Doha, July 2: Qatar hitting back at Saudi and other countries said it does not fear any military retaliation for refusing to meet a Monday deadline to comply with a list of 13 demands from four Arab states that have imposed an economic blockade on the Gulf nation.
Qatar’s foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani who is on a visit to Rome again rejected the demands as a breach of Qatar’s sovereignty. The minister said any country is free to raise grievances with Qatar, provided they have proof, but said any such conflicts should be worked out through negotiation, not by imposing demands, ultimatums etc.
“We believe that the world is governed by international laws, that doesn't allow big countries to bully small countries,” Qatar’s foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told a press conference in Italy. “No one has the right to issue to a sovereign country an ultimatum.”
Al Thani further rejected the demands strongly and said they were never meant to be accepted. “There is no fear of whatever action would be taken, Qatar is prepared to face whatever consequences,” he said. “But as I have mentioned there is an international law that should not be violated and there is a border that should not be crossed,” Al-Thani concluded.
Interestingly, four Arab countries including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain boycotting Qatar over alleged support for terrorism have sent Doha a list of 13 demands including closing Al Jazeera television and reducing ties to their regional adversary Iran. On the other side, Qatar denied all their allegations saying that they never supported Islamist militants and Shi'ite Iran.
List of demands by Saudi Arabia, other Arab nations:
1) Scale down diplomatic ties with Iran and close the Iranian diplomatic missions in Qatar, expel members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard and cut off military and intelligence cooperation with Iran. Trade and commerce with Iran must comply with the US and international sanctions in a manner that does not jeopardise the security of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
2) Immediately shut down the Turkish military base that is currently being built, and halt military cooperation with Turkey inside Qatari territories.
3) Sever all ties to all the "terrorist, sectarian and ideological organizations," specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIL, al-Qaeda, Fateh Al-Sham (formerly known as Nusra Front) and Lebanon's Hezbollah. Qatar needs to formally declare those entities as terrorist groups based on the list of groups that was announced by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt, and concur with all future updates of this list.
4) Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organizations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, US and other countries.
5) Hand over "terrorist figures," fugitives and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.
6) Shut down Al Jazeera Network and its affiliate stations.
7) End interference in sovereign countries' internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries' laws.
8) Qatar has to pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other financial losses caused by Qatar's policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.
9) Qatar must align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.
10) Submit all personal details of all the opposition members that Qatar supported and detail all support that Qatar has provided them in the past. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar's prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.
11) Shut down all news outlets that it funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al Jadeed, Mekameleen and Middle East Eye, etc.
12) Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid.
13) Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.