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Emirati minister says Qatar's isolation could last 'years'

US President Donald Trump waded into the Gulf row in a series of early morning tweets that signaled support for the effort to isolate Qatar, despite the country being home to the largest American airbase in the Middle East
AFP
The crisis has raised major concerns over instability in the region

Qatar's diplomatic isolation could "last years", a United Arab Emirates minister said Monday, accusing the Gulf state of "supporting jihadists".

"We do not want to escalate, we want to isolate," state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash told journalists during a visit to Paris.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain broke off relations with Qatar two weeks ago and have closed land and sea borders and imposed severe restrictions on airspace.

The minister said Qatar's rivals were "betting on time", but said a solution could not be brokered until it abandoned its support for "extremist Islamists."

"They have built a sophisticated podium for jihadism and Islamic extremism, we have a golden opportunity to break this support," the minister said.

He called for countries like the United States, France, Germany and Britain to help monitor any agreement reached with Qatar to ensure they are not cooperating with jihadists.

"They have the diplomatic clout and technical know-how," the minister added.

The crisis has raised major concerns over instability in the region.

Following the blockade, Iran, a main rival of Saudi Arabia, offered its support to Doha, urging Qatar and neighboring Gulf countries to engage in dialogue to resolve their dispute.

The Islamic republic has also opened its airspace to about 100 more Qatari flights a day, after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates banned Qatari planes from their airpace.

Shiite Iran has had no diplomatic ties with most of the mainly Sunni Gulf states since 2016, when Arab nations followed Saudi Arabia in severing relations after protesters torched its missions in the Islamic republic.

Gas has helped transform the tiny emirate into one of the richest countries in the world, fueling its rise into a major regional player, but the blockade sparked an economic crisis with a massive food shortage hitting the gas-rich country after panicked residents raided local grocery stores.

Qatar shares its only land border with Saudi Arabia, and relies heavily on food imports, much of it from Gulf countries.

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