Anti-Qatar alliance issues 13-point list of 'far-reaching' demands to end crisis

Anti-Qatar alliance issues 13-point list of 'far-reaching' demands to end crisis
Saudi Arabia and allies boycotting Qatar have issued a list of demands that includes shutting down the Doha-based al Jazeera channel and cutting diplomatic ties to Iran.
5 min read
23 June, 2017
The list of demands includes shutting down al Jazeera channel [AFP]
Kuwait has given Qatar a list of demands from Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations that includes shutting down the Doha-based al Jazeera channel and the London-based The New Arab, alongside cutting diplomatic ties with Iran.

According to a 13-point list obtained by The Associated Press from one of the countries involved in the dispute, Qatar has 10 days to comply with all demands.

The list says Doha must immediately close Turkey's military base in Qatar and end military cooperation with the NATO member. It also demands an unspecified sum of compensation from Qatar.

Some of the conditions on the list had already been rejected by the gas-rich nation, which has insisted it would not negotiate until the Arab nations lifted their blockade.

Two weeks ago, Riyadh and several of its allies including Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, cut ties with Qatar over accusations that Doha supports extremist groups – a claim Qatar vehemently denies.

In addition to diplomatic isolation, other measures taken included closing Qatar's only land border, banning its planes from using their airspace and barring Qatari nationals from transiting through their airports – a move Doha described as an illegal and unjust blockade.

Kuwait has been leading mediation efforts between Qatar and the boycotting countries, while the US has been urging them to produce a list of demands.

On Thursday, the US said it hoped the anti-Qatar alliance would soon reveal a list of "reasonable" grievances to officials in Doha.

"We understand a list of demands has been prepared and coordinated by the Saudis, Emiratis, Egyptians and Bahrainis," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

"We hope the list ... will soon be presented to Qatar and will be reasonable and actionable."

On Tuesday, Tillerson's spokesperson Heather Nauert said the US was "mystified" that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have failed to present details justifying their embargo on Qatar.

"The more that time goes by, the more doubt is raised about the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and the UAE," Nauert said.

Editorial comment: Our Saudi-UAE ban is a badge of honour

Far-reaching requirements

The demands are likely to elicit Qatari objections that its neighbours are trying to dictate its sovereign affairs by imposing such far-reaching requirements.

According to the list, Qatar must refuse to naturalise citizens from the four countries and expel those currently in Qatar, in what the countries describe as an effort to keep Qatar from meddling in their internal affairs.

They are also demanding that Qatar hand over all individuals who are wanted by those four countries for terrorism; stop funding any extremist entities that are designated as terrorist groups by the US; and provide detailed information about opposition figures that Qatar has funded, ostensibly in Saudi Arabia and the other nations.

More broadly, the list demands that Qatar align itself politically, economically and otherwise with the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional club that has focused on countering the influence of Iran.

The Iran provisions in the document say Qatar must shut down diplomatic posts in Iran, kick out any members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard from Qatar and only conduct trade and commerce with Iran that complies with US sanctions. Under the 2015 nuclear deal, nuclear-related sanctions on Iran were eased but other sanctions remain in place.

Cutting ties to Iran would prove incredibly difficult. Qatar shares a massive offshore natural gas field with Iran which supplies the small nation that will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup its wealth.

Independent media

Not only must Qatar shut down the Doha-based satellite broadcaster, the list says, but also all of its affiliates. That presumably would mean Qatar would have to close down al Jazeera's English-language sister network.

Supported by Qatar's government, al Jazeera is one of the most widely watched Arabic channels, but it has long drawn the ire of Middle East governments for airing alternative viewpoints.

The network's critics say it advances Qatar's goals by promoting Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood that pose a populist threat to rulers in other Arab countries.

Qatar has previously said it would not negotiate sovereign and internal matters, including al Jazeera, under pressure from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Speaking to Russia's RT Arabic earlier this month, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani said Qatar will only negotiate matters related to 'GCC collective security', and said his government still had hopes for the Kuwaiti efforts to contain the crisis.

"[On] decisions that affect Qatari sovereignty and foreign policy outside the collective security of the GCC, we do not accept any dictates and we will not negotiate about them" or even discuss them, he said in response to a question about the fate of al Jazeera.

The list also demands that Qatar stop funding a host of other news outlets including Arabi21, The New Arab and Middle East Eye.

"When regimes with the stellar human rights record and clear moral authority of Saudi Arabia and the UAE want you shut down, you know you're doing something right," said James Brownsell, managing editor of The New Arab.

A spokesman for Middle East Eye has meanwhile insisted that it is not funded by Qatar.

If Qatar agrees to comply, the list asserts that it will be audited once a month for the first year, and then once per quarter in the second year after it takes effect. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.

Agencies contributed to this report