Qatar considers seeking damages over Gulf blockade

Economy minister discusses compensation with trade officials in Geneva as legal team prepares to study the sanctions.

    Qatar has announced that it is considering legal action against four Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, demanding compensation for losses incurred owing to the ongoing blockade.

    Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar's economy minister, met on Tuesday the heads of international trade organisations in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the case for compensation.

    Qatar has contracted a specialised legal team to study the actions taken by the blockading countries against it, according to a statement from the economy ministry in Doha.

    READ MORE: France calls for lifting of sanctions on Qatar citizens

    Separately, Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah, Qatar's defence minister, said the country may even its case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court, at The Hague.

    Because of its financial reserves and as long as it can continue exporting liquefied natural gas, Qatar has avoided any crippling economic crisis because of the blockade.

    But it has been forced to rely on planes to import food, after Saudi Arabia and the UAE blocked shipment of goods into Qatar.

    Several other businesses were also disrupted, including the country's national flag carrier Qatar Airways, whose flights to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain remain suspended.

    Legal measures

    The development comes a day after Qatar officials said the government was considering "legal measures" locally and internationally over the alleged hacking of the state news agency.

    Speaking to Al Jazeera on Tuesday, Marwan Kabalan of the Doha Institute said that over the past weeks, Qatar has been trying to use "different tools to undermine the blockade".

    The "balance of power" within the Gulf region is now "tilting towards Qatar", particularly after the Washington Post revelation of UAE's role in the hacking that precipitated the crisis.

    Qatar Airways flights to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain remain suspended [Reuters]

    With the Gulf crisis entering its eighth week, however, there is no sign of the dispute being resolved soon.

    Earlier, Mohammed Cherkaoui, professor of conflict resolution at George Mason University in Virginia, told Al Jazeera that regional and international mediation have faced "several setbacks". Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar on June 5.

    The quartet accuse Qatar of funding "terrorism", an accusation Qatar rejects as "baseless".

    On June 22, the Saudi-led group issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of Al Jazeera, limiting ties with Iran and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country, as a prerequisite to lift the sanctions.

    Qatar rejected the demands and the countries now consider the list "null and void".

    Kuwait is trying to mediate in the dispute, and countries such as the US and France have urged the parties to engage in direct talks.

    Qatar and several countries have called for the lifting of the sanctions before face-to-face talks can proceed.

    Daniel Hannan, a Conservative British member of the European Parliament who visited Qatar on Monday, said the continuing blockade on Qatar is not helpful in resolving the crisis.

    "There is almost no situation in the world that isn't made worse by an economic blockade," Hannan told Al Jazeera.

    Hannan said an "immediate lifting" of the sanctions could pave the way for talks, saying: "It is very difficult to negotiate with a gun to your head."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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