After announcing late last night that they had received an official response from Qatar, the Saudi-led bloc of nations that cut ties to the natural-gas rich Gulf nation are meeting in Cairo on Wednesday to "deliver a verdict" on Doha's response to a stiff ultimatum, but settlement of the dispute seemed far off according to Reuters. Foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain will consider whether to escalate, or less likely abandon, the boycott imposed on Qatar last month that has rattled a key oil-producing region and unnerved strategic Western allies. Additional punitive measures may emerge from the meeting after the deadline for Qatari compliance with the bloc’s demands was extended by 48 hours on Monday. As a reminder, Qatar’s Arab neighbors cut off diplomatic and trade links with it last month, accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism, and issued a list of demands that includes shuttering the Qatari-funded news network Al Jazeera. Reuters adds that the editor of the Abu Dhabi government linked al-Ittihad newspaper wrote in an editorial that Qatar was "walking alone in its dreams and illusions, far away from its Gulf Arab brothers". "A Gulf national may be obliged to prepare psychologically for his Gulf to be without Qatar," the editor of the Abu Dhabi al-Ittihad newspaper said.
Qatar faces further isolation and possible expulsion from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) if its response to a list of demands made nearly two weeks ago is not deemed satisfactory.
Details of the Qatari response to the bloc’s 13 demands for ending the standoff haven’t been released. But German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who says he has been briefed on the Qatari reply, told Bloomberg Tuesday that Saudi Arabia and its allies aren’t likely to accept it. In fact, the standoff will probably intensify now that Saudi and UAE companies are divesting their supply chains from Qatar, according to Bloomberg.
# “The dispute may intensify as state-run companies get involved, said Allison Wood, a Middle East and North Africa analyst with Control Risks in Dubai.
It’s unlikely that we’re going to see anything that shows a compromise of any sort in light of the rhetoric coming from both sides,” Wood said. “We may see a lot of Emirati companies with government ownership seek to divest their supply chains from Qatar, and move to cut any economic ties as a first step.”
Qatar Petroleum said it is taking “legal actions” after Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. declared force majeure to halt shipments from Qatar of condensate, a light oil liquid. An official for the Abu Dhabi company, known as Adnoc, denied force majeure was invoked and said contracts with Qatar ended in June.”
Qatar has countered that the Arab countries want to curb free speech and take over its foreign policy, saying their 13 demands are so harsh they were made to be rejected. The gas-rich state had raised its international profile dramatically in recent years, drawing on huge gas revenues, and developed its economy with ambitious infrastructure projects. It is due to host the soccer world cup in 2022.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said at a joint news conference with his German counterpart on Tuesday that its response was "given in goodwill and good initiative for a constructive solution", but insisted that Doha would not compromise on its sovereignty. Gulf officials have said the demands are not negotiable, signaling more sanctions are possible, including "parting ways" with Doha, a suggestion it may be ejected from the GCC, a regional economic and security cooperation body founded in 1981.
Here’s a breakdown of the bloc’s demands:
*Qatar must reduce diplomatic representation with Iran
*Qatar must immoderately shut down the Turkish military base that is being established
*Qatar must announce severance of ties with terrorist, ideological & sectarian orgs: MB, ISIS, AQ, HTS, Hizbollah
*Qatar must cease any funding activities to extremist and terrorist individuals
*Qatar must hand over all designated terrorists
*Qatar must shut down Al Jazeera and all affiliated channels
*Qatar must stop interference in these countries' domestic and foreign affairs; stop naturalisation of their citizens; extradite such citizens
*Qatar must provide reparations to these countries for any opportunity costs incurred over the past few years because of Qatari policies. (How do they even begin to comply with this in 10 days?)
*Qatar must become in sync with its Gulf and Arab neighbourhood on all levels, and to activate Riyadh Agreement 2013/2014
*Qatar must provide all databases related to oppositionists that it provided support to & clarify what help was provided.
*Qatar must close all media outlets backed by it directly or indirectly, like Arabi21, Rasd, New Arab, Middle East Eye, Mkamlin, Sharq etc
We await the Gulf nations’ response. Until we hear from them, it’ll remain unclear whether this is the beginning of a negotiation, or whether the group will seek to achieve their goals in some other way, either through regime change in Qatar now that the Saudi alliance will have a "pretext" demonstrating Qatari non-compliance with a "goodwill" offer, or by trying to batter Qatar into further economic submission....