DUBAI: A senior UAE official on Thursday accused Qatar of escalating a row with its Arab neighbors by seeking help from Turkey and Iran in the dispute.
“The great escalation from the confusing and confused brother country and the request for political protection from two non-Arab countries and military protection from one of them could be a new tragic and comic chapter,” Anwar Gargash, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, wrote on Twitter, referring to Iran and Turkey.
Qatar's foreign minister rejected what he described as “interference” in his country's foreign policy, ruling out a military solution to the crisis.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said no one gave Arab nations the right to “blockade” his country, and that the campaign by Saudi Arabia and its allies to isolate Qatar is based on what he termed “false and fabricated news.”
He said Qatar would not shut down its Al-Jazeera news network, adding: “If anyone thinks they are going to impose anything on my internal affairs or my internal issues, this is not going to happen.”
He also said Qatar's emir will not leave the country while it is “in blockade,” so he cannot attend an offered mediation by US President Donald Trump at the White House.
Trump is continuing to talk to all partners in the Middle East to de-escalate tensions, a White House spokeswoman said, but gave no other details.
Meanwhile, Qatari armed forces that had been stationed in Saudi Arabia as part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen returned home on Wednesday, state television reported on its Twitter account.
In another development, the central African nation of Chad has recalled its ambassador from Qatar, joining Saudi Arabia and other nations who have moved to isolate the Gulf country over allegations it supports terrorism.
In a statement, Chad's Foreign Ministry urged countries to use dialogue to resolve the escalating dispute.
Qatar-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera said that it was under a wide-scale cyberattack, which had targeted “all systems,” according to a statement released on social media by the broadcaster.
“Al Jazeera Media Network under cyber attack on all systems, websites & social media platforms,” it said on Twitter.
Egypt, meanwhile, called for the UN Security Council to launch an investigation into accusations that Qatar paid a ransom of up to $1 billion “to a terrorist group active in Iraq” to release kidnapped members of its royal family. Qatar has denied trying to pay ransom money to secure the release of 26 Qataris, including members of the country's ruling royal family, abducted in Iraq by unidentified gunmen. The Qataris were released in April, some 18 months after they were kidnapped during a hunting trip in southern Iraq.
“It is everywhere in the news that Qatar paid up to $1 billion to a terrorist group active in Iraq in order to release members of its royal family,” senior Egyptian UN diplomat Ihab Moustafa Awad Moustafa told the Security Council.
“This violation of the Security Council resolutions, if proved correct, shall definitely have a negative bearing on counter-terrorism efforts on the ground,” he said. “We propose that the council launch a comprehensive investigation into this incident and other similar incidents.”