US mediation
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The noise of Saudi-led Qatar boycott is reverberating in the region and beyond as the need for mediation and protection is being felt. The country under the hammer, Qatar, has shown defiance and resolve as the crisis deepens.

The simmering crisis has compelled arbitration efforts. President Trump has offered to mediate in the crisis. Doha’s envoy to the US Hamad Al Thani has reposed trust in the President to resolve the crisis.

President Trump, in a phone call to the Qatari Emir, offered his conciliatory efforts. He went as far as inviting the concerned parties to the White House for talks.

“We believe in his ability to calm this crisis down,” Mr. Al Thani said of Mr. Trump, who has spoken to Qatari, Saudi, and UAE leaders in the past two days. “We are courageous enough to acknowledge if things need to be amended.”

Trump had earlier taken to Twitter to lend his support to Saudi Arabia.

Read more: The Gulf tightening its noose: What are Qatar’s real options?

“During my recent trip to the Middle East, I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!” he tweeted.

He further tweeted, “good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding… extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”

However, he took a turn and, in a phone call to the Qatari Emir, offered his conciliatory efforts. He went as far as inviting the concerned parties to the White House for talks. This was done owing to the importance of Qatar for the US military as it is home to the Ul Ubeid Airbase under the US CENTCOM.

Earlier on Thursday, a joint statement released by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the UAE has placed 59 individuals and 12 organizations – Qatar-based or funded by Qatar – on a “terror list”.

Doha’s top diplomat said that his country can withstand economic pressure from the Saudi-led coalition, showing a great deal of defiance.

“This is in light of its commitment to fighting terrorism, drying up the sources of the funding of terrorism, combatting extremist ideology and the instruments of spreading and publicizing it, joint action to end it and fortify societies from it,” the statement read.

The statement further added, “as a result of the continued violation of the authorities in Doha of the commitments and agreements it signed, including the commitment to not support or shelter elements or groups that threaten the security of countries.”

The list includes Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousuf al-Qaradawi. While the Qataris on the list include businessmen and politicians.

Read more: US-Saudi games in the Middle East: Will Qatar bow down to the GCC states?

On Monday, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar, causing fissures in the powerful Gulf consortium ostensibly for its alleged support to terrorism. Egypt also accused Qatar of espousing anti-Egyptian forces and ended diplomatic relations with Doha. The quartet has been joined by other countries like Yemen, Libya, Mauritania, and Maldives. Jordan also downgraded its diplomatic representation in Doha.

However, in a detailed interview, Doha’s top diplomat said that his country can withstand economic pressure from the Saudi-led coalition, showing a great deal of defiance.

Foreign Minister Muhammad Al Thani said that only 16 percent of Qatar’s food imports came through the now-closed land border crossing with Saudi Arabia “and it has been replaced already.” He emphatically said, “we can live forever like this.”

He added that Qatar would maintain its independent foreign policy and would not cave-in to pressure. “We are not ready to surrender, and will never be ready to surrender, the independence of our foreign policy,” he said.

The Saudi Cabinet asserted that the decision to cut off diplomatic and consular ties with Qatar was in the purview of the Kingdom’s sovereign rights guaranteed by international law.

This confidence could very well be attributed to support from Turkey and Iran. Iran has offered food supplies and has offered three of its port to Qatar.While Turkey has come out in full support of Doha. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has good relations with Qatar and both countries have backed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as well as rebels fighting to uproot Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Erdogan called upon Arab countries not to isolate the country and offered mediation, but on Wednesday, Turkey affirmed its support for Doha.

Turkey’s parliament accelerated approval of legislation allowing Turkish troops to be deployed to Ankara’s military base in Qatar and increasing military training and cooperation.

The anti-Qatar alliance standing firm

It is quite evident that Saudi Arabia is leading the crusade against Qatar and it has made its views clear.

Read more: Turkish troops march for Qatar’s support: Escalation in the Gulf crisis?

The Saudi Cabinet asserted that the decision to cut off diplomatic and consular ties with Qatar was in the purview of the Kingdom’s sovereign rights guaranteed by international law. It said that the step was taken to protect the Kingdom’s national security against the threats of terrorism and extremism.

The Cabinet in its weekly meeting chaired by King Salman affirmed that Saudi Arabia took this decision due to the grave violations committed by Qatari authorities overtly and covertly through the previous years, aiming to drive a wedge in the Saudi domestic ranks.
The Cabinet added that Doha instigated people to disobey the state and breach Saudi sovereignty by securing sanctuaries for various terrorist and sectarian groups trying to subvert the region’s stability.

“We want to see Qatar implement the promises it made a few years back with regard its support of extremist groups, regards its hostile media and interference in affairs of other countries,” said the Saudi foreign minister on Tuesday.

US mediation is more likely to favor the Kingdom as it is not wrong to argue that KSA was emboldened by Trump’s words against Iran and its supporters.

UAE has stepped up its drive against Qatar, imposing punitive measures upon citizens who sympathize with Qatar. The UAE has been joined by Bahrain whose interior ministry announced the same measures on Thursday.

“Any expression of sympathy with the government of Qatar or opposition to the measures taken by the government of Bahrain, whether through social media, Twitter or any other form of communication, is a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine,” said the interior ministry.

UAE has upped the verbal diatribe against Qatar saying that the country has been found complicit in subversive activities. In an exclusive interview with RT News, UAE’s Federal Minister Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi came down hard to the tiny Gulf country.

Read more: Saudi-UAE campaign against Qatar: Muslim nations forced to choose sides

“The red line crossed by the Qatar authorities is obvious. This is support for terrorism, support for terrorist groups and the stationing of radical groups on Qatari territory… In relations, with us, Qatar pursues a policy that contradicts the positions that our states maintain,” he said.

The crisis has been internationalized. US mediation is more likely to favor the Kingdom as it is not wrong to argue that KSA was emboldened by Trump’s words against Iran and its supporters. With Trump’s initial backing of the Qatar squeeze, the Saudi government and its allies got the cushion which they needed. The US will balk an invasion of Qatar but with Iran firmly on the back of Doha, Washington will not espouse the regime in Qatar, which analysts opine can be changed.

In another development, Russia said Sheikh Mohammed would fly to Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on Saturday. This could give the Qatar crisis a new and even more dangerous international dimension. The Middle East is set to enter another long-drawn crisis, if not a conflict.

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