Arab nations extend deadline for their demands to be met
FOUR Arab states extended the deadline in their ultimatum to Qatar by 48 hours yesterday after the tiny emirate called their bluff.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt issued a joint statement early yesterday as the cut-off point for compliance with 13 humiliating demands loomed.
Those include an end to support for Isis and al-Qaida — terror groups the Saudis themselves are widely believed to bankroll — as well as the Muslim Brotherhood and Palestine’s Hamas.
Another demand, condemned by journalists’ unions worldwide, is the closure of al-Jazeera and all other media funded by the Qatari government.
The four nations also want the expulsion of Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops — not known to be present in Qatar — and regular compliance audits for the next 12 years.
“The response of the four states will be sent following the study of the Qatari government’s response and assessment of its response to the whole demands,” they said.
On a visit to Rome on Saturday, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said he had no fear of military action from Doha’s more powerful neighbours after the deadline expired.
“We believe that the world is governed by international laws that don’t allow big countries to bully small countries,” he told reporters.
“No-one has the right to issue to a sovereign country an ultimatum.”
Yesterday the sheikh travelled to Kuwait City carrying a handwritten letter from Qatari emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to his Kuwaiti counterpart, Sheikh Sabah sl-Sabah, who is mediating between the sides in the crisis.
The contents of the letter were not disclosed, but Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah struck a defiant note.
“Qatar is not an easy country to be swallowed by anyone,” he said.
“We are ready. We stand ready to defend our country.”
The US has aircraft and 10,000 troops stationed at Qatar’s al-Udeid airbase as part of its Operation Inherent Resolve mission against Isis.
Foreign ministers of the four Arab nations will meet in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss their next moves, Egypt said yesterday.