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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, May 28, 2018

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After Qatar rejects ultimatum set out by its Middle East neighbors, restrictions set to continue

Boycott will continue until Qatar changes its policies

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CAIRO, Egypt - The foreign ministers of four Arab countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the U.A.E., that severed ties with Qatar last month, concluded their meeting in Cairo on Wednesday. 

The nations decided to continue with the restrictions that were placed on Qatar after the country was accused of supporting jihadi groups.

Saudi Arabia said in a joint statement after the meeting that the decision came after Qatar rejected the ultimatum made by its neighbours and the foreign ministers said they regretted Qatar's "negative" response to their list of 13 demands.

Reading out the joint statement, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said, "The response the four states got was overall negative and lacked any content. We find it did not provide a basis for Qatar to retreat from its policies.”

The diplomats said on Wednesday that Qatar lacked "understanding of the seriousness and gravity of the situation.”

Further, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said, “The political and economic boycott will continue until Qatar changes its policies for the better.”

He added that any further steps taken against Qatar would be "taken at the appropriate time" and claimed they would be "in line with international law.”

Shoukry added that the four Arab states "hope wisdom prevails and Qatar makes the right decision."

Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir added, “We're not doing this because we want to hurt Qatar, we're doing this to help Qatar.”

The meeting came as a two-day extension to an initial 10-day deadline for Qatar to accept the list of demands or face further sanctions expired.

Doha, that submitted its response on Wednesday via Kuwait that is acting as a mediator in the crisis, called the demands from its neighbours “legitimate.”

Before the four ministers released their statement, the Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani issued a statement in London, describing the cutting of ties with his country as "a siege that is a clear aggression and an insult.”

He added, “The answer to our disagreement is not blockades and ultimatums, it is dialogue and reason.”

The four Arab nations called for major changes in its policies and tabled a set to demands after the feud erupted.

The four anti-Qatar states severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, closed their airspace to its jets and announced an economic blockade that included the closing of Qatar’s border with Saudi Arabia, which was its sole land link to the rest of the world and a key route for food imports.

As part of their demands, the four nations called for shutting down the Doha-funded television network Al Jazeera news network, closing a Turkish military base and ending relations with Iran. 

The four nations also called for the expulsion of named terrorists from Qatar, and an end to support of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. 

They also want international monitoring to end the funding of terrorists, as well as compensation reaching into billions of dollars for Qatar’s alleged support for dissent inside their regimes.

Qatar would also be required to shut a large number of news websites that the anti-Qatar nations see as supporting their opponents.

Qatar, that has denied all the allegations, was given 10 days to meet all the demands and the country’s foreign minister said on Saturday that the Arab ultimatum was aimed not at tackling terrorism but at curtailing his country’s sovereignty.

With all sides refusing to back down, it is feared a compromise could still be elusive.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, credit ratings agency Moody’s downgraded Qatar’s economic outlook to negative as the diplomatic dispute continued to have economic effects.

In a statement, the agency said, “The likelihood of a prolonged period of uncertainty extending into 2018 has increased and a quick resolution of the dispute is unlikely over the next few months.”

 

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