Qatar responds to Arab Nations’ demands in handwritten letter following deadline extension


Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 04 July 2017| 09 Shawaal 1438

Qatar’s Foreign Minister has personally delivered a handwritten letter in response to a list of demands from Saudi Arabia and its allies after the Arab nations severed diplomatic ties to the country, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups and backing Iran.

Saudi Arabia and its allies announced on June 5 they were severing ties with their Gulf neighbour, sparking the worst diplomatic crisis to hit the region in decades.

They accused Qatar of supporting extremism and of being too close to Saudi Arabia’s regional archrival Iran, which Doha has strongly denied.

The crisis has raised concerns of growing instability in the region, home to some of the world’s largest energy exporters and several key Western allies who host US military bases.

Riyadh and its supporters have already severed air, sea and ground links with Qatar, cutting off vital routes for imports including food.

The Arab nations issued a 13-point list of demands to end the standoff on June 22 and gave the natural gas-rich country 10 days to comply.

They also ordered Qatari citizens to leave their territories and took various steps against Qatari firms and financial institutions.

But Qatar’s defence minister has since claimed the “country is ready to defend itself if necessary”.

“Qatar is not an easy country to be swallowed by anyone. We are ready. We stand ready to defend our country,” Khalid Al Attiyah told reporters earlier this week.

“I hope that we don’t come to a stage where, you know, a military intervention is made.”
It is unclear what further measures will be taken if Qatar fails to meet the demands, but the UAE’s ambassador to Russia Omar Ghobash warned last week that further sanctions could be imposed.

The four Arab nations extended the deadline by 48-hours yesterday for Qatar to respond to their list of demands. Sheik Mohammed’s delivery of the handwritten response came just in time.

Qatar has long pursued a more independent foreign policy than many of its neighbours, who tend to follow the lead of regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia.

Qatar long has denied sponsoring militants and defends its ties to Iran based a massive offshore natural gas field the two countries share.
Details of the written response were not immediately available, but a Gulf official told AFP that Qatari Sheikh Mohammed had delivered it during a short visit to Kuwait, which is acting as a mediator in the crisis.

Sheik Mohammed had earlier said the list of demands was “made to be rejected” and on Monday British lawyers for Qatar denounced the demands as “an affront to international law”.

“They are reminiscent of the extreme and punitive conduct of ‘bully’ states that have historically resulted in war,” said the lawyers.

In the evening, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir expressed hopes for a “positive response to be able to resolve the crisis”.

Qatar’s reply would be “examined with precision”, Jubeir told a news conference with German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

Qatar has long pursued a more independent foreign policy than many of its neighbours, who tend to follow the lead of regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia.

Kuwait, which along with fellow GCC member Oman has not cut ties with Qatar, has been heading up mediation efforts.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has also called for compromise and hosted senior Gulf officials, but his efforts have been undermined by remarks from President Donald Trump apparently supporting Riyadh’s position.

Trump spoke separately on Sunday with the Saudi king, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince and the Qatari emir about his concerns over the dispute, the White House said.

The US president “underscored that unity in the region is critical” but also “reiterated the importance of stopping terrorist financing and discrediting extremist ideology,” a statement said.

Egypt said it would host the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE on Wednesday to discuss the crisis.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani is expected to visit Paris “before the end of the summer” for talks on the Gulf crisis with President Emmanuel Macron, the French presidency said Monday.

The two leaders spoke by phone and Macron said hhe would bring up the issue on the margins of this week’s G20 summit and with Trump when he visits Paris on July 13-14.

Meanwhile Germany announced that Saudi King Salman had cancelled plans to attend the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg.

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