides of the dispute, had called for a resolution. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Qatar’s neighbors should make their demands “reasonable and actionable”. The dispute is a test for the United States, which has a large base in Qatar that is home to the headquarters of its Middle East air power and 11,000 troops.