Saudi-led states blockading Qatar set to meet in Bahrain on Sunday to discuss further measures
Qatar Airways Group employees stand in front of a wall bearing a portrait of Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani during a gathering to showcase support to the country and its leader, in Doha (AFP)
Sunday 30 July 2017
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain are expected to discuss imposing new economic sanctions on Qatar when they meet in the Bahraini capital Manama on Sunday, the pan-Arab al-Hayat newspaper reported.
The four Arab states cut ties with Qatar on 5 June, accusing it of backing terrorist groups and cozying up to their arch-foe Iran, allegations Doha denies.
Foreign ministers of the four countries “are expected to impose sanctions that will gradually affect the Qatari economy,” al-Hayat newspaper said, citing unidentified Gulf sources, without giving any further details.
Bahrain’s state news agency BNA said on Saturday that King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa had hailed cooperation between the four countries in fighting terrorism.
King Hamad called for “the solidarity of all Arab countries in fighting terrorism and cutting off its financing … for the defence of our homelands”.
What’s behind this crisis, of course, is Qatari sovereignty and independence to put it very simply– Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed al-Thani, Qatari minister
Diplomatic efforts led by Kuwait and involving the United States and Turkey have failed to end the row, which has affected travel and communications between Qatar and the four countries and led to harsh verbal exchanges in the media.
Saudi Arabia has closed its land border with Qatar while all four countries have cut air and sea links with Doha, demanding the gas-exporting country take several measures to show it was changing its policies.
Turkey and Iran have stepped in to provide fresh produce, poultry and dairy products to Qatar instead of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with Oman providing alternative ports to those in the UAE.
The four Arab countries added 18 more groups and individuals they say are linked to Qatar to their terrorist lists last week.
Kuwait is leading mediation efforts in the crisis, the worst to grip the region since the 1981 creation of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.
Kuwait and Oman – GCC members along with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar – have not joined the Qatar boycott.
On Friday, Qatar said it would never bow to Saudi-led demands to “outsource” its foreign policy to resolve the Gulf crisis.
Qatar has had to rely on imports from Iran and Turkey since the crisis broke out (AFP)
Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed al-Thani, who holds ministerial rank, accused Doha’s adversaries in the crisis – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt – of meddling in Qatar’s internal affairs.
“What’s behind this crisis, of course, is Qatari sovereignty and independence to put it very simply. It is about … outsourcing our foreign policy so that decisions are not made in Qatar, and that is something that will never be acceptable,” he told AFP.
Sheikh Saif said the Saudi-led bloc had laid down a new “ultimatum” on Tuesday by publishing a list of individuals and “terrorist” entities allegedly linked to Doha.
The blacklist contained nine organisations and nine individuals the Saudi-led bloc accuses of supporting terrorists with finances from Qatar.
This “list, it’s still an ultimatum, it’s still something that is stalling resolving the crisis,” the official said.
However, “we have said it from the start, we are open to dialogue, we are open to negotiating … The first step should be lifting the illegal blockade.”