Saudi-Led Bloc Seeks Diplomatic Fix to Impasse With Qatar

  • U.A.E.’s Gargash says there is no ‘intention of escalation’
  • Saudi-Led allies not seeking regime change inside Qatar

Saudi Arabia and its allies want to resolve their standoff with Qatar through diplomacy and don’t seek regime change, U.A.E. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said at a press conference in Dubai.

“There is no intention for any sort of escalation,” Gargash said Saturday when asked about military intervention against Qatar if negotiations fail to end the impasse. “This is not about regime change, this is about behavioral change.” 

The Saudi-led bloc presented Qatar with a list of steep demands to end the crisis that has roiled the Gulf Cooperation Council. The 13 requirements include shutting the Al-Jazeera TV network, cutting back diplomatic ties with Iran, severing relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and ending Turkey’s military presence in Qatar, according to a Gulf official who confirmed the veracity of the document, asking not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter. 

Qatar has 10 days to respond to list, which it received from the crisis mediator, Kuwait, said the Gulf official. Sheikh Saif Al Thani, director of Qatar’s government communications office, expressed doubt about reaching an agreement, saying the demands don’t meet the criteria set out by the U.S. and U.K. governments for “reasonable and realistic” measures. 

“This list of demands confirms what Qatar has said from the beginning -- the illegal blockade has nothing to do with combating terrorism, it is about limiting Qatar’s sovereignty, and outsourcing our foreign policy,” he said in an emailed statement.

Ties Cut

The feud began this month when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt abruptly cut ties, accusing their fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member of supporting terrorism and cozying up to Iran. Qatar denies the accusations and countered that Saudi Arabia is seeking to dominate smaller states within the region. 

The Saudi alliance severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar. The move split families, disrupted trade, and threatens to alter long-standing geopolitical alliances. It could weaken or break apart the six-member Gulf group with a diplomatic resolution.

If diplomacy doesn’t work “and Qatar is not ready to acknowledge and address its support for extremism and terrorism, we will have to come and say you go your way,” Gargash said. Qatar “cannot be a Trojan horse” in regards to security in the region, he said.

Gargash reiterated an earlier accusation that Qatar leaked the alliance’s demands, saying the action undermined Kuwait’s effort to mediate. Should Qatar agree to the deal, Gargash called for U.S. and European Union involvement in monitoring its compliance.

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