Bahrain calls for 'freeze' of Qatar's GCC membership

Foreign Minister Khalid al-Khalifa calls for freeze of Doha's membership of the Gulf bloc until it submits to demands.

    Bahrain is one of four countries that has broken ties with Qatar [Faisal al-Nasser/Reuters]
    Bahrain is one of four countries that has broken ties with Qatar [Faisal al-Nasser/Reuters]

    Bahrain will not attend the next Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit if Qatar attends, the Bahraini foreign minister said in a series of tweets, in which he also called for Doha to be suspended from the bloc.

    In the posts made late Sunday night, Khalid al-Khalifa said Qatar's membership of the bloc should be frozen until it submits to demands made by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the UAE.

    "Bahrain will not attend the GCC summit and sit with Qatar ... The right step needed to maintain the GCC is to freeze Qatar's membership until it comes to its senses and complies with our list of demands," Khalifa said.

    "Given what comes from Qatar, from its rogue policy and pervasive evil nature that threatens our national security, our countries have taken the important step of boycotting Qatar and imposing a siege on it," he added. 

    Khalifa's tweets are the first admission by a member of the quartet that they are besieging Qatar after previously claiming there was merely a boycott of the country and that Doha had no grounds to complain.

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    The comments were made shortly after the broadcast of a CBS interview with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in which he condemned attempts to encroach on his country's sovereignty.

    "Our sovereignty is a red line. We don't accept anybody interfering our sovereignty. When you tell me to close a channel like Al Jazeera, history will write one day in 50, 60 or 70 years how it changed the whole idea of free speech in the region," Sheikh Tamim said of the demands.

    Bahrain and its allies, which have imposed a land, sea, and air blockade on Qatar since June, accuse Doha of supporting terrorist groups.

    Demands made by the quartet include suspension of support for groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, cooling of ties with Iran, shutting down Al Jazeera and several other media outlets, and the removal of Turkish troops from Qatar. 

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    Qatar has vehemently denied the accusations and rejected the demands.

    "They don't like our independence, the way how we are thinking, our vision for the region. We want freedom of speech for the people of the region. And they're not happy with that. And so they think that this is a threat to them," the emir told Charlie Rose on the 60 Minutes strand.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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