By Zaid Sabah
The Qatari government’s refusal to accept the diplomatic demands of the four-nation Saudi bloc demonstrates that the emirate has links to terrorist groups, according to the state-owned Saudi Press Agency, citing a statement from the alliance.
In the statement, the four countries — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt — expressed their “deep surprise” that Qatar rejected the 13 demands, saying that they were now “null and void.” They pledged new political, economic and legal measures against the Gulf nation.
“The Qatari government has thwarted all efforts and diplomatic good offices to resolve the crisis, a fact that confirm its intransigence and rejection of any settlement, reflecting its intention to continue its policy aimed at destabilizing security of the region,” the nations said.
The bloc has demanded that Qatar scale back ties with Iran, the Shiite Muslim powerhouse that’s the main rival to Saudi Arabia in the region, sever relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and shut the Al Jazeera media network. The four countries gathered in Cairo this week to discuss the monthlong spat as the deadline for Qatar to submit to their 13 demands elapsed.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to Kuwait on July 10 to discuss efforts to resolve the dispute, the state department said in a statement.
Qatar denies charges that it’s destabilizing the region by supporting terrorism and cozying up to Iran. On Wednesday, its foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, told a Chatham House event that Saudi Arabia and its allies see Qatar as “punching above its weight” and want to silence an alternative voice.
The standoff is becoming costlier for Qatar, the world’s largest exporters of liquefied natural gas, the longer it drags out. With air, land and sea links cut, Turkey stepped in to ship food imports that once came in by land through Saudi Arabia, and Iran also promised assistance.
The emirate, which is to host the 2022 soccer World Cup, has been able to weather the brunt of the measures only because of its vast natural gas wealth. Still, Moody’s Investors Service this week cut its credit outlook for the country to negative, while Qatar’s stock market has lost about $15 billion in market value, or 10 percent, since the Saudi-led boycott went into effect on June 5.