Qatar Crisis: Al jazeera, Iran, Turkey, others among 13 Demands to lift their Sanctions

Qatar Broadcaster, Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera Headquarters in Doha, Qatar

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are asking the Gulf state to shut down its broadcaster, Al Jazeera.

According to BBC, they are also asking Qatar to reduce ties with Iran and close a Turkish military base – all within 10 days.

Qatar, which sought to raise its profile in recent years, denies funding terrorism and fostering instability.

It has been subjected to more than two weeks of unprecedented diplomatic and economic sanctions, in the worst political crisis among Gulf countries in decades.

There was no immediate response from Qatar but Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said earlier that it would not negotiate until the punitive measures were lifted.

He also denied his country supported “any terrorist organisation”.

According to the Associated Press news agency, which obtained a copy of the list, Qatar must also:

  • Sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in other Arab states
  • Refuse to naturalise citizens from the four countries and expel those currently on its territory, in what the countries describe as an effort to keep Qatar from meddling in their internal affairs
  • Hand over all individuals who are wanted by the four countries for terrorism
  • Stop funding any extremist entities that are designated as terrorist groups by the US
  • Provide detailed information about opposition figures whom Qatar has funded, ostensibly in Saudi Arabia and the other nations
  • Align itself politically, economically and otherwise with the Gulf Co-operation Council
  • Stop funding other news outlets in addition to Al Jazeera, including Arabi21 and Middle East Eye
  • Pay an unspecified sum in compensation

An unnamed official from one of the four countries told Reuters news agency that Qatar was also being asked to sever links with so-called Islamic State, al-Qaeda and Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah.

According to the document seen by AP, Qatar is being asked to shut down diplomatic posts in Iran, expel any members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard and only conduct trade with Iran that complies with US sanctions.

The document specifies that both Al Jazeera and all of its affiliates must be shut down. Al Jazeera, which has an English-language branch, is one of the most widely watched Arabic satellite channels.

Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia’s close ally, Egypt, have long accused the broadcaster of providing a platform for Islamist movements and encouraging dissent – claims the broadcaster has denied.

Speaking to the BBC World Service, Jamal Al Shayyal, a senior journalist and spokesman for the award-winning network, said: “The fact that the claims are being levelled by countries who are directly involved either in the creation or funding of [extremist] organisations is beyond ironic.

“Nobody has shown any evidence of any misdoing by our network that would amount to such a ridiculous accusation.”

He said staff would be continuing to work as normal to defend press freedoms and “speak truth to power”.

If ten days pass and Qatar has failed to comply, the list becomes “void”, the Reuters source said, without elaborating.

It would appear that at least some of the demands are unacceptable to Qatar.

Foreign Minister Thani said this week his country would not accept any “foreign dictations” and “rejected discussing any matter related to the Al Jazeera channel as it considered it an internal affair”.

AFP reports that, The UAE on Friday advised Qatar to take a list of stern demands drawn up by its neighbours seriously or the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf would turn into a “divorce” with Doha.

Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates state minister for foreign affairs, issued the warning more than two weeks into the oil-rich region’s worst diplomatic crisis in years.

He also accused Qatar of leaking a document containing the demands by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, which have cut diplomatic ties with the gas-rich state accusing it of sponsoring terrorism.

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