Kuwait City: Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir has reiterated that the crisis between Qatar and a Saudi-led Arab alliance would only be resolved with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), even as the Qatar emir claimed that the Gulf state was ready for talks to resolve the crisis.
Al Jubeir made the remarks on Friday in Rome, after meeting with his Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano, Xinhua reported. Al Jubeir said the Saudi-led bloc, which also includes the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, hopes Qatar would accept and commit to six principles it has tabled. The principles include demands for Doha to commit to fighting terrorism and extremism and preventing their financing, prohibit inciting propaganda against its neighbours, and stop interfering in their internal affairs.
Al Jubeir’s call came on the same day that Qatar’s Emir Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani aired his first public comments since the crisis began. “We are open to dialogue to find solutions to lingering problems within the framework of respect for the sovereignty and will of each state as mutual undertakings and joint commitments binding all,” Shaikh Tamim said in a televised speech late on Friday night.
He added that Qatar was not afraid of identifying and correcting errors, and that the crisis has helped the emirate to identify shortcomings. “The phase that Qatar is going through is very significant in terms of opportunities not only to build, but to fill gaps and correct mistakes,” Shaikh Tamim said. “We are not afraid to analyse a mistake and correct it.”
Shaikh Tamim said Qatar was willing to take part in a dialogue to find solutions to the disputes, and that he hoped Kuwait’s efforts at mediation would succeed. He also reiterated his government’s stance that it is “fighting terrorism relentlessly and without compromises.”
The address came hours after the UAE welcomed Qatar’s move to amend its counterterrorism laws as a positive step toward addressing some of the demands.
Qatar announced an emiri decree on Thursday establishing two nominal lists of individuals and terrorist entities, and the requirements for being included in them. It also defined terrorists, terrorist crimes, terrorist entities as well as the financing of terrorism. The decree follows the signing on July 11 of a US-Qatar agreement to combat terror funding during a visit to Doha by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — an agreement that was dismissed by the Saudi-led bloc as “insufficient”.
“The Qatari decree to amend the antiterrorism law is a positive step to deal seriously with the 59 terrorists,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash tweeted on Friday night.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain designated dozens of people with links to Qatar as terrorists, including Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousuf Al Qaradawi, and 12 entities, among them Qatari-funded charities. The changes Qatar announced to its anti-terror legislation amend an earlier law published in 2004 but Thursday’s decree did not provide details of the exact nature of the revisions.
“The pressure of the crisis has started to bear fruit, and the wiser course would be changing the whole orientation,” Gargash added. But Gargash also repeated his demands for Qatar to reorient its policies in order to ease the crisis with its Arab neighbours. “It would be wiser [for Qatar] to totally change its [political] orientation,” he said.
The development comes days before Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was due to visit Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to try to resolve the rift.
In Washington, Tillerson praised Qatar’s latest “positive movement” on counterterrorism. The Qataris have been “very aggressive” in implementing the agreement, Tillerson told reporters Friday before his meeting with visiting Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf Bin Alawi in Washington. He also said that Qatar has indicated “a willingness” to sit with the four countries and “discuss the demands”, Xinhua News Agency reported.
A Saudi royal court adviser described Shaikh Tamim’s speech as a piece of literary work written by a school student. “Had it been written by a student in middle school he would have flunked,” Saud Al Qahtani wrote on his Twitter account. Commentators at Al Arabiya television also denounced the speech. “This is a speech of obstinacy which sends messages that Qatar will not stop supporting terrorism,” said Ali Al Naimi.