Saudi Arabia demands Qatar close Al Jazeera, sever ties with Iran

The Gulf crisis escalated late Thursday, as Kuwait, acting as a mediator, presented Qatar with a 13-point list of demands from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt.

A copy of the document – obtained and translated by the Associated Press – instructs officials in Doha to sever diplomatic ties with Iran, shut down state broadcaster Al Jazeera, and close a Turkish military base in the country.

The Saudi-led bloc moved to isolate Qatar earlier this month, imposing an air and naval blockade on June 5 in retaliation for the state’s alleged cooperation with extremist groups including the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Daesh, al-Qaeda, and their splinter factions. 

The Qataris have vehemently denied the allegations; however, they once admitted to providing certain organizations – namely Palestine’s Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas – refuge for the sake of promoting dialogue and soothing tensions.

Doha has not yet issued a formal response to the demands, but government representatives have previously stated negotiations cannot begin until the Arab coalition lifts its sanction regime. Moreover, the mere notion of shuttering al-Jazeera – and its multiple affiliates – was deemed out of the question.

With regard to Iran, Qatar is being told to deport any and all members of the country’s Revolutionary Guard and limit commercial interactions to those that comply with U.S. mandates.

In addition, the country must locate and extradite all individuals currently facing terrorism charges in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the other signatory states.

Perhaps the strictest directives, however, call Qatar to pledge military, political, and economic allegiance to the Gulf Cooperation Council ( مجلس التعاون الخليجي), a regional partnership that has worked aggressively to combat Iranian influence throughout the Arab world, and pay unspecified compensation for prior destabilizing, bad acts.

The document allegedly ends with a warning that the “requirements must be met within 10 days from the date of delivery or they will considered void.”  

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Peter Rothpletz
Peter Rothpletz is an American writer and contributor to the Mail & Guardian. An alumnus of Yale University's Journalism Initiative, he primarily reports on international affairs, civil conflict, and radical extremism.

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