Washington - Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said in Washington today that his country is ready to negotiate, in good faith, but will not surrender its sovereignty.
Washington – Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said in Washington today that his country is ready to negotiate, in good faith, but will not surrender its sovereignty.
“The response of Qatar has been purposefully measured, yet unequivocal. We are willing to negotiate any legitimate grievances with our neighbours, but we will not compromise our sovereignty,” he said during a conference hosted by the Washington-based Arab Center.
Al-Thani praised Qatar’s “good record of combating and countering terrorism,” calling the “siege” on Qatar “a clear act of aggression” that violated international law.
The foreign minister admonished the blockade countries, reminding them that “the GCC is supposed to provide safety and stability in the region.” At the same time, he claimed “the US can verify that Qatar has not supported terrorism.”
Calling to mind comments made on Tuesday by Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Abdul al-Jubeir, regarding the “non-negotiable” nature of the blockade’s demands on Qater, Al-Thani said that “using terminologies of demands and non-negotiable, I don’t think this is a civilised way to engage in solving a crisis.”
Qatar Contemplates WTO complaint
Declaring its full intention of utilizing every tool at its disposal, Qatar is now indicating it may pursue a formal complaint against the blockade countries, led my Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Speaking from his Qatari WTO office, director Ali Alwaleed al-Thani, said: “we are exploring all possible avenues, including, but not limited to, the (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body.”
US: Gulf Crisis “an Opportunity”
In Washington on Wednesday to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, touted the crisis as a means to spread US influence in the Gulf region.
Saying that the crisis represents a timely opportunity to force Qatar to “quit funding Hamas … but at the same time, go back to Saudi Arabia and say look you can talk to them [the Qataris] … you got to cut this out, you’ve got to stop doing this,” Haley spoke of the rift, the worst Gulf crisis in years, as “an opportunity to sort of hit on both of them.”
UAE Prime Minister Published Poetic Appeal
In perhaps the most unusual appeal to reason yet, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) prime minister, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum took to his Instagram account with a poem he composed on the crisis, appealing to Qatar to “return to the GCC fold.”
“Now it is time to get united and be one heart and protect each other without grudges or hatred,” he wrote in Arabic.
The poem describes the UAE as its neighbours’ champion and stressed that both countries come “from one tribe and people … We will keep advising Qatar openly in line with the instructions of Prophet Muhammad, who said: A wolf eats only sheep that leave the flock.”
Japan Weighs In
During a telephone conversation held Thursday with Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, called the blockade’s list of 13 demands and the 10-day compliance period “harsh.”
The prime minister also declared his country’s official support for the Kuwait mediation process and that country’s commitment to a resolution.
Qatar has denounced the list of demands, which it received June 22 from the blockading countries, as unworkable. Citing Tillerson’s earlier urging that the demands be both “reasonable and actionable,” Qatar’s official response was to find them neither.
Included in the demands were the complete shutdown of state-funded network, Al Jazeera, a significant scaling down of Qatar’s relationship with Iran and the closure of a Turkish military base in the country.
The list of demands came weeks after six Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, announced they were severing all diplomatic ties with Qatar, alleging financial support for terrorist organizations and a relationship to Iran which they found too close for their comfort. The blockade followed this announcement almost immediately. The allegations have since been proven to be unfounded, prompting many to believe the reasons for the blockade to be more closely related to an intense dislike for Qatar’s foreign policy.