Saudi Arabia and its allies have presented Qatar with a 13-point list of demands, incuding shutting the Al-Jazeera TV network, cutting back diplomatic ties with Iran, severing relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and ending the urkish military presence in Qatar.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain issued the ultimatum on June 23 and gave Qatar 10 days to respond. This ultimatum amounts to calling for a total capitulation. If Qatar rejects it, the Saudi-led block may consider “other options” in solving the ongoing Qatar crisis. It may attempt to use a military force against the Arab nation or to implement a “cold war” approach against Doha.
On Saturday, Qatar confirmed that it is reviewing the presented demands.
“We are reviewing these demands out of respect for … regional security and there will be an official response from our ministry of foreign affairs,” Sheikh Saif al-Thani, the director of Qatar’s government communications office, said.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had asked the four countries to make their demands “reasonable and actionable”.
However, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, quoted by Al-Jazeera, said: “The US secretary of state recently called upon the blockading nations to produce a list of grievances that was ‘reasonable and actionable’.
“The British foreign secretary asked that the demands be ‘measured and realistic.’ This list does not satisfy that [sic] criteria.“
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have little options to step back following the release of their ultimatum to Qatar. If the Saudi-led block fails, this will lead to a dramatic fall of their public image and political influence in the Arab world.
It’s unlikely that Saudi Arabia and its allies didn’t consider various scenarious of conflict and hold consultations with the US before issuing of the ultimatum.
Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman appointed his son Mohammad Bin Salman as his successor instead of Mohammad Bin Nayef. This fact was very likely linked with the confrontation against Qatar.
The question is what kind of measures are the Saudis and their allies ready to implement? The Middle East is rapidly heading to another military conflict and a threat of another global war is growing with it.
According to the Qatari state-run media outlet Al-Jazeera, the list of demands includes:
1) Scale down diplomatic ties with Iran and close the Iranian diplomatic missions in Qatar, expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and cut off military and intelligence cooperation with Iran. Trade and commerce with Iran must comply with US and international sanctions in a manner that does not jeopardise the security of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
2) Immediately shut down the Turkish military base, which is currently under construction, and halt military cooperation with Turkey inside of Qatar.
3) Sever ties to all “terrorist, sectarian and ideological organisations,” specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIL, al-Qaeda, Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as the Nusra Front) and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare these entities as terror groups as per the list announced by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt, and concur with all future updates of this list.
4) Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, US and other countries.
5) Hand over “terrorist figures”, fugitives and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.
6) Shut down Al Jazeera and its affiliate stations.
7) End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.
8) Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.
9) Align Qatar’s military, political, social and economic policies with the other Gulf and Arab countries, as well as on economic matters, as per the 2014 agreement reached with Saudi Arabia.
10) Cease contact with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over files detailing Qatar’s prior contact with and support for opposition groups, and submit details of their personal information and the support Qatar has provided them.
11) Shut down all news outlets funded directly and indirectly by Qatar, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al Jadeed, Mekameleen and Middle East Eye, etc.
12) Agree to all the demands within 10 days of list being submitted to Qatar, or the list will become invalid.
13) Consent to monthly compliance audits in the first year after agreeing to the demands, followed by quarterly audits in the second year, and annual audits in the following 10 years.