Cairo: Qatar will not be barred from an Arab summit in Riyadh later this month, but the standoff between Doha and a Saudi-led, four-nation alliance could last a “long time,” Saudi Arabia’s crown prince said in comments published on Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting extremist groups and Iran.
Qatar has long denied funding extremists, though it supports Islamist opposition movements that are considered terrorist groups by other countries in the region. It has long had warm ties with Iran.
“We will not accept any resolutions to the crisis (with Qatar) outside an Arab or a Gulf framework, but that does not mean we will bar Qatar from attending the upcoming Arab summit,” said Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, who flew to London on Tuesday night at the end of a three-day visit to Egypt.
His comments, made to Egyptian editors, were published on Wednesday in Al Shorouk newspaper.
He said the crisis with Qatar “could last for a long time”, comparing it to the United States’ decades-long embargo on Cuba. Saudi Arabia sealed Qatar’s only land border last June, and the four nations have cut off air and sea access, forcing Qatar to divert flights over Iran and transit goods through other ports.
The prince claimed success in the kingdom’s struggle to counter Tehran’s growing influence in the region, saying “Iran’s project is collapsing and we are besieging it everywhere”.
A joint Saudi-Egyptian statement released late on Tuesday, which apparently referred to Iran, said “the security of the Arab region cannot be realised except through the end of all attempts to interfere by a regional party in the affairs of Arab nations”.