If Qatar wants to end a recent diplomatic standoff, all it needs to do is comply with 13 demands. That, at least, is according to the four Arab neighbors — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — that drew up the list and sent it via Kuwaiti mediators on Friday.
The four countries say Qatar must shut down its Doha-based news network Al-Jazeera and its affiliates, sever ties with “terrorist organizations” such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah, and immediately close Turkey’s military base outside the Qatari capital. Those demands top a list that also includes broader conditions such as reparations payments and closer alignment with the Sunni Arab countries in the Persian Gulf.
Qatar has 10 days to comply. What would happen after that is unclear.
For much of the month, most major trade routes into Qatar have been closed by its neighbors. This includes Saudi Arabia, which occupies the peninsula nation’s only overland border, through which it receives roughly 40 percent of its imports. Yet NPR’s Peter Kenyon reports that “the impact has been blunted somewhat as Iran and Turkey stepped in to send food and other supplies to Qatar.”
Peter notes that these relationships with Iran and Turkey, which have gained strength as Qatar has sought help, might be a sign that the diplomatic pressure could backfire. Even as Qatar’s neighbors try to get it to sever ties with these countries, some experts believe the sanctions might actually encourage those relations.
Qatar’s government, for its part, is denying the allegations that it funds and harbors terrorists. And it has vowed to reject any demands as long as its neighbors maintain their sanctions.
“It does seem as if this is Saudi Arabia bullying its tiny neighbor and ganging up on it,” analyst Greg Barton of Australia’s Deakin University told Turkey’s state-funded TRT World. Peter says that Barton sees this list of demands as a kind of opening offer.
“So,” Barton told TRT World, “it needs to find a way of working with Kuwait and other intermediary powers to find some compromise.”
For now the U.S., a major partner of Saudi Arabia, has sent some mixed messages on the diplomatic crisis. Most recently, The Associated Press reports, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had been frustrated at perceived delays in formulating the list of demands — but the wire service notes the U.S. official also warned the demands should be “reasonable and actionable.”