International News

Qatar Vows No Negotiations Until Blockade Ends

Constance Renton

Toronto - Qatari Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, announced to reporters Monday that "Qatar is under blockade, there is no negotiation. They have to lift the blockade to start negotiations."

According to the minister, any issue not related to the interests shared by the countries comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council are considered by Qatar to be internal matters and, therefore, not subject to negotiation.

"Anything not related to them is not subject to negotiation. No one has the right to interfere in my affairs. Al Jazeera is Qatar's affairs, Qatari foreign policy on regional issues is Qatar's affairs. And we are not going to negotiate on our own affairs," Al Thani said.

He also clarified that Kuwait’s ruler, the rift’s mediator, is still waiting to receive a list of demands from Saudi Arabia. Until those demands are issued, he said, there would be no negotiations.

"Until now we didn't see any progress about lifting the blockade, which is the precondition for anything to move forward."

What they are looking for, waiting for, Al Thani said, are specific demands from the blockade states, led by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, not sweeping statements.

"We cannot just have (vague) demands such as 'the Qataris know what we want from them, they have to stop this or that, they have to be monitored by a foreign monitoring mechanism,’" Sheikh Mohammed said.

On June 4, the four Gulf countries decided to sever ties with Qatar over its alleged funding of terrorist groups. The abrupt decision came after Qatar complained about its state-run news agency being hacked. After a thorough, on-site investigation by the FBI, the hacking was confirmed, including the embedding of fake news. Responsibility for the hack was laid at the feet of Russia, although it has yet to be proven whether the perpetrator was a private Russian interest or the Russian government itself.

Things quickly escalated into a trade blockade, which now affects virtually every sector of Qatari life apart from energy exports. The world’s biggest exporter of liquified natural gas (LNG), Qatar’s energy sector, for now, remains untouched by the crisis.

In the face of its detractors, Qatar has remained defiant, vowing to turn to other states for aid until the rift, the most serious in the Gulf for years, is resolved. Illustrating their point, Al Thani said, "Iran has facilitated for us the sky passages for our aviation and we are cooperating with all countries that can ensure supplies for Qatar."

"We have a back-up plan which depends mainly on Turkey, Kuwait and Oman," he continued.

Morocco is also among the countries that decided to send food supplies to Qatar.  On June 12, an official royal communique announced that King Mohammed VI had authorized the delivery of much-needed food supplies during the blockade.

The decision to send the aid was “in line with the teachings of our religion especially during the month of Ramadan where requites solidarity between Muslim people,” explained the communiqué.

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