By Tsvetana Paraskova
The four Arab states that are leading the boycott against Qatar vowed on Friday to take new measures against their tiny gas-rich neighbor after Doha rejected in full the list of ultimatums.
Despite the public threats of “new measures”, Qatar’s Finance Minister, Ali Sharif al-Emadi, told The Times today that Qatar is too rich to worry about what Saudi Arabia thinks, and that their huge financial resources would provide the small gas-rich nation the resources necessary to weather the sanctions.
“We have sovereign wealth funds of 250 per cent of gross domestic product, we have Qatar Central Bank reserves, and we have a ministry of finance strategic reserve,” al-Emadi told The Times. “Bahrain and Egypt, they are at junk bond level. If you look at Saudi Arabia, they are having genuine issues with their finances,” the minister said.
In a joint statement posted on Saudi Press Agency, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates “expressed their deep surprise over the unjustified refusal by the Qatari government to the legitimate list and logical demands aimed at fighting terrorism, preventing embracing and financing it, combating extremism in all its forms and manifestations for the sake of world peace, and safeguarding Arab and international security.”
On Friday, the Saudi-led coalition added that “All political, economic and legal measures and procedures shall be taken in the form deemed appropriate and timely in a manner that preserves their rights, security and stability towards a hostile Qatari government policy,” without specifying what these measures might entail.
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Two weeks ago, the four countries issued a list of 13 demands to Qatar, giving their isolated neighbor just 10 days to meet those demands, which included severing ties with Saudi archrival Iran, and closing the Al-Jazeera TV network. At the end of the 10-day deadline, the four countries that had cut ties with Qatar gave their neighbor another 48 hours to meet those demands. Qatar did not.
Mohab Mamish, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority—one of the busiest waterways in the world—said on Friday that the canal authorities cannot ban Qatari ships from passing through the canal because of international treaties. But Qatari ships will be barred from using Egyptian ports and the economic zone in the canal, the AP quoted Mamish as saying.
The U.S. Department of State said on Thursday that at the invitation of the Emir of Kuwait—which is not part of the boycotting states and is mediating between the parties—U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to Kuwait on July 10 where he will meet with senior Kuwaiti officials to discuss ongoing efforts to resolve the Gulf dispute.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com