23:37 GMT27 May 2020
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    Persian Gulf Disarray: a Number of States Sever Relations With Qatar (238)

    Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt handed a 13-point ultimatum to Qatar on Friday, demanding for reducing ties to Iran, closing a Turkish military base and shutting down the Doha-based Al Jazeera news channel.

    In response, Qatar described the demands as unfeasible and urged for them to be revised after being given 10 days to comply.

    The Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television network cited the Qatari foreign minister who said the requirements were "not realistic." He reiterated that sanctions imposed on Qatar were an "illegal" attempt at tampering with the nation’s sovereignty and urged for them to be reviewed.

    According to Al Jazeera, the Qatari Foreign Ministry will examine the document and pass its response via the Kuwaiti government, which is mediating the diplomatic crisis.

    The Demands

    The 13-point list demands that Qatar, among other things, cut its ties with Iran, close a Turkish military base on its soil and shut down Al Jazeera and its affiliates. Other demands call on Doha to publically denounce relations with Islamist groups, end suspected financing of terrorism and hand over persons designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

    Moreover, Qatar is demanded to pay financial compensation, although the sum was not reported.

    On June 5, a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and embargoed all sea, air and land traffic to the country, accusing Doha of supporting terrorist groups, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist movement, as well as of interfering in other countries' domestic affairs. Several other states in the region have reduced diplomatic relations with the country.

    The Qatari Foreign Ministry rejected the accusations of Doha's interference in other countries' domestic affairs and expressed regret over the decision of the Gulf States to cut off diplomatic ties with it.

    After the list was published, Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Mohammed Qarqash accused the Qatari government of leaking the document to journalists.

    "Qatar leaking demands/ concerns of its neighbors & Egypt either attempt  to undermine serious mediation or yet another sign of callous policy. The leakage will further exasperate & prolong the Qatar crisis. Undermining serious diplomacy will lead to parting of ways," he wrote on Twitter.

    'On the Verge of War'

    It will be very difficult for Qatar to meet those demands, and the situation risks resulting in a serious conflict, according to Konstantin Truevtsev, an expert at the Valdai discussion club and senior research fellow at the Institute for Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

    "This is an ultimatum. For Qatar, it will be very difficult to comply with if the country wants to preserve its sovereignty. If this ultimatum is not implemented there will be more than a blockade or breach of diplomatic ties. Currently, the situation is on the verge of war," Truevtsev told Sputnik.

    According to the expert, only three of the demands are possible. They are cutting ties with Iran, closing the Turkish military base and shutting down Al Jazeera.

    The broadcaster is an entire information hub and its possible closure would be a "colossal threat, both financial and reputational," he added.
    "I doubt that Qatar will comply with those demands," Truevtsev said.

    Shutting Al-Jazeera a 'Crime'

    The Doha-based Al Jazeera satellite broadcaster described the demand on its shutting down as a "crime."

    "I am against calls to shut down any media outlet because it is a crime. It is a violation of freedom of speech. If the same was about BBC or any other channel I would take the same stance," Al Jazeera Chairman Chairman Yasser Abu Hilala told Sputnik.

    He underscored that if there has been any violation of law by Al Jazeera the broadcaster could be brought to court in Qatar or any other country, but the demand to shut it is a "crime."

    The broadcaster runs offices in over 60 countries around the world and has a reputation as a reliable source of information. According to Hilala, Al Jazeera has been providing unbiased coverage of the Qatar diplomatic crisis, giving the floor to each of the conflicting parties.

    "Our channel is funded by the Qatari budget. We provided  our services for the Arab and international audience. We will continue our work," he added.

    Earlier, the UAE blocked Al Jazeera on its territory. The broadcaster’s offices have also been closed in Riyadh and Amman.

    Saudi Arabia demanded Qatar change its policy, in order to adjust Al Jazeera’s broadcasting to the interests of the Gulf States. However, the call has been refused by the broadcaster.

    Persian Gulf Disarray: a Number of States Sever Relations With Qatar (238)


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