JEDDAH: Sanctions imposed on Qatar this month are looking increasingly likely to become permanent as the deadline to meet a set of demands laid out by its Gulf neighbors fast approaches, according to the BBC.
The small peninsular nation has been told it must stop funding terrorism — which it denies — downgrade ties with Iran, and shutdown its news organization Al Jazeera, or face permanent isolation.
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt, have given Doha until Monday, July 3, to comply with their demands, but so far it has shown no signs of backing down.
UAE Ambassador to Moscow, Omar Ghobash, conceded that Qatar was not responding “positively” to the demands.
And he explained: “I think the whole idea would be to ultimately, simply disengage from Qatar.”
But asked if this included expulsion from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), he replied: “not immediately,” but added it was under discussion.
Ghobash said he did not believe there was risk that the situation could escalate into a military conflict, or at least: “Not from our side.”
“These are relatives and friends. They have a leadership that’s decided to undermine us. We’ll cut all our ties with Qatar, economic, political and even social as a result of the flight bans.”
He explained that once the deadline past, the four Arab states would “no longer be interested in bringing Qatar back into the Gulf and the Arab fold.”
Ghobash admitted that permanent sanctions would present risks — not least, pushing Qatar further toward Iran.
But he added: “Unfortunately Qatar has been in the arms of Iran and many Sunni extremist groups for a long time… So the idea of it falling into Iran’s lap is something we accept [as a risk] but at least it will provide clarity to the region and we’ll know who our friends and enemies are.”
Turkey, which maintains a military presence in Qatar, recently airlifted in armored vehicles, and it also suggested it might deploy more troops, prompting Bahrain to accuse Qatar of “military escalation.”
Ghobash denies the current situation is mere spat between royals, adding that such a claim was a “a complete misrepresentation of the situation.”
Instead he said: This is a serious conflict and a turning point in our societies… This is a principled stand that we are taking against very powerful negative narratives of Islam being funded by countries like Qatar.”