Will Qatar agree to Arab countries’ new list of demands? Unlikely
Documents obtained by the Associated Press suggest Qatar has 10 days to comply with all demands.
Four Arab countries locked in a blockade of Qatar since June 5 have issued a list of 13 demands posted online by Doha-based Al Jazeera that the Persian Gulf nation is unlikely to accept:
1) Scale back diplomatic ties with Iran; close Iranian diplomatic missions in Qatar; expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard; cut military and intelligence cooperation with Iran. Trade and commerce with Iran must meet U.S. and international sanctions and not jeopardize security of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
2) Immediately shut down the Turkish military base being built in Qatar and halt military cooperation with Turkey in Qatar. (Turkey rejected this on Friday, saying it has no plans to go along with this demand).
3) Sever ties to all “terrorist, sectarian and ideological organizations,” including the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, Al Qaeda, Fateh Al-Sham (formerly known as Nusra Front) and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare them terrorist groups based on the terror list created by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt, and agree to recognize all future updates of that list.
4) Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organizations designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the U.S. and other countries.
5) Hand over “terrorist figures,” fugitives and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets and provide information about their residency, movements and finances.
6) Shut down Al Jazeera Network and affiliated stations.
7) End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship where it violates those countries’ laws.
8) Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other financial losses caused by Qatar’s recent policies. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.
9) Qatar must align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.
10) Submit all personal details of all the opposition members that Qatar supported and detail all support that Qatar has provided them in the past. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s contacts with and support for opposition groups.
11) Shut down all news outlets that it funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al Jadeed, Mekameleen and Middle East Eye, etc.
12) Agree to all demands within 10 days, or the list becomes invalid.
13) Consent to monthly compliance audits for the first year; once per quarter during the second year; annually for the following decade.
Qatar has 10 days to comply, but is not expected to agree, likely prolonging the Gulf’s worst diplomatic crisis in recent memory.
“It is a matter of national sovereignty. Anything that is presented to the Qataris which it considers to be interference in its internal affairs is going to be dismissed,” Al Jazeera correspondent Hashem Ahelbarra reported, insisting the list is “definitely going to be rejected by Qatar.”
“There will be further escalation, mounting tension because of these demands,” he told Al Jazeera once the news network posted the 13-point list online Friday after it was presented to Qatari officials by counterparts in Kuwait mediating the crisis.
Qatar’s allies were also quick to dismiss the demands.
Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Isik told broadcaster NTV his country had no plans to review the military base in Qatar, which “is both a Turkish base and one that will preserve the security of Qatar and the region.”
The crisis began June 5 when Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates jointly severed ties, alleging Qatar funds terrorism. Qatar denied funding or supporting extremism, although officials have acknowledged admitting members of some extremist groups such as Hamas to allow for negotiations.
Qatar is a valuable U.S. ally in the region in part because it has played that role as intermediary. It’s also home to a strategically significant U.S. air base that houses 10,000 American troops outside Doha. U.S. officials have urged the countries to reach an agreement in the interest of regional security, but President Donald Trump has cheered the blockade.
“We cannot let these incredibly rich nations fund radical Islamic terror or terrorism of any kind,” he said at a rally in Iowa last week, noting that after his visit to Riyadh last month to meet with Saudi King Salman and urge an end to terror funding, “He has taken it to heart. And now they’re fighting with other countries that have been funding terrorism. And I think we had a huge impact.”
But on Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – who has urged the countries to unite and focus on fighting Islamic State — warned any list of demands for Qatar must be “reasonable and actionable.”
Instead, the list appears fanciful, with few terms Qatari officials are likely to accept.
Qatar’s foreign minister told The Times earlier this week during an interview in Doha that his government won’t even negotiate with the Arab nations until they lift their blockade, which they see as a violation of their sovereignty.
“They haven’t provided any proof,” of the allegations against Qatar, said Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Thani. “No one has talked to us except the Kuwaitis. They just throw their allegations in the media.”
The Arab nations released a list after the blockade of 59 people and a dozen groups they alleged were extremists with ties to Qatar. But the foreign minister said the list was inaccurate, that it included legitimate charities, groups Qatar had sanctioned, extremists who had died or were no longer living in the country.
The new list of demands includes the requirement that Qatar refuse to naturalize citizens from the four countries involved in the blockade and expel those currently in Qatar. All of the countries except Egypt required their citizens to return within two weeks of the blockade. Earlier this week, Bahrain invalidated the passports of those who stayed in Qatar.
The foreign minister said Qatari officials were still trying to find a legal solution for foreign nationals from the blockade countries who chose to stay, but insisted, “We will not make anyone leave the country.”
The list specifies that Qatar turn over to the four countries individuals wanted for terrorism; stop funding groups designated as terrorist by the U.S. and provide information about those Qatar has funded.
The list also demands Qatar align itself economically and politically with the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional alliance seeking to curb Iran’s influence; shut diplomatic posts in Iran, expel members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, and only conduct trade with Iran according to U.S. sanctions.
Qatar shares a massive, lucrative offshore natural gas field with Iran and severing ties would be both financially painful and difficult.
Even if Qatar agreed to the list, it would also have to agree to be audited for compliance once a month for the first year; once per quarter the second year, then annually for the following decade.
Sheikh Saif al-Thani, a Qatari government spokesman, said the list of demands “confirms what Qatar has said from the beginning — the illegal blockade has nothing to do with combating terrorism, it is about limiting Qatar’s sovereignty, and outsourcing our foreign policy.”
“We are reviewing these demands out of respect for our brothers in Kuwait and the regional security,” he said, but indicated approval was unlikely.
“The U.S. secretary of state recently called upon the blockading nations to produce a list of grievances that was ‘reasonable and actionable.’ The British foreign secretary asked that the demands be ‘measured and realistic.’ This list does not satisfy that criteria.”
June 24: This article was updated with reaction from a Qatari government spokesman.
This article was originally published on June 23, 2017, at 7:10 a.m.
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