TEHRAN, June 6, YJC - Qatar has expressed “regret and utter surprise” over the move by a number of Arab states to close their borders and airspace and sever diplomatic relations with Doha, stressing that the Persian Gulf kingdom has been subjected to a campaign of lies.
TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -
Qatar's Foreign Ministry, in a statement published on Monday, announced that the decisions by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to cut diplomatic ties were unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.
"Qatar has been the target of a systematic incitement campaign that promoted outright lies, which indicates that there was a prior intent to harm the state," the statement said.
It further reaffirmed Doha’s dedication to the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, stressing that Qatar respected the sovereignty of all other member states and had not interfered in their domestic affairs.
"Qatar is also dedicated to its obligation in the war on terrorism and extremism. It is clear that the media campaign against Qatar has failed, especially in Gulf nations, which explains this escalation," the statement pointed out.
It added, "The fabrication of a media crisis used to increase pressure against Qatar is evidence that there are no legitimate causes to take the decision to cut ties."
"The goal is clear, enforcing guardianship over our country which is a blatant violation of our sovereignty, which is completely unacceptable. The statement released by the three GCC nations makes it clear that the relentless fabricated media campaign against Qatar was pre-planned.”
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain all cut off diplomatic contact with Qatar on Monday morning, after officially accusing it of "sponsoring terrorism.” The administration of Saudi-backed and resigned Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Libya and the Maldives later joined the camp in ending diplomatic ties.
Russia, Pakistan, India not to cut Qatar ties
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Moscow had no intention to meddle in the Arab states’ decision to break off diplomatic relations with Qatar.
"Russia’s position is that the current diplomatic rift in the Persian Gulf region is a concern of each country involved,” Lavrov said, adding that while Russia does not rule out the occurrence of disputes, the country is "never happy” to see problems in relations between states.
"We are interested in keeping good relations with everyone, especially in the region, where the most important thing is to focus all efforts on fighting the common threat, which is that of international terrorism,” the Russian foreign minister said.
Lavrov also had a phone conservation with his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, on Monday, calling for resolution of differences between Qatar and other Arab states through talks, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters that a "stable and peaceful” situation in the Persian Gulf was in Russia's interest, hoping that the current diplomatic row between Qatar and Arab states would not influence "the common determination and resolve in the joint fight against international terrorism.”
Indian Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also said that New Delhi would not be impacted by some Persian Gulf countries cutting off diplomatic ties with Qatar.
"There is no challenge arising out of this for us. This is an internal matter of GCC. Our only concern is about Indians there. We are trying to find out if any Indians are stuck there," she told reporters.
Separately, a spokesman for the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said on Monday that Islamabad had no immediate plans to sever diplomatic ties with Doha.
"At the moment there is nothing on Qatar issue, (we) will issue a statement if some development takes place,” Nafees Zakaria said.
Turkey says ready for mediation
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that Ankara wanted a peaceful solution to the diplomatic rift between Arab states and Qatar.
"It's a development that really saddened all of us. There could be problems between the countries but dialogue must prevail in all circumstances,” he said at a joint press conference in Ankara with his German counterpart, Sigmar Gabriel.
Cavusoglu underlined that Ankara was ready to do its best to help resolve the dispute.
Arab League head regrets spat between Qatar, Arab states
In another development on Monday, Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit regretted suspension of diplomatic relations between Qatar and regional Arab states.
"Aboul Gheit is sorry things reached this point between several Arab states and is concerned about the ramifications these differences will have on joint Arab work," his office said in a statement.
Aboul Gheit also expressed hope that Arab states would overcome their differences and present a united front against common threats to their national security.
He called on all sides to return to agreements reached in 2014, the last time matters between Qatar and its neighbors had reached a tipping point, Reuters reported.
Qatar tells citizens to leave UAE in 14 days
The developments come as the Qatari Embassy in Abu Dhabi has called on citizens to leave the UAE within 14 days to comply with the UAE’s decision to break off relations with Doha.
"Qatari citizens must leave the UAE within 14 days, in accordance with the statement issued by the concerned Emirati parties. Those who cannot travel directly to Doha should go through Kuwait or Oman,” the Embassy tweeted.
Saudi Arabia shuts down Qatar’s Al-Jazeera office
In a separate development, Saudi Arabia on Monday shut the local office of Qatar's Al-Jazeera news channel amid escalation of tensions between two Persian Gulf states.
"The Ministry of Information closed the office of the Al-Jazeera channel and withdrew the license it was granted,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
The kingdom accused the Qatari channel of promoting "terrorist groups."
Separately, beIN Sports, a subsidiary satellite network of Al-Jazeera, went offline in the United Arab Emirates, Reuters quoted an official in the UAE.
"We are getting a lot of calls regarding this... (the channels) are currently off air in the UAE,” said an official at the DU telecommunications company, without elaborating as to why.
More reactions pour in
Furthermore, some Egyptian banks have halted transactions with Qatari financial institutions in light of Cairo's announcement that it had cut ties with Qatar.
Four unnamed Cairo-based bankers said there had been no official communication to banks from the Central Bank of Egypt, and the cessation of dealings with Qatari banks came on internal orders from management.
Some banks even stopped accepting Qatari Riyal, while others froze some treasury transactions. They, however, excluded the opening of letters of credit required for imports.
Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris also asked compatriot businessmen to withdraw their investments from Qatar, and put an end to business dealings with the Persian Gulf state.
Additionally, Egypt's flag carrier, EgyptAir, joined the UAE's Etihad, Emirates and FlyDubai airlines in suspending flights to the capital of Qatar after their countries cut off diplomatic ties with Doha.
Also on Monday, the Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah movement expelled Qatar from the military alliance, alleging Doha’s support of "al-Qaeda and Daesh, as well as dealing with militias.”
The administration of Saudi-backed and resigned Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi later supported the expulsion, accusing Qatar of "dealing with militias and supporting extremist groups in Yemen.”
Saudi Arabia has been leading an invasion of Yemen from the air, land, and sea since March 2015 in an attempt to reinstate Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, and to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement. The Riyadh regime has, however, failed to reach its goals despite suffering great expense.
The military aggression has claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people, mostly civilians, raising concerns among international rights organizations and the United Nations.
Those organizations have been repeatedly calling on Saudi Arabia and its partners in the war to end the indiscriminate targeting of areas in Yemen, Presstv reported.
The aggressor regimes have also imposed a total embargo on Yemen, causing severe shortages of food and medicine. A recent cholera epidemic has been blamed on those shortages.
Separately, the Maldives defended its measure to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar.
"The Maldives took the decision because of its firm opposition to activities that encourage terrorism and extremism,” the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago nation said in a statement.