10DAY DEADLINE Call for shutting Turkey military base in Doha, cutting links to Muslim Brotherhood
DUBAI: Four Arab states that imposed a boycott on Qatar have issued an ultimatum to Doha to close Al Jazeera television, curb ties with Iran, shut a Turkish base and pay reparations, demands so far reaching it would appear to be hard for Doha to comply.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have sent a 13-point list of demands apparently aimed at dismantling their tiny but wealthy neighbour’s two decadeoldinterventionistforeignpolicy which has incensed them.
Qatar did not immediately comment, but Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani had said on Monday Qatar would not negotiate with the four states until economic, diplomatic and travel ties cut this month were restored.
An official from one of the four nations, who gave details of the demands on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the offer would be “void” unless Qatar complied within 10 days.
The UAE has said sanctions could last for years. Qatar, the world’s richest country per capita, says the sanctions amount to a “blockade”, but it has ample reserves to weather the storm.
The dispute is a big test for the United States, which houses the headquarters of its Middle East air power and 11,000 troops at a large base in Qatar.
President Donald Trump has backed the sanctions, even as his defence and state departments have tried to remain neutral, resulting in mixed signals. Trump called Qatar a “funder of terrorism at a very high level”, only for his Pentagon to approve selling it $12 billion of warplanes five days later.
The most powerful country in the region to back the Qatari side in the dispute has been Turkey, whose President Tayyip Erdogan has his roots in an Islamist political party similar to movements that Qatar has backed in the region. Days after the sanctions were imposed, Turkey rushed through legislation to send more troops to its base in Qatar as a sign of support.
Defence Minister Fikri Isik rejected the demand to close the base, saying it would represent interference in Ankara’s relations with Doha. Turkey might bolster its presence instead.
“Strengthening the Turkish base would be a positive step in terms of the Gulf’s security,” he said. “Re-evaluating the base agreement with Qatar is not on our agenda.”
The demands, handed to Qatar by mediator Kuwait, tell Qatar to stop interfering in the four nations’ domestic and foreign affairs and refrain from giving Qatari nationality to their citizens, the official from one of the sanctioning states said.
They also include severing ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Jabhat Fateh al Sham, formerly al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, and the surrender of all designated terrorists on Qatari territory. Qatar denies it has relationships with terrorist groups or shelters terrorists.
It was ordered to scale down diplomatic relations with Iran and limit their commercial ties.