RIYADH • Saudi Arabia and its allies yesterday criticised Qatar's refusal to accept conditions to end the Gulf's biggest diplomatic crisis in years as a threat to regional security.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain said Qatar's rejection of a list of demands they set to lift sanctions on Doha "reflects its intention to continue its policy, aimed at destabilising security in the region", according to a statement on the official SPA news agency. "All political, economic and legal measures will be taken in the manner and at the time deemed appropriate to preserve the four countries' rights, security and stability," the statement added, without elaborating on the potential measures.
The four states last month announced the severing of all diplomatic ties with Qatar over allegations that the emirate bankrolled Islamist extremists and had close ties with Saudi Arabia's arch rival Iran. On June 22, they issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of broadcast giant Al Jazeera, as a prerequisite to lift the sanctions, which include the closure of Qatar's only land border and suspension of all flights to and from the country.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said they had received Qatar's rejection of their demands, raising fears of escalation in the volatile region.
Saudi Arabia and its allies now consider the demands, sent via mediator Kuwait, "null and void" as the Qatari government had "thwarted all diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis", according to yesterday's statement.
Credit ratings agency Moody's has announced it was changing the emirate's outlook to negative from stable over the crisis.
The United States is increasingly concerned that the dispute could drag on for a long time or intensify, the US State Department said.
Underscoring US concerns, the department said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to visit Kuwait, which is mediating in the dispute, on Monday.
In the latest top-level US contact with officials of the countries involved in the dispute, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis discussed the importance of easing tensions in a phone call with Qatari Minister of State for Defence Affairs Khalid al-Attiyah on Thursday.
Mr Mattis discussed the state of relations among Gulf Arab states and "the importance of de-escalating tensions" in his call with Mr Attiyah, the Pentagon said in a statement.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS