Qatar hits out at neighbors as Arab rift enters 3rd week
Qatar hit out on June 19 at four Arab nations for cutting diplomatic ties and transport links over Doha’s alleged support for terrorism, accusing them of a “publicity stunt” aimed solely at attacking its image and reputation.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar on June 5 in the worst diplomatic crisis in the region in years.
“The blockade has been ongoing for two weeks and the blockading nations have offered no formula for resolving the crisis,” Sheikh Saif Bin Ahmed al-Thani, Director of Qatar’s Government Communications Office, said in a statement.
“It is unfortunate that our neighbors have chosen to invest their time and resources in a baseless propaganda campaign... The blockading nations are using terrorism as a publicity stunt.”
The four countries accuse Qatar of fomenting instability in the Middle East, funding terrorism and cozying up to Shiite power Iran, accusations that Qatar denies.
Qatar will not negotiate with Arab countries unless they lift their measures, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said.
“Qatar is under blockade, there is no negotiation. They have to lift the blockade to start negotiations,” he told reporters. “Until now we didnt’ see any progress about lifting the blockade, which is the precondition for anything to move forward.”
He added that Qatar had still not received any demands from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which severed ties two weeks ago, triggering the worst Gulf Arab crisis in years. Qatar’s internal affairs are non-negotiable, he said, including the future of Doha-based channel Al Jazeera.