Gulf Crisis Remains Unsolved As Qatar Rejects Ultimatum

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa attend a press conference after their meeting that discussed the diplomatic situation with Qatar, in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo: Reuters)

Qatar, the host of the biggest U.S. military base in the Middle East, has dismissed 13-point ultimatum by Saudi-led Arab neighbors on Wednesday and did not face stiff retaliation by other Gulf nations and Egypt.

“The response (letter) we got was overall negative and lacked any content. It did not provide a basis for Qatar to retreat from its policies,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Samih Shukri said in a press conference without giving further details on the letter Kuwait, as the mediator country, delivered them.

Doha’s rejection of the ultimatum of four Arab countries left them fuming and disappointed, even after 48 hour-extended deadline, but they avoided announcing further sanctions.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who spoke at a news conference in Cairo on Wednesday, joined by his counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt, said that a boycott of Qatar would remain in place.

The Saudi-led coalition, which severed diplomatic and travel ties with Qatar, accuses it of supporting terrorist groups in the region and allying with their regional foe, Iran. They demanded Doha curtail its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, shut down both Turkish military base on its soil and pan-Arab Al Jazeera TV network.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi spoke with U.S. President Donald J. Trump in a telephone call about the dispute with Qatar, Egyptian presidency said. “The visions of the two presidents on dealing with current regional crises were in line,” Mr. Sisi’s office said.

In his speech at the Chatham House, a London-based think tank, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheik Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said Qatar continues to call for dialogue, according to Al Arabiya.

“The expected punitive measures by Arab powers must be in line with the international law,” he added. The minister also stated that there needs to be a “healthy relationship” with Iran, pointing out the two states’ share of an offshore gas field, from where the tiny Gulf state gets most of its enormous wealth.

On Wednesday evening, Qatar’s strong ally Turkey surprisingly announced that it might close its military base in Qatar if demanded by Doha.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told France 24 channel that he doesn’t want Gulf region to be a new “crisis base” after Iraq and Syria. “If Qatar requests us [to shut down our military base], we wouldn’t stay where we are not wanted,” Mr. Erdogan said.

Saudi foreign minister had previously warned Turkey to stay neutral in the ongoing row. Turkey, since the beginning of the crisis, has sent 100 cargo planes with supplies and rushed through legislation to send more troops to its base in Doha.

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