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Arab Nations Demand Qatar Shut Down Al Jazeera

26 June 2017

The four countries opposing Qatar are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs talks to the media during a press conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, June 24, 2017. Altogether, there is a list of 13 wide-ranging demands, including calls for it to expel Turkish military forces from its territory and sever all connections with the Muslim Brotherhood.

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.

On Friday, Saudi Arabia put out a 13-point list of demands which Qatar needed to fulfill if it desired to have the blockade imposed on it by its Gulf neighbours lifted.

Qatar's Human Rights Committee said the demands represented "gross violations" of basic rights.

Saudi Arabia demanded Qatar change its policy, in order to adjust Al Jazeera's broadcasting to the interests of the Gulf States.

An optimist might hope the other Sunni states have seen the error of their ways and intend to clean up their acts after reaching an agreement with Qatar, but that degree of optimism is hard to come by in the Middle East.

The ultimatum was quickly rejected by Qatar's ally, Turkey, and blasted as an assault on free speech by Al Jazeera, the Qatari broadcaster.

Al-Jazeera, whose editorial has for many years been critical of several Middle East governments, on Saturday hit back at the closure demand, accusing Qatar's neighbors of attempting to "silence freedom of expression".

As well as cutting diplomatic ties, Qatar's neighbours closed their air space to Qatari carriers and blocked the emirate's only land border, vital for its food imports.

The point of putting forward that list of demands, the analyst says, is "to empty the hands of Qatar from the merits and winning aces that it had, or that made it a heavyweight".

The punitive measures against Qatar have drawn condemnation from rights groups, including Amnesty International, which says the diplomatic dispute has been toying with thousands of lives.

The four countries cut ties with Qatar earlier this month over allegations that it funds terrorism - an accusation President Donald Trump has echoed. Qatar denies it has relationships with terrorist groups or shelters terrorists.

Besides, Qatar must shut down diplomatic posts in Iran, expel any members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, and only conduct trade and commerce with Iran that complies with U.S. sanctions.

"The UK calls upon the Gulf states to find a way of deescalating the situation and lifting the current embargo and restrictions which are having an impact on the everyday lives of people in the region", said Johnson.

The demands call on Qatar to end its alleged support for organisations including Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Islamic State.

Tillerson has sought to mediate but the White House has been more hands-off, describing the diplomatic crisis as a "family issue" on Friday.

The document did not specify what the countries will do if Qatar refuses to comply. Compliance with the demands would be monitored, with monthly reports in the first year, then every three months the next year, then annually for 10 years, the official said.

Arab Nations Demand Qatar Shut Down Al Jazeera