Saudi-led bloc lists demands to resolve Qatar crisis

A Qatari official checking a Saudi citizen's vehicle at a border crossing with Saudi Arabia yesterday. A Saudi alliance has severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar.
A Qatari official checking a Saudi citizen's vehicle at a border crossing with Saudi Arabia yesterday. A Saudi alliance has severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

They include shutting Al-Jazeera network and ending Turkey's military presence in Qatar

DUBAI • Saudi Arabia and its allies have presented Qatar with a list of steep demands to end the crisis that has roiled the Gulf for almost three weeks, as diplomats predicted that the tiny Gulf state would likely refuse to comply.

The 13 requirements include shutting the Al-Jazeera network, cutting back diplomatic ties with Iran, severing relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and ending Turkey's military presence in Qatar, according to two Western diplomats in the region familiar with the list who asked not to be named as they are not authorised to speak publicly.

Kuwait, which is mediating the dispute, handed the list to the Qatari government, they said.

Pressure had been mounting on the Saudi-led bloc, which includes Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, to finalise what it wants from Qatar to end the crisis, and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday that he hoped the demands "will be reasonable and actionable".

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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.

"The demands are severe and show resolve and determination when it comes to what is at stake," said Dr Sami Nader, head of the Beirut-based Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs. "This is a bargaining position to start talks. That is why they upped the stakes."

The UAE yesterday advised Qatar to take the demands seriously or else the Gulf crisis would turn into a "divorce" with Qatar. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash also accused Qatar of leaking the list of demands, which was first reported by Associated Press.

  • List of demands

  • • Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close Qatar's diplomatic missions there. Cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran. Only trade and commerce with Iran that comply with United States and international sanctions will be permitted.

    • Sever all ties to terrorist organisations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Hizbollah. Formally declare these entities as terrorist groups.

    • Shut down Al-Jazeera and its affiliate stations.

    • Shut down news outlets funded by Qatar.

    • Immediately terminate Turkish military presence in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside Qatar.

    • Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists.

    • Hand over terrorist figures and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin.

    • End interference in sovereign countries' internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.

    • Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar's prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.

    • 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 itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.

    • Agree to all the demands within 10 days of them being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid.

    • Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.

"The leak is an attempt to abort the mediation in a childish act that we have grown accustomed to from our brother," Mr Gargash wrote on Twitter. "It would be wiser that (Qatar) deal seriously with the demands and concerns of the neighbours, or a divorce will take place."

The Saudi alliance severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

The move split families apart, disrupted trade and threatens to alter longstanding geopolitical alliances. Qatar, which views the action as an illegal siege, has denied the charges.

Its foreign minister said on Monday that his country would not bargain away what it sees as its sovereign rights, and called on the Saudi alliance to conduct negotiations in a "civilised way" after first lifting the blockade.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said Qataris were uni- ted behind their Emir, adding that Al-Jazeera and foreign policy were internal affairs not open to negotiation.

Qatar's gas wealth enabled it to develop foreign policies that came to irritate its neighbours. It backed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and armed factions opposed by the UAE or Saudi Arabia in Libya and Syria.

Gas also paid for Al-Jazeera, which has at various times embarrassed or angered most Middle Eastern governments.

"Qatar may not fully comply with the list, but it has to take these demands into consideration and finally make a move towards reviewing its foreign policy and the editorial line of the main media outlet, Al-Jazeera," Dr Nader said.

The list of demands emerged just over a day after Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has led the effort to isolate Qatar, was named as heir to throne.

The move suggests a harder foreign policy line for the key US ally in a region fraught with instability.

BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2017, with the headline 'Saudi-led bloc lists demands to resolve Qatar crisis'. Print Edition | Subscribe