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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 February 2019

Gargash: Qatar’s isolation could last for years

Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, also urged Turkey to take a balanced approach in the Qatar conflict and understand that its best interest lies in supporting the efforts of the Arab bloc.
Dr Anwar Gargash says if Doha wants to be isolated over its perverted view of its political role, let it be isolated. Ravindranath K / The National
Dr Anwar Gargash says if Doha wants to be isolated over its perverted view of its political role, let it be isolated. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // The diplomatic and economic isolation of Qatar can last “years” if Doha does not address the concerns of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi over its “perverted view”, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said on Monday. 

Dr Anwar Gargash, who has been meeting official in European capitals over the past week, said the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt will within days list the specific issues that Qatar must address in order to reach a resolution. 

“The Kuwaiti mediation will be very useful and there will be demands coming,” Dr Gargash said in Paris. “Qatar will realise that this is a new state of affairs and isolation can last years.”

“If they want to be isolated because of their perverted view of what their political role is, then let them be isolated,” he said, according to Reuters. 

The bloc of Arab countries accuse Doha of supporting political Islamist groups and terrorists, meddling in the internal affairs of their countries, and using Qatar-backed media to give a platform to extremist voices and critics of their governments. 

Doha denies that it funds terrorist groups and claims the isolation moves are political. 

Qatar foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman on Monday demanded the UAE and Saudi Arabia lift what he called a “blockade” as a pre-condition for crisis talks.

“We have to make it very clear for everyone, negotiations must be done in a civilised way and should have a solid basis and not under pressure or under blockade,” he said.

Turkey, Doha’s closest ally, has been pressing Riyadh to find a resolution to the GCC crisis. While Turkey’s foreign minister made stops in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar last week, Turkish officials have engaged in an increasingly strident war of words with their UAE counterparts since the crisis began on June 5.

Dr Gargash has urged Turkey to take a balanced approach in the Qatar conflict and understand that its best interest lies in supporting the efforts of the Arab bloc to force a change in Doha’s policiess. 

Turkey’s most direct intervention in the crisis was the acceleration of a 2014 agreement to send more troops to the permanent base in Qatar.

On Sunday, an unspecified number of soldiers arrived at Tariq Bin Ziyad military base, where around 100 had already been deployed for joint military exercises. Turkish officials have previously said there will eventually be up to 3,000 troops at the base, primarily for training exercises and to enhance GCC security. 

Qatar also hosts the largest US base in the region at Al Udeid air base, which is used as the forward headquarters for US Central Command, that oversees US military operations across the region. 

Qatar’s defence ministry said the joint exercises had been previously planned, though there is widespread agreement among officials and observers in the region that the fast-tracked deployment was aimed at deterring any military action against Doha. 

Al Jazeera, which is blocked in the UAE, reportedly aired footage of a column of Turkish armoured vehicles moving through the streets. 

tkhan@thenational.ae

Updated: June 19, 2017 04:00 AM

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