Blockade stirs defiance, patriotism in Qatar residents

A joint statement issued by foreign ministers of the Saudi-led bloc revealed that Qatar had rejected the demands previously sent to Doha by Arab countries.

The demands inlcuded ending support for the Muslim Brotherhood, cutting ties with Iran and closing state-owned TV broadcaster al-Jazeera.

Its economy, fueled by its natural gas exports, seems to be weathering the crisis though there has been pressure on its stock market and currency.

The four countries "express their sorrow for Qatar's negative response which showed its negligence and lack of seriousness in dealing with the roots of the problem", Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri said, reading their joint statement.

He also said, "In respect to future measures, we are in constant communication. The embargo will remain in place until Qatar rectifies its policies".

The contents of Qatar's response submitted on Monday have not been disclosed, but earlier Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said the list of demands "is unrealistic and is not actionable".

Shares in the country's banks fell sharply last month after the UAE's central bank told its lenders to stop dealing with 59 people linked to Qatar and to carry out enhanced due diligence on their activities with six Qatari banks. Doha has denied the allegations.

"The fact that these four countries couldn't even decide when they're going to have their next meeting in Bahrain suggests that there is not yet consensus over where they'd like to go next", he said.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain said they are sorry that Qatar responded negatively to their 13 demands.

The ministers did not say what their next steps would be - that, they explained, would be announced after further consultations.

According to the Saudi Press Agency, Al Mu'allemi also noted that the collaboration between the two Middle Eastern countries was one of the reasons for the boycott of Qatar, by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt.

Amid the Cairo meeting, US President Donald Trump yesterday spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi about the Qatar crisis, calling for talks to resolve the dispute, said the White House. "But it is also possible that it will continue to be hard for some days", he told reporters in Kuwait, where he met the Gulf state's ruler who is mediating in the crisis. "The matter is not related only to the sovereignty of Qatar", Gabriel said.

The foreign affairs think tank called for a public inquiry into the role of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations.

While the U.S. government supports numerous policies motivating the Arab blockade, it faces a practical challenge, as Qatar hosts the America's largest military base in the Middle East.

  • Wendy Palmer