Qatar seeks diplomatic solution to Middle East row
DOHA / ANKARA
REUTERS photoQatar seeks a way out to defeat an escalating pressure from Arab states, insisting that it sees no “military solution” to crisis.
Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al- Thani told reporters on June 8 in Doha that diplomacy was still Doha’s preferred option and there would never be a military solution to the problem.
“We are not ready to surrender, and will never be ready to surrender, the independence of our foreign policy,” al-Thani said. Qatar can survive ‘forever’ despite crisis, he added.
The United States, Kuwait’s emir and Turkey worked to end a row, with U.S. President Donald Trump offering to help resolve the crisis, possibly in a meeting at the White House. The United Arab Emirates cut postal ties to Qatar on June 8 while Saudi ally Bahrain reiterated a demand that Doha distance itself from regional foe Iran.
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and several other countries cut their diplomatic and transport ties with Doha on June 5, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants and their archfoe Iran – charges that Qatar says are baseless.
Turkey has pledged to provide food and water supplies to its Arab ally, which hosts a Turkish military base.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said isolating Qatar would not resolve any problems.
Erdoğan called Kuwait Sheikh Sabah late on June 7 following a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, discussing developments in the Gulf. Turkey, like Kuwait, has offered to mediate. Trump initially took sides with the Saudi-led group before apparently being nudged into a more even-handed approach when U.S. defense officials renewed praise of Doha, mindful of the major U.S. military base hosted by Qatar that serves, in part, as a launch-pad for strikes on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In his second intervention in the dispute in as many days, Trump urged action against terrorism in a call with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al- Thani, a White House statement said, suggesting a meeting at the White House “if necessary.”
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Gulf states could resolve the dispute among themselves without
“We have not asked for mediation. We believe this issue can be dealt with among the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council,” he told a news conference with his German counterpart during a visit to Berlin that was broadcast on Saudi state television.
The Kuwaiti leader went to the UAE and Qatar on June 7 for talks on the crisis and is now back in Kuwait. In an interview with BBC radio, UAE Ambassador to Russia Omar Saif Ghobash said Qatar had to choose between supporting extremism or supporting its neighbors.
“Qatar needs to decide: Do you want to be in the pocket of Turkey, Iran and Islamic extremists? They need to make a decision. They can’t have it both ways,” he added.