Al-Jazeera Slams Saudi Demand to Shut Them Down

Marie Harrington
June 26, 2017

The UAE state minister for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, warned on Friday that Qatar should "deal seriously" with the 13 points or face "divorce" from its neighbours. Among them are - lowering the diplomatic relations with Iran, closing down the Al-Jazeera television channel, stopping military cooperation with Turkey and closing of the Turkish military base in the country.

The demands, presented to Qatar through mediators from Kuwait, called on the country to shut down a Turkish military base and downgrade its ties with Iran - a hard task given that Iran and Qatar share a large gas field that provides much of Qatar's wealth.

Qatar has also been asked to hand over opposition figures wanted by its three neighbours, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, downgrade diplomatic ties with Iran and shut a Turkish military base in the emirate.

Turkey, whose President Tayyip Erdogan has his roots in an Islamist political party, and Qatar have been the main backers of the Muslim Brotherhood movement that challenges Arab rulers.

"The four states can afford to wait, but Qatar cannot", said Fawaz Gerges, a Middle East expert at the London School of Economics.

The U.S. issued that litmus test amid frustration at how long it was taking Saudi Arabia and others to formalize a list of demands, complicating U.S. efforts to bring about a resolution to the worst Gulf diplomatic crisis in years.

It is not clear if the list of demands, submitted on Thursday, is a starting point for talks or if they are non-negotiable, but Qatar was given 10 days to respond.

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Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged the blockading nations to clarify their allegations against Qatar, saying their demands must be "reasonable and actionable". "There are no IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) elements in Qatar and the agreement with Turkey is a long-standing diplomatic agreement so we can not ask them to leave".

One twitter user tweeted this before the demands actually came out, giving a long list that seemed more like your Sunday morning grocery shopping list than something that is a part of negotiations between two countries.

CNN's Erin Burnett obtained the list, which Qatari officials said is authentic.

The list also demands that Qatar pay reparations to the four countries for damages or costs incurred because of Qatari policies. Should Qatar agree to the deal, Gargash called for US and European Union involvement in monitoring its compliance.

"Qatar may not fully comply with the list, but it has to take these demands into consideration and finally make a move towards reviewing its foreign policy and the editorial line of the main media outlet, Al-Jazeera", Dr Nader said. The Al-Jazeera network it hosts has provided exposure for groups ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood to al-Qaida, and is seen by its critics as a mouthpiece for extremist ideology.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar this month alleging that the country funds terrorism an accusation that Qatar denies.

But the ultimatum was quickly rejected by Qatar's ally, Turkey, and blasted as an assault on free speech by Al-Jazeera, the Qatari broadcaster that the gas-rich country's neighbors are demanding be shut down.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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