Saudi-led Bloc Issues Terror List in Dispute With Qatar

  • List includes Qatar Charity, Egyptian-born cleric al-Qaradawi
  • Qatar says accusations are ‘baseless,’ list is ‘questionable’

Saudi Arabia and allies published a list of individuals and organizations they say are involved in terrorism and mostly linked to Qatar, the Gulf nation coming under growing pressure from its neighbors.

The list, endorsed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, includes 12 entities and 59 individuals, according to a joint statement sent by email early Friday. The list includes individuals from those countries as well as Qatar and Libya, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported, including Yusuf al-Qaradawi -- an Egyptian-born cleric linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, who has ties with Qatari royals.

The Saudi-led bloc this week cut diplomatic relations and transport links with Qatar, saying the country must distance itself from Iran and stop funding Islamist groups. Qatar denies such charges and says the Saudis are seeking to dominate smaller neighbors.

“We will not react to these accusations that are baseless,” Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Al Thani said at a press conference with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel in Wolfenbuettel, Germany on Friday. “Some of the listed people are residents in the countries that listed them -- this is questionable.”

Several charity organizations including Qatar Voluntary Center, Qatar Charity and Eid Charity were listed, SPA said, as well as the Resistance Brigades and Bahraini Hezbollah in Bahrain, and the Benghazi Defense Brigades in Libya. Both Libya and Bahrain accuse Qatar of funding extremist groups on their soil. It also blacklisted some individuals sanctioned by the U.S. over links to al-Qaeda in 2011.

Reputable

Al Thani said there are charitable organizations on the list regarded as reputable by United Nations agencies, without giving details.

Releasing the list gives Qatar a chance to change its policies, U.A.E. Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash said on Twitter. “It’s an opportunity to change the direction away from arrogance and escalation.”

The solution to the crisis lies in diplomacy, rather than Qatar relying on Iran and Turkey, he said.

Since the dispute began, Turkey has accelerated pre-existing plans to deploy some troops to Qatar, while Iran offered alternative transport routes and supplies of staple goods that can no longer be imported from Saudi Arabia.

All the countries involved are U.S. allies, and Qatar hosts one of the biggest American military bases overseas. President Donald Trump on Thursday offered the services of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as a mediator, while Kuwait, another member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, has also been involved in efforts to find a diplomatic solution.

The crisis has hit Qatar, which has a population lower than Houston’s, at a time when its economy was starting to face some headwinds amid the drop in global commodity prices. S&P Global Ratings this week lowered Qatar’s long-term rating by one level to AA-, the fourth-highest investment grade, and put it on negative watch on concern the dispute will weaken its finances.

The Gulf nation is the world’s No. 1 exporter of liquefied natural gas. Its $335 billion sovereign wealth fund owns stakes in global companies from Volkswagen to Barclays.

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