Monday, 3 July 2017

QATAR: After 10 Days Ultimatum, Qatar Given Another 48 Hours To Accept Demands By Arab Countries

Foreign ministers of nations boycotting Qatar will meet in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss their next steps.

Saudi Arabia and three allies boycotting Qatar have agreed to a request by Kuwait to extend by 48 hours Sunday's deadline for Doha to comply with a set of demands, according to a joint statement on Saudi state news agency SPA.

Kuwait had received a response by Qatar to a list of 13 demands presented to it by a Saudi-led bloc of Arab countries, Kuwait's state news agency KUNA said on Monday.

Without stating whether Qatar had rejected the ultimatum as was widely expected, Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah asked Saudi Arabia and three other countries that have boycotted Qatar to grant it a 48-hour extension.

Kuwait is mediating in the crisis.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed sanctions on it on June 5, accusing it of supporting "terrorism". The allegation is rejected by Qatar.

After more than two weeks, the four countries gave Qatar a 10-day ultimatum, which expired on Sunday night, to comply with a 13-point demand list in exchange for the end of the anti-Qatar measures.

There was no other information about Qatar's official response, but the Qatari foreign minister has already said that Qatar would not meet the demands, saying the list was meant to be rejected.

Speaking on Saturday, the foreign minister said Qatar offered instead a proper condition for a dialogue to resolve the Gulf crisis.

Everyone is aware that these demands are meant to infringe the sovereignty of the state of Qatar, shut the freedom of speech and impose auditing and probation mechanism for Qatar, he said during a visit to Rome.

We believe that the world is not governed by ultimatums, we believe that the world is governed by the international law, it is governed by an order that does not allow large countries to bully small countries.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have insisted the demands were non-negotiable.

The foreign ministers of the four countries will meet on Wednesday in Egypt's capital, Cairo, to discuss their next steps, according to a statement by the Egyptian foreign ministry.

The UAE ambassador to Russia, Omar Ghobash, has previously said that Qatar could face fresh sanctions if it does not comply with the demands.

The demands submitted by the Arab neighbours included that Qatar shut down the Al Jazeera network, close a Turkish military base and scale down ties with Iran.

In the list, the four Arab countries also demand that Qatar sever all alleged ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups, including Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and ISIS, and pay an unspecified sum in compensation for what they claimed to be loss of life and other financial losses caused by Qatar's policies.

A US state department official said on Sunday that Washington encourages all parties to exercise restraint to allow for productive diplomatic discussions. We are not going to get ahead of those discussions. We fully support Kuwaiti mediation.

Saudi Arabia has reiterated that its demands to Qatar to end the standoff in the Gulf were non-negotiable.

Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi foreign minister, said on Twitter on Saturday that demands on Qatar to stop funding terrorism are non-negotiable.

Restrictions on Qatar show zero tolerance for terrorism, Jubeir said, claiming that Qatar had failed to keep previous pledges of stopping funding terrorism and interfering in other countries' affairs. Qatar denies all allegations.

Jubeir made a similar statement last week in Washington, DC, when asked by reporters if the 13 point list of demands that are widely denounced as unrealistic was non-negotiable.

We made our point, we took our steps and it's up to the Qataris to amend their behaviour and once they do, things will be worked out, but if they don't they will remain isolated, he said.

The demands issued with a 10-day deadline last week include downgrading ties with Iran, shutting down Al Jazeera Media Network and Turkish military base in Doha.

The exact time of the deadline was not discussed but it is expected to become void at the end of the ten day ultimatum.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed sanctions on the country on June 5, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

The four Arab countries have not provided any evidence for their claim.

On Friday, Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani asked members of UN's Security Council to urge a Saudi-led bloc of states to lift their blockade on the Gulf country.

Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that have cut ties to Qatar have reportedly issued a list of demands to end a major Gulf crisis, insisting that Qatar shut down the Al Jazeera network, close a Turkish military base and scale down ties with Iran.

In the 13-point list, the countries also demand that Qatar sever all alleged ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and with other groups, including Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties to Qatar this month over allegations that the country funds terrorism,an accusation that Qatar denies.

According to the list, Qatar must refuse to naturalise citizens from the four countries and revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries' laws.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson insisted that Qatar's neighbours provide a list of demands that was reasonable and actionable.

About Iran,Qatar must shut down diplomatic posts in Iran, expel any members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, and only conduct trade and commerce with Iran that complies with US sanctions.

On Al Jazeera state that Qatar must also shut down all affiliates and other news outlets that Qatar funds, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al Jadeed and Middle East Eye.

If Qatar agrees to comply, the list asserts that it will be audited once a month for the first year, and then once per quarter in the second year after it takes effect.

For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.

The document does not specify what the countries will do if Qatar refuses to comply.

Demands imposed on Qatar

- Scale down diplomatic ties with Iran and close the Iranian diplomatic missions in Qatar, expel members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard and cut off military and intelligence cooperation with Iran. Trade and commerce with Iran must comply with US and international sanctions in a manner that does not jeopardise the security of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

- Immediately shut down the Turkish military base, which is currently under construction, and halt military cooperation with Turkey inside of Qatar.

- Sever ties to all terrorist, sectarian and ideological organisations, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIL, al-Qaeda, Fateh al-Sham formerly known as the Nusra Front and Lebanon's Hezbollah. Formally declare these entities as terror groups as per the list announced by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt, and concur with all future updates of this list.

- Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, US and other countries.

- Hand over terrorist figures, fugitives and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.

- Shut down Al Jazeera and its affiliate stations.

- End interference in sovereign countries' internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for nationals where such citizenship violates those countries' laws.

- Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other financial losses caused by Qatar's policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.

- Align Qatar's military, political, social and economic policies with the other Gulf and Arab countries, as well as on economic matters, as per the 2014 agreement reached with Saudi Arabia.

- Cease contact with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over files detailing Qatar’s prior contact with and support for opposition groups, and submit details of their personal information and the support Qatar has provided them.

- Shut down all news outlets funded directly and indirectly by Qatar, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al Jadeed, Mekameleen and Middle East Eye, etc.

- Agree to all the demands within 10 days of list being submitted to Qatar, or the list will become invalid.

- Consent to monthly compliance audits in the first year after agreeing to the demands, followed by quarterly audits in the second year, and annual audits in the following 10 years.

Fikri Isik, Turkey's defence minister, said his country had no plans to review its military base in Qatar and that any demand for its closure would represent interference in the country's relations with the Gulf state.

Isik said that he had not yet seen a demand for the base to be shut.

The base in Qatar is both a Turkish base and one that will preserve the security of Qatar and the region, Isik said.

Re-evaluating the base agreement with Qatar is not on our agenda.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra said the list will be rejected by Qatar.

Qatar has said it will only look into the demands once the sanctions are lifted, he said, adding that Qatar had already said that closing Al Jazeera was off the table.

It is a matter of national sovereignty. Anything that is presented to the Qataris which it considers to be interference in its internal affairs is going to be dismissed, Ahelbarra said.

Just yesterday the general sentiment we had was that perhaps the international community and GCC will turn toward restoring ties. But at this particular moment, I believe that there will be further escalation, mounting tension because of these demands.

To ask for compensation, you have to have the Qatari government say;Sorry, I've made mistakes, and look into every single instance where Qataris made mistakes.

This is unprecedented in the Arab world. What if the Qataris say the Saudis have to pay compensation for every single civilian killed or innocent life taken all over the world. This is really surreal, Ahelbarra added.

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