Erdogan rejects Arab demands; Turkish troops stay in Qatar

Sheikh Saif Al Thani, director of Qatar's government communications office, expressed doubt about reaching an agreement, saying the demands don't meet the criteria set out by the USA and United Kingdom governments for "reasonable and realistic" measures.

The four Arab governments delivered the demands to Qatar through mediator Kuwait on Thursday, more than two weeks after severing all ties with the country and imposing an embargo.

The document has not been published but has been widely leaked and the demands are sweeping in their scope. One of these demands includes shutting down of the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera news network. Among them are - lowering the diplomatic relations with Iran, closing down the Al-Jazeera television channel, stopping military cooperation with Turkey and closing of the Turkish military base in the country.

The first demand asks Doha to cut its diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there.

Erdogan also lambasted the requirement that the Turkish military leave Qatar as a sign of disrespect. But on Monday, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said Qatar would not negotiate with the four states unless they lifted their measures against Doha.

Bloomberg reports the UAE's state minister for foreign affairs as saying Qatar must take the demands seriously or face "divorce" from the Gulf.

The disagreement between Egypt and the three GCC countries and Qatar is not a matter of sovereignty but of its support for extremism and terrorism, remarked Dr Gargash. "It would be wiser that (Qatar) deal seriously with the demands and concerns of the neighbours or a divorce will take place", he wrote on Twitter.

"The alternative is not escalation, the alternative is parting of ways, because it is very hard for us to maintain a collective grouping", Gargash said as cited by Reuters.

Al Jazeera accused them of trying to silence freedom of expression, adding: "We assert our right to practise our journalism professionally without bowing to pressure from any government or authority".

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain cut off diplomatic ties and imposed a blockade on Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and undermining regional security.

DUBAI: A top Emirati diplomat said on Saturday that USA and European guarantees would be needed to monitor any future agreement aimed at ending a row between Qatar and its neighbors. US President Donald Trump had supported the action, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis had called for mediation and a quick resolution of the dispute.

"If there is such a demand, it will mean interference in bilateral ties", Isik said, suggesting instead that Turkey might continue to bolster its presence in Qatar. The country's isolation is about "behavioral change" rather than regime change, he said at a press conference in Dubai.

  • Joanne Flowers