July 30 (UPI) — The four Arab nations boycotting Qatar reiterated 13 demands on fighting terrorism to be met before talks to end their boycott can commence.
The foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt suggested they would be “ready for dialogue” if Qatar commits to curbing terrorism. Also, they want news giant Al-Jazeera closed and ties with Iran reduced.
“The four countries are ready for dialogue with Qatar with the condition that it announces its sincere willingness to stop funding terrorism and extremism, and its commitment to not interfere in other countries’ foreign affairs and respond to the 13 demands,” Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said after meeting his counterparts in Manama, Bahrain’s capital.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said “these demands are not negotiable. We cannot shrink [the list] down.”
Qatar, which strongly denied the allegations, rejected the conditions for the lifting the sanctions.
Qatar’s lawyers called the tactics “reminiscent of the extreme and punitive conduct of ‘bully’ states that have historically resulted in war.”
On June 5, the four nations broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar. Saudi Arabia closed its land border with Qatar, and all four countries cut air and sea links with Doha. Also, Qatari expatriates were expelled from their countries.
The four nations also have accused Qatar of complicating the hajj — the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca — for its citizens. Mecca is in Saudi Arabia, but Qataris cannot fly there directly from Doha under the sanctions.
Mahjoob Zweiri, professor at Qatar university, told Al Jazeera the two sides “haven’t moved anywhere.”
“The international community has a very positive impression about Qatar in fighting terrorism, but the four countries are not sharing the same impression as the international community,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson flew to the region this month and presented proposals aimed at preparing both sides to hold direct talks.
Earlier this month, it appeared the nations had abandoned the 13-point list when diplomats told reporters at the United Nations they now wanted Qatar to accept six broad principles.
“We are back to square one,” Abdullah Al-Shayji, a political science professor at Kuwait University, said to Bloomberg. “We have not progressed an inch because we were under the impression that the 13 demands were not only null and void but channeled into six principles. It seems that they are not budging and are escalating.”