A Saudi-led bloc of Arab states hostile to Qatar took aim today at Kuwaiti mediation and maintained a tough line. Saudi Arabia led the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain in cutting ties with Qatar in June.
A Saudi-led bloc of Arab states hostile to Qatar took aim today at Kuwaiti mediation and maintained a tough line. Saudi Arabia led the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain in cutting ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of bankrolling Islamist extremist groups and of being too close to Iran. They also shut down air, maritime and land links and imposed economic sanctions on Qatar. The gas-rich emirate denies the claims and accuses the four countries of attacking its sovereignty. In a statement earlier today, the Saudi-led bloc showed no signs of backing down as it questioned the Kuwaiti emir’s statement that Qatar would be willing to accept their 13 demands. “Dialogue on the implementation of the demands should not be preceded by any conditions,” they said in the joint statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
The demands include shutting Doha-based broadcaster Al- Jazeera, closing a Turkish military base in the emirate and downgrading Qatari diplomatic ties with Iran. The bloc also voiced “regret” about the Kuwaiti ruler’s statement “on the success of mediation in stopping military intervention”. Instead, the four Arab states stressed that “the military option has not been and will not be considered” under any circumstances.
“Setting preconditions for dialogue confirms Qatar’s lack of seriousness in dialogue, combating and financing terrorism and interfering in the internal affairs of countries,” they said. In remarks aired on the Al-Jazeera network, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani rejected the Saudi-led bloc’s 13 demands.
Kuwait has emerged as a key mediator in the crisis, while the United States has given mixed signals on its policy.
Riyadh and Doha are both key allies of the United States.