WASHINGTON: Faced with a sweeping set of demands, Qatar insisted on Friday it can indefinitely survive the economic and diplomatic steps its neighbours have taken to try to pressure it into compliance, even as a top Emirati official warned the tiny country to brace for a long-term economic squeeze.
Given 10 days to make a decision, Qatar said it was reviewing the specific concessions demanded of the tiny Persian Gulf nation, which include shuttering Al-Jazeera and cutting ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. But Qatari officials didn’t budge from their previous insistence that they won’t sit down with Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations to negotiate an end to the crisis while under siege.
“I can assure you that our situation today is very comfortable,” Qatari ambassador to the US Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani said. “Qatar could continue forever like that with no problems.”
Asked whether Qatar felt pressure to resolve the crisis quickly, he said: “Not at all.”
As the US stepped back from any central mediating role, all sides seemed to be settling in for a potentially protracted crisis. Qatar’s neighbours insisted their 13-point list of demands was their bottom line, not a starting point for negotiations.
If Qatar refuses to comply by the deadline, the Arab countries signalled, they’ll continue to restrict its access to land, sea and air routes indefinitely, as economic pressure mounts on Qatar.
“This reflects basically an attempt from these countries to suppress free media and also undermine our sovereignty,” said Al Thani. “They are trying to impose their views on how the issues need to be dealt with in the Middle East.”
“They are bullies,” he added.