- Emirate prepares for sanctions and signals rejection of Gulf nations’ demands to lift blockade, which include closing al-Jazeera
Qatar has accused Saudi Arabia and its regional allies of attempting to force it to surrender its sovereignty as it gave the strongest signal yet that it has rejected the 13 demands to lift the blockade imposed last month.
The Qatari foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, on Tuesday described the blockade as “unprovoked, unjustified and unwarranted” as the deadline to comply passed. He said his country would not accept any proposals that breach international law or interfere with its sovereignty.
Thani said Saudi Arabia and its regional allies – Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates – were “demanding that we must surrender our sovereignty as the price for ending the siege”.
The demands include Doha ending support for the Muslim Brotherhood and closing broadcaster al-Jazeera.
The four states met in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss their next steps. The Saudi foreign ministry, which confirmed it had received Qatar’s response, said it would respond “at the right time”.
Thani, speaking at Chatham House in London, said his country had already made preparations for extensive sanctions .
He also said the other Gulf states had no powers to eject Qatar from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, arguing decisions can only be taken by consensus, implying Kuwait and Oman would not endorse the punishment.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain have tried to isolate Qatar politically, diplomatically and economically, claiming Qatar has been interfering in their internal affairs and funding terrorism.
Thani said that as soon as the demands were released a fortnight ago, it was apparent they were not reasonable or actionable, adding the blockade was “extraordinary, unprovoked and hostile”.
“We believe that this entire campaign is merely driven by Saudi Arabia and the
United Arab Emirates and these are the countries that we need to engage to find out what are the real problems and what are the real grievances.”