Foreign minister says Qatar never supported al-Nusra Front, the former Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, or any armed group.
Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that have cut ties to Qatar have reportedly issued a list of demands to end a major Gulf crisis, insisting that Qatar shut down the Al Jazeera network, close a Turkish military base and scale down ties with Iran.
Associated Press and Reuters news agencies reported they obtained the list from unnamed officials from one of the countries involved in isolating Qatar.
Those countries have now given Qatar 10 days to comply with all of the demands, which also include paying an unspecified sum in compensation for what they claimed to be “loss of life and other financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies”.
According to the list, Qatar must refuse to naturalise citizens from the four countries and “revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws”.
Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson insisted that Qatar’s neighbours provide a list of demands that was “reasonable and actionable”.
The Iran provisions in the document say Qatar must shut down diplomatic posts in Iran, expel any members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and only conduct trade and commerce with Iran that complies with US sanctions.
The demands regarding Al Jazeera state that Qatar must also shut down all affiliates and other news outlets that Qatar funds, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al Jadeed and Middle East Eye.
If Qatar agrees to comply, the list asserts that it will be audited once a month for the first year, and then once per quarter in the second year after it takes effect.
For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.
The document does not specify what the countries will do if Qatar refuses to comply.
List of demands by Saudi Arabia, other Arab nations
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.
MARWAN BISHARA, AL JAZEERA’S SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST:
This is clearly not just a question of demands, but an insult.
The tone of these demands and the underlining approach does not only show total ignorance of international relations and a lack of understanding about what state sovereignty means, but it also goes to the heart of a lack of coherence and preparation by the four countries over putting a document like this together.
This could be, for some who are supportive of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the start of a negotiating position – the starting bid, and now Qatar could counter-bid. But to be honest, I don’t think that’s even a starting bid.
The US state department had made it clear that this [list with demands] needs to be reasonable, actionable and based on facts. There has to be evidence provided – and of course there is no evidence provided.
What we know is that this has nothing to do with “terrorism”. If you accuse it of doing so, then you have to provide evidence.
Qatar has made it clear that it does not support Fateh al-Sham, ISIL, al-Qaeda and so forth.
The Muslim Brotherhood is not considered a “terrorist” organisation by the UK, by the United States and by most countries around the world.
This list shows that these four countries are not interested in a solution to the crisis. What they are asking for is a complete and total humiliating surrender by Qatar of its sovereignty. That is not going to happen.
This is counter revolution 2.0. This is the second phase of the attack on the Arab Spring and what’s left of it, which is very little.
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.
Fikri Isik, Turkey’s defence minister, said his country had no plans to review its military base in Qatar and that any demand for its closure would represent interference in the country’s relations with the Gulf state.
Isik told broadcaster NTV that he had not yet seen a demand for the base to be shut.
“The base in Qatar is both a Turkish base and one that will preserve the security of Qatar and the region,” Isik said in an interview on Friday.
“Re-evaluating the base agreement with Qatar is not on our agenda.”
Interference in sovereignty
Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra said the list is “definitely going to be rejected by Qatar”.
“Qatar has said it will only look into the demands once the sanctions are lifted,” he said, adding that Qatar had already said that closing Al Jazeera was off the table.
“It is a matter of national sovereignty. Anything that is presented to the Qataris which it considers to be interference in its internal affairs is going to be dismissed,” Ahelbarra said.
“Just yesterday the general sentiment we had was that perhaps the international community and GCC will turn toward restoring ties. But at this particular moment, I believe that there will be further escalation, mounting tension because of these demands.
“Specifically, this demand on compensation takes the region into unchartered territory. To ask for compensation, you have to have the Qatari government say; ‘Sorry, I’ve made mistakes’, and look into every single instance where Qataris made mistakes.
“This is unprecedented in the Arab world. What if the Qataris say the Saudis have to pay compensation for every single civilian killed or innocent life taken all over the world. This is really surreal,” Ahelbarra added.