Lift siege before dialogue, Qatar tells Gulf countries
DOHAQatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah has conditioned the lifting of a blockage imposed on his country by four Arab states before engaging in any dialogue with its neighbors.
“Lifting the siege should precede any dialogue,” al-Attiyah said in an interview with Russia Today, excerpts of which was published by Qatar’s official news agency on July 25.
Qatar has been reeling under a blockage imposed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain since last month.
The four states accuse Doha of interfering in their affairs and supporting terrorism, a claim dismissed by Qatar, which contends that the blockade was in violation of international law.
“If the blockade countries remain reluctant to lift the siege, Qatar will be compelled to resort to the available international legal procedures to lift it,” al-Attiyah said.
Saudi Arabia and its allies unveiled a “terrorist” blacklist on July 25 of 18 organizations and individuals suspected of links with Islamist extremism that they said had ties with regional rival Qatar.
The group blacklisted nine charity and media organizations and nine individuals “directly or indirectly linked to Qatari authorities” as “terrorist,” a joint statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency said.
“We expect Qatari authorities to take the next step and prosecute the terrorist groups and people,” the statement added.
“The four countries and their international partners will ensure that Qatar has ceased its support and funding of terrorism, has stopped welcoming terrorists and has stopped spreading extremist and hate speech,” it added.
The Saudi-led bloc, which now blacklists 89 persons and organizations accused of ties to Islamist groups they say are backed by Qatar, also dismissed an amendment last week to Doha’s counter-terrorism law as “insufficient.”
Fresh from his two-day Gulf visit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on July 25 that he believes his meetings were important steps to rebuilding trust and stability in the region.
He said it is easy to destroy but always very difficult to rebuild.
Erdoğan met Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud and told him he has big expectations from him for a solution to the Gulf crisis. He said he also met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud before going to Kuwait where he met Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah to discuss bilateral relations and the crisis.
“My last stop was Qatar and we had very fruitful talks with Sheikh Tamim [bin Hamad al Thani],” Erdoğan said.
The Turkish president said he did not discuss the Turkish base in Qatar with Saudi Arabia or Kuwait in his meetings. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have demanded the removal of the Turkish base in Qatar as a condition to lift the blockade, but they later pulled the demand back.