LONDON – Agence France-Presse
The United Arab Emirates warned Qatar on July 17 that it could not belong to the Gulf Cooperation Council if it undermined regional security, calling for a “change of behavior” but not “regime change.”
Anwar Gargash, the UAE state minister for foreign affairs, also denied a Washington Post report saying that his country had been behind an alleged cyberattack on Qatar in May which sparked a crisis.
Speaking at the Chatham House international affairs think tank in London, Gargash repeated claims -- denied by Qatar -- that the country funds extremists.
“This is our message: You cannot be part of a regional organization dedicated to strengthening mutual security and furthering mutual interest and at the same time undermine that security,” he said.
“You cannot be both our friend and a friend of al-Qaeda.”
Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed sanctions on Doha
on June 5, including closing its only land border, denying Qatar access to their airspace and ordering their citizens back from the emirate.
The four Arab states accuse Qatar of ties to Iran
and of funding Islamist extremist groups. Qatar has denied the accusations.
The Gulf crisis is the worst to hit the region since the establishment of the GCC in 1981.
“We’ve sent a message to Qatar. We’ve said we are not there to escalate. We are not after regime change. We are after a change of behavior,” Gargash said.
“We need to do that and when we do that, come back to the fold and we can work together,” he added.
Gargash said there was a broader problem with financing for extremists in the Gulf but that countries like Saudi Arabia were “dealing with it.”
“The difference is that the Saudi government realizes it does have an issue and the Saudi government is acting over the last years to deal with this issue,” he said.