Qatar hits out at neighbours as Arab rift enters third week

Claudine Rigal
Juin 19, 2017

The news comes as the Gulf faces the biggest diplomatic crisis in recent years, with regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia and some of its allies suspending ties with gas-rich Qatar over accusations the emirate bankrolled Islamist extremists and had ties to rival Iran.

Tillerson had held talks on Tuesday with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan on Wednesday night. Apparently, several Arab states interpreted this as a signal that the moment had come to cut Qatar down to size. "The stakes are high because it can undermine what the [Gulf Cooperation Council] has achieved since its inception" in 1981, said Omar Mohamed, a strategic analyst with the government of Bahrain based in Manama, the capital.

Earlier on June 18, UAE-based Sharjah National Oil Corp said it did not expect flows of natural gas from Qatar to the UAE to be interrupted by the diplomatic dispute in the region. "It also strenuously denies that Minister Carmelo Abela has made the remarks reported b y, or any remarks whatsoever on the situation concerning Saudi Arabia and Qatar".

Joshua Teitelbaum, a specialist on Saudi Arabia at Bar Ilan University's Besa Center, says Saudi dissatisfaction with Doha is longstanding. They also urged their own citizens in Qatar to leave and threatened imprisonment and fines for anyone who criticizes the measures. "Qatar has to be brought around, put out of business or absorbed".

The political crisis in the Gulf prompted US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to announce on Friday that he was cancelling his planned trip next week to attend an Organisation of American States meeting in Mexico to instead remain in Washington to work on reducing diplomatic strains.

That agreements was signed in April 2016. "The Kuwaiti mediation will be very useful and there will be demands coming", Anwar Gargash UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs told a small group of reporters in Paris.

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