No-one has right to 'blockade' my country, says Qatar foreign minister

Qatar's neighbours are angry at Doha's backing for jihadist groups, its willingness to engage with Iran, and its patronage of Al Jazeera, which often criticises Gulf governments.

The emirate was responding just hours after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain published a list of 59 people and entities linked to "terrorism".

He added a further escalation of Middle Eastern tensions "serves no one's interests", because the region itself "is a political and military powder keg". Qatar has denied the charges.

In a surprise decision announced on Monday, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain effectively sealed the country off, forbidding their citizens from travelling to, residing in or passing through Qatar.

Its emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, on Wednesday arrived in Doha, where he was received by his Qatari counterpart, Kuwait's official KUNA news agency said. On Thursday, Trump had offered up Tillerson to mediate the crisis. The air base, which has hosted USA military aircraft for more than 15 years, is considered a marvel, with some of the longest runways in the Middle East and sophisticated hangars that rise like mountains from the flat desert floor. They have imposed what Qatar says is a blockade of shipping and air traffic, and closed Qatar's only land border.

President Donald Trump called Qatar's emir Wednesday and offered United States help as efforts grew to resolve a damaging feud between the emirate and its Gulf neighbours.

Trump also says that unity among Gulf Cooperation Council countries and strong partnerships with the USA are crucial for defeating terrorism.

The four countries also cut transport links to tiny gas-rich Qatar, disrupting food and other supplies and deepening uncertainty about the future of trade and investment ties. Other regional ports are expected to follow suit.

Gargash said the scope of Qatar's sheltering of extremists has widened since 2014, when concern was largely focused on Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, a senior Egyptian cleric viewed as the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.

He also ratified a bill approved by Turkish lawmakers on Wednesday to deploy troops to a Turkish base in Qatar in a move seen as Ankara s show of support for Doha.

There was no immediate response for a request for comment on that demand from a Qatari official.

"Going beyond politics and diplomacy, such as recalling ambassadors or cutting diplomatic ties, Qatar will be more or less isolated and existentially affected [by the move]", German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told Handelsblatt newspaper, the ministry's website stated.

  • Zachary Reyes