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Pressure mounts on Qatar

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad (left), meets with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad in Doha, Wednesday. — AP
  • US, Kuwait try to resolve the row
  • UAE cuts postal services to Qatar
  • Manama asks Doha to shun Iran

GULF states cranked up the pressure on Qatar on Thursday as US President Donald Trump and Kuwait’s emir worked to end an Arab row that Qataris say has led to a blockade of their country, an investment powerhouse and supplier of gas to world markets.

With Trump offering to help resolve the crisis, possibly with a meeting at the White House, the United Arab Emirates cut postal links to Qatar, and Bahrain reiterated a demand that Doha distance itself from regional foe Iran.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and several other countries severed diplomatic and transport ties with Doha on Monday, accusing it of supporting militants and their arch-foe Iran — charges Qatar says are baseless.

With food and other supplies disrupted and worries mounting about deepening economic turbulence, banks and firms in Gulf Arab states were seeking to keep business links to Qatar open and avoid a costly firesale of assets.

Turkey has brought forward a troop deployment to Qatar before apparently being nudged into a more even-handed approach when US defense officials renewed praise of Doha, mindful of the major US military base hosted by Qatar that serves, in part, as a launchpad for strikes on Daesh (the so-called IS) militants.

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, a White House statement said, suggesting a meeting at the White House “if necessary”.

It said that Trump, in a later call with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, called for unity among Gulf Arabs “but never at the expense of eliminating funding for radical extremism or defeating terrorism”.

Officials from Qatar and its Gulf Arab neighbors embarked on a quickening round of shuttle diplomacy, with the Qatari foreign minister due in Moscow and Brussels and Bahrain’s king visiting his ally Egypt for talks on the crisis.

Qatar called for “dialogue and diplomacy”.

The Qatari Ambassador to Washington, Meshal Hamad Al-Thani, wrote on Twitter that a key pillar of Doha’s foreign policy was mediation. “Open channels of communication means venues for conflict resolution,” he said.
But Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said Gulf states could resolve the dispute among themselves without outside help.

“We have not asked for mediation, we believe this issue can be dealt with among the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),” he told a news conference with his German counterpart during a visit to Berlin broadcast on Saudi state television.

The foreign minister of Oman met fellow GCC member Kuwait’s emir for talks. The Kuwaiti leader went to the UAE and Qatar on Wednesday for talks on the crisis and is now back in Kuwait.

In the meantime, Qatar’s neighbors kept up a drumbeat of criticism and warnings.

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.

“We have all kinds of recordings taking place where they (Qatar) are coordinating with Al-Qaeda in Syria,” he said.

“Qatar needs to decide: Do you want to be in the pocket of Turkey, Iran and extremists? They need to make a decision; they can’t have it both ways.

The Saudi newspaper Al Watan published what it called a list of eight “extremist organizations” seen as working to destabilize the region from Qatar, including Qatar’s Al Jazeera news channel, that were targeted by Gulf Arab states.

In an interview published by Saudi Arabic daily Asharq Al Awsat, Bahraini Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed said conditions posed by the four countries for a resolution of the crisis were “crystal clear”.

“Qatar has to redress its path and has to go back to all previous commitments, it has to stop media campaigns and has to distance itself from our number one enemy Iran.” — Agencies

Posted by: TimesofSaudia.com courtesy Saudi Gazette