Sunday, 25 June 2017

Qatar's Neighbors Deliver List of Demands

"I can assure you that our situation today is very comfortable," Qatari Ambassador to the U.S. Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani said this week in response to a list of demands sent by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and other neighbors. "Qatar could continue forever like that with no problems."

The conflict started a couple of weeks ago. Unhappy with Qatar's continued relationships with Islamist groups (Qatar denies it funds terrorism, but admits it hosts Hamas and other groups, saying its important to foster good relations for dialogue to take place), its neighbors cut off ties. Qatar was getting a large percentage of its food from Saudi Arabia, and that suddenly ended. Qatar only has one land border (with Saudi Arabia), although it is across the water from Iran.

Since then, Qatar has obtained food from Turkey and elsewhere, ending the initial panic.

Qatar says they feel no pressure to resolve the crisis quickly. Qatar is a rich nation (highest per-capita income in the world), with wealth based on natural gas reserves. It also holds considerable sway in terms of information, as the state owns Al Jazeera news agency.

There may be a political consequence to the crisis though, Analysts say the political stability of the ruling al-Thani family could be threatened if the de facto blockade becomes prolonged.

This week, Kuwait (who is acting as a mediator for this Arab-state "family affair," as it is being framed) delivered a 13-point list of demands from Qatar's neighbors. The demands are not starting points, according to the neighbors, but are their bottom line.

The nations also said that there is no military component to their actions in the conflict.

Which countries are involved? The main 4 are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. Yemen and Maldives also joined the group.

Here are the most important of the demands, from a list obtained by AP News:

- Curb diplomatic ties with Iran, and limit trade and commerce
- Close Al Jazeera
- Stop funding other news outlets, including Arabi21, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye
- Hand over “terrorist figures” and wanted individuals from 4 countries
- Stop all means of funding for groups or people designated by foreign countries as terrorists, including Muslim Brotherhood
- Pay an unspecified sum in reparations
- Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain

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