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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Bahrain's king rules out attending any meetings with Qatar

King Hamad's statement follows foreign minister's call to freeze Qatar's GCC membership

 

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa told the cabinet on October 30, 2017 that the kingdom would not share any forum with Qatar until Doha changed its policies. Mandel Ngan / AFP
Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa told the cabinet on October 30, 2017 that the kingdom would not share any forum with Qatar until Doha changed its policies. Mandel Ngan / AFP

Bahrain will not participate in any GCC summit or meeting attended by Qatar until it "comes to its senses", King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa said on Monday.

"Meetings and summits of the good cannot be held in the presence of those seeking no good for this bloc and trying to impede its blessed march," King Hamad told a cabinet meeting.

He said Qatar had proved that it did not respect the charters, treaties and bonds on which the GCC was founded, and implemented policies that targeted the security of member states, the Bahrain News Agency reported.

The Bahraini king's comments followed a call by his foreign minister for Qatar’s GCC membership to be suspended until it accepted the demands of the boycotting Arab countries.

“The correct step to preserve the Co-operation Council is to freeze Qatar’s membership until it sees reason and accepts the demands of our countries,” said Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister. “If not, we are fine with it leaving the council.

“Qatar’s refusal to accept our fair demands to stop its continuous conspiring against our country proves it does not respect the GCC and the charters and treaties it signed.”

The conflict erupted in June, but the tensions with Qatar have been there for years, and Doha pledged to change its behaviour when it signed documents with other GCC members in 2013 and 2014.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut all diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5 over its support for extremists and interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

They have also demanded that Qatar cool its relations with Iran, which has also interfered in other nations’ affairs.

“If Qatar thinks its stalling and current evasion will buy it time until the upcoming GCC meeting, it is mistaken,” Sheikh Khalid said. “The situation remains the same and it is a summit we won’t be attending.

“Bahrain will not attend a summit with Qatar, which is getting closer to Iran day after day and bringing foreign forces [to its soil] – dangerous steps for the security of the GCC countries.”

Sheikh Khalid’s remarks were followed by a statement from Bahrain’s counter-terrorism prosecutor’s office on Monday that a court sentenced 19 people to lengthy jail terms on charges of spying for Tehran and plotting to overthrow the government.

Those convicted were found to be leaking information to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hizbollah militia and of receiving “material support” from the two groups. Of the 19 people, 15 were stripped of their Bahraini citizenship, added the statement.

They were also convicted of forming a cell to "incite the public against the government and call for regime change by force".

The GCC summit, scheduled to take place in Kuwait in December, will most likely be postponed.

Major Saudi newspaper Okaz has reported that the meeting will be pushed back another six months because of Doha’s failure to address its neighbours’ concerns.

The four Arab countries stand firm by their decision to boycott Qatar, saying they are willing to re-establish communications with Doha only if it adheres to regional and international agreements and the demands and principles they have issued.

Doha has so far refused to meet the quartet’s 13 demands, which included the closure of Qatar-owned Al Jazeera news channel — which the quartet says provides a platform for extremists and dissidents — and the shutting down of a permanent Turkish military base in the country.

The Gulf Cooperation Council was founded in 1981 and comprises Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar.

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Read more:

Enough with the rhetoric. It is time for concrete action by Qatar

Tillerson warns of 'those looking to exploit Qatar crisis' to destabilise the region

Gargash slams Qatar for attempting to 'undermine' UAE's role in Yemen

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