Qatar row: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain order Al Jazeera to leave

Frederick Owens
June 24, 2017

Qatar has been told it must close the broadcaster Al Jazeera and meet 12 other demands to lift a blockade by countries including Saudi Arabia.

Al Jazeera on Friday reported that the list was presented to Qatar by neighbouring Kuwait, which is acting as a mediator in the crisis. In the past, Doha-based Al Jazeera has been critical of Saudi Arabia and Egypt's military government.

The list also demanded that Doha severe all ties with "terrorist organisations", including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State group, Al Qaeda and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Qatar confirmed it received a list of demands from countries which have cut diplomatic ties with Doha, according to a statement released on state media. But Qatar has pushed back, claiming the sanctions are aimed at "limiting Qatar's sovereignty, and outsourcing our foreign policy", rather than fighting terrorism.

One of the diplomats said the list clearly falls short of that, while the other said it was meant to be the basis of secret negotiations, rather than to be published.

One can be sure this is the reaction that the Emir of Qatar had when he saw the demands.

But Anwar Gargash added that the countries were not seeking to overthrow the Qatari leadership, the Associated Press news agency reports.

"The brother (Qatar) must realize that the solution for its crisis lies not in Tehran or Beirut or Ankara or Western capitals or in media outlets, but in regaining the trust of its neighbors".

Qatar, which is the world's richest country per capita, has been flexing its muscles in the Middle East in recent years.

Qatar denies it released the demands.

However, Al-Jazeera on Friday denounced demands to shut down the network by countries involved in a dispute and said that any call to close down the network is an attempt to silence freedom of expression in the region.

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Saudi Arabia demanded Qatar change its policy, in order to adjust Al Jazeera's broadcasting to the interests of the Gulf States.

Qatar has been under unprecedented diplomatic and economic sanctions for more than two weeks, with Iran and Turkey increasingly supplying it with food and other goods.

It supported the Muslim Brotherhood's regime in Egypt before the military coup there in 2013, creating friction with regional boss Saudi Arabia and the politicians now ruling Egypt.

Saudi Arabia regularly accuses Iran, its regional rival, of interference throughout the Middle East.

Though Qatar is likely to reject the demands, the list answers the growing call from the United States and from Qatar for the countries to put their grievances in writing.

Qatar's main import routes - by land from Saudi Arabia and by sea from container ships docked in the UAE - have been disrupted, and much of the surrounding airspace has been closed to its air traffic.

"The demands are so aggressive that it makes it close to impossible to now see a resolution of that conflict", said Olivier Jakob, a strategist at Switzerland-based oil consultancy Petromatrix. "Undermining serious diplomacy will lead to parting of ways", he wrote on Twitter.

The crisis has also drawn in the United States, whose Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called for Gulf unity.

State-run Qatar Petroleum says that some critically important employees "may have been asked to postpone" trips overseas "for operational reasons" as a result of the embargo by Gulf Arab states against Qatar.

The rift between the US Gulf allies has been awkward for Washington.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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