What's next in the Gulf crisis

A foreign policy faux pas
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07 July, 2017

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt isolated Qatar diplomatically and economically after claiming it supports terrorist groups and implements policies that could jeopardise the equilibrium of the region. They later extended the deadline by another 48 hours at the request of Kuwait, which has acted as a mediator to resolve the crisis.

For his part, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir said: "Turkey told us it will remain neutral from the crisis, and we hope they will stick to that position".

On Wednesday, Egypt's foreign minister, Sameh Shukri said Qatar's official response to the demands - which was not made public - was "negative" and "does not realize the gravity of the situation", according to The Associated Press.

The United Nations undersecretary general, Jeffrey Feltman, met Qatar's minister of state for foreign affairs, Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi, on Thursday.

Four Arab states refrained on Wednesday from slapping further sanctions on Qatar but voiced disappointment at its "negative" response to their demands and said their boycott of the tiny Gulf nation would continue.

The Gulf Arab states required Doha to cut diplomatic relations with Iran, close the Turkish military base, eliminate Al-Jazeera TV channel, extradite all persons wanted in four countries on charges of terrorism and pay compensation.

The GCC includes Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar.

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They severed ties with Qatar a month ago, saying it supported terrorism and was allied with regional foe Iran, accusations Doha denied. Qatar had originally been given time till Sunday midnight to agree to them.

"The message from Cairo is zero tolerance for terrorism, (a) powerful message from Arab world to global community".

Qatar's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

Qatar dismisses the bloc's allegations that it sponsors terrorism and is too close to Iran, and has characterized its demands as created to be unacceptable.

Asked about the possibility of discontinuing Qatar's membership in the Gulf Cooperation Council, Sheikh Khalid said: "This is for the GCC to discuss". Iran also called the Saudi-led economic blockade of Qatar unacceptable and called for diplomatic steps to defuse the crisis, while promising to provide air, sea and land support to its "brother" country.

In a related development, US President Donald Trump spoke to Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah Al Sisi to urge all parties "to negotiate constructively".

According to the White House, the US President "reiterated the need for all countries to follow through on their commitments at the Riyadh summit to stop terrorist financing and discredit extremist ideology".


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