No detente until Qatar mends its ways: KSA

Published — Wednesday 19 March 2014

Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that its dispute with Qatar would not be resolved unless Doha changed its policy. It also ruled out any US mediation to resolve the standoff between Qatar and its three GCC neighbors — Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

“There will not be any breakthrough unless Qatar — which caused the crisis — changes its policies,” said Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal in comments published by the local Arabic press on Tuesday.
It was the Kingdom’s first public reaction since it pulled out its ambassador from Doha.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar on March 5 in an unprecedented move within the Gulf Cooperation Council, accusing Doha of failing to abide by a security accord not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs.

Prince Saud was speaking with reporters following his meeting with Tunisian Prime Minister Mahdi Juma in Riyadh. His comments also come ahead of US President Barack Obama’s landmark visit to Saudi Arabia at the end of this month.

Commentators say the three GCC states are angry at Qatar’s support to the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement declared a terrorist organization by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and other countries.

They particularly resent the way Doha has sheltered prominent Brotherhood preacher Yousuf Al-Qaradawi, who has been given regular air time on its Al-Jazeera channel and on Qatari state television.

Last week, Qatar dismissed demands by the three fellow Gulf states for changes in its foreign policy, calling its independence “non-negotiable.”

Asked whether the dispute with Qatar would have any negative impact on the GCC move to establish a Gulf union, Prince Saud said: “I don’t think so, because the Gulf Union aims at further strengthening integration and cooperation between the member states.”

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