Gulf countries order Qatar to close Al-Jazeera and other outlets

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State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash also accused Qatar of leaking the list of demands, which was first reported by Associated Press.

The list of demands includes the closure of Al-Jazeera television, a long-standing source of conflict between Doha and neighbouring countries which accuse it of fomenting regional strife.

Not only must Qatar shut down the Doha-based satellite broadcaster, the list says, but also all of its affiliates.

In Kuwait and Oman, citizens worry about the health of their current leaders, respectively the 88-year-old Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah and 76-year-old Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

There's finally some movement in the standoff between Arab countries and Qatar - but probably not in the direction USA officials were hoping.

The United States was hoping the demands might move crisis resolution along.

The affair has also drawn in the United States, whose Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called for Gulf unity. Spicer eventually stated that the USA government wants to make sure "that people understand while we want to de-escalate the situation there, that we have to understand that we will always preserve the right of self-defense".

"We hope that the countries involved resolve the situation through dialogue", said United Nations spokeswoman Eri Kaneko. "We encourage all parties to exercise restraint to allow for productive, diplomatic discussions", the spokesperson stated.

"On June 15, three fishing boats with a legal identity and fishing permit left the port of Bushehr in south of Iran heading to the Persian Gulf waters".

According to the document posted on social media, the four countries demand that Qatar closes Al-Jazeera, downgrades diplomatic ties with Iran and shuts a Turkish military base in the emirate.

Al Jazeera has condemned the demand and called it "nothing short than a siege against the journalistic profession".

Jazeera hit back at the closure order, calling it "nothing but an attempt to silence the freedom of expression in the region".

Thrust into the middle of the crisis, the head of Al-Jazeera's English language service said the network remained committed to continuing its broadcasts.

Iran's interior minister called on Wednesday for the immediate release of three Iranian fishermen who were detained by the Saudi navy last week, saying their boasts were pushed off course by waves.

Qatar - which shares its only land border with Saudi Arabia - has rejected accusations it supports terrorism, calling them "unjustified" and "baseless".

Qatar's airlines have been forced to re-route some of their flights to use Iranian airspace and avoid the newly-banned skies of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Qatar must also announce it is severing ties with terrorist, ideological and sectarian organisations including the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Jabhat Fateh al Sham, formerly al Qaeda's branch in Syria, the Arab official said, and surrender all designated terrorists on its territory. But Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, he said, want to ensure operations at al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, the launchpad for the USA -led coalition battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

He said undermining "serious diplomacy will lead to a parting of ways".

Saudi Arabia and its allies have presented Qatar with a list of steep demands to end the crisis that has roiled the Gulf for nearly three weeks, as diplomats predicted that the tiny Gulf state would likely refuse to comply. In a series of tweets, President Donald Trump seemed to take credit for and applauded the moves against Qatar, which is home to the main USA airbase in the region.

  • Salvatore Jensen