Qatar has rejected new claims by a Saudi-led bloc of countries that it “finances terrorism” and intervenes in their internal affairs.
“The State of Qatar’s position on terrorism is consistent and known for its rejection and condemnation of all forms of terrorism, whatever the causes and motives,” the state Qatar News Agency quoted a senior Foreign Ministry source as saying on Friday.
The bloc, consisting of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, severed diplomatic ties and cut all land, sea, and air routes with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region, allegations denied by Doha.
They later issued a 13-point list of demands for Doha to meet in order for the relations to be restored. Among them was that Qatar close a Turkish military base, limit its ties with Iran, and “compensate” the sanctioning countries. They also demanded that Al Jazeera, a media network that has reportedly been critical of Saudi Arabia and the other boycotting countries, be closed.
Qatar has said those demands reveal how the Saudi-bloc’s pretext for the severance of ties with Doha, i.e. the accusation that Qatar sponsors terror, is just that: a pretext. Doha has refused to meet the “unreasonable” demands, but it has also voiced readiness for a negotiated solution to the standoff.
Foreign ministers from the bloc of countries boycotting Qatar met in Cairo on Wednesday. They later released a statement, saying Doha’s rejection of the demands “proved” its link with terrorism.
The Qatari Foreign Ministry official dismissed the claim as “baseless” and tantamount to “defamation.” The source said, however, that Qatar was ready to “cooperate and review all claims that do not contradict the sovereignty of the State of Qatar.”
The foreign ministers of the boycotting countries also said the list of the collective demands was now void and they pledged further political, economic, and legal steps against Qatar. This is while at least one of the Saudi-led countries had previously said no further escalation of the dispute was planned.
‘Too rich to be worried by sanctions’
Also on Friday, Ali Sharif al-Emadi, the Qatari finance minister, told The Times that his country’s huge financial reserves, built on the sales of natural gas over decades, meant it could withstand the sanctions by the Saudi-led countries.
“We have sovereign wealth funds of 250 percent of gross domestic product; we have Qatar Central Bank reserves; and we have a Ministry Of Finance strategic reserve,” he said.
“Bahrain and Egypt, they are at junk bond level,” he said. “If you look at Saudi Arabia, they are having genuine issues with their finances.”
“We are the fastest growing country in the region, 40 percent faster than the nearest GCC country (the UAE),” he added, referring to the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council.
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