AFP: Measures taken by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other nations against Qatar aim to pressure Doha into drastic policy changes, a senior UAE official told AFP yesterday.
“This is not about regime change -- this is about change of policy, change of approach,” UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in an interview, accusing Qatar of being “the main champion of extremism and terrorism in the region”
“The government of Qatar is in denial. It is trying to describe this as an issue about the independence of their foreign policy, and it is not,” Gargash said.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain are among several states that this week cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, in the worst crisis to hit the Gulf in recent years.
The four states have suspended all flights to and from Doha and given all Qatari citizens two weeks to return home. The Arab states accuse Qatar, a gas-rich emirate at the Saudi border, of supporting extremism.
Qatar has denied the charges.
Led by Kuwait, mediation efforts are now underway to resolve the crisis, which Gargash said was the result of “an accumulation over many, many years of subversive Qatari politics and support for extremism and terrorist organisations”.
“We have now reached a cul-de-sac in terms of trying to convince Qatar to change course,” he explained, drawing a parallel to a similar diplomatic crisis in 2014. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain temporarily pulled their ambassadors from Bahrain in 2014 in a dispute similar to this week’s crisis.
The boycott ended after Qatar agreed to a string of concessions including relocating leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to Turkey and cooperating with Gulf states on intelligence and security.
Qatar has nonetheless forged regional alliances independently of its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council states, drawing accusation by Saudi Arabia and its allies of serving Iranian interests.