Wednesday, 28 June 2017

QATAR: Forgive Qatar, Do Not Shut Al Jazeera, It Is Simply The Best

Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that have cut ties to Qatar issued a steep list of demands to end the crisis, insisting that Doha curb diplomatic ties with Iran and sever all ties terrorist organisations, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a 13-point list presented to the Qataris by Kuwait, which is helping mediate the crisis, the countries also demand an end to Turkey’s military presence in Qatar and for it to close Al Jazeera and its affiliate stations.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain broke ties with Qatar this month over allegations Doha funds terrorism,an accusation that US president Donald Trump has echoed. Those countries have now given Qatar 10 days to comply with all of the demands, which include paying an unspecified sum in compensation.

Qatari officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But the list included conditions that Doha had already insisted would never be met, including shutting down Al Jazeera.

Qatar’s government has said it will not negotiate until Arab nations lift their restrictions.

Only a day earlier, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson had warned the demands must be "reasonable and actionable."

The US issued that litmus test amid frustration at how long it was taking Saudi Arabia and others to formalise a list of demands, complicating US efforts to bring about a resolution to the worst Gulf diplomatic crisis in years.

According to the list, Qatar must refuse to naturalize citizens from the four countries and expel those currently in Qatar, in what the countries describe as an effort to keep Qatar from meddling in their internal affairs.

They are also demanding that Qatar hand over all individuals who are wanted by those four countries for terrorism; stop funding any extremist entities that are designated as terrorist groups by the US; and provide detailed information about opposition figures that Qatar has funded, ostensibly in Saudi Arabia and the other nations.

Qatar vehemently denies funding or supporting extremism. But the country acknowledges that it allows members of some extremist groups such as Hamas to reside in Qatar, arguing that fostering dialogue with those groups is key to resolving global conflicts.

Qatar’s neighbours have also accused it of backing Al Qaeda and ISIL’s ideology throughout the Middle East.

Those umbrella groups also appear on the list of entities whose ties with Qatar must be extinguished, along with Lebanon’s Hizbollah and the Al Qaeda branch in Syria.

More broadly, the list demands that Qatar align itself politically, economically and otherwise with the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The Iran provisions in the document say Qatar must shut down diplomatic posts in Iran, kick out any members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard in Qatar, and only conduct trade and commerce with Iran that complies with US sanctions.

Under the 2015 nuclear deal, nuclear-related sanctions on Iran were eased but other sanctions remain in place.

Cutting ties to Iran would prove incredibly difficult.

Qatar shares a massive offshore natural gas field with Iran which supplies the small nation that will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup its wealth.
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