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Gulf states hint at expulsion of Qatar from regional bloc

The Gulf states who cut ties with Qatar last month have given their strongest hint yet that they plan to expel Qatar from the Gulf Cooperation Council

17 July 2017, 8:27am
UAE foreign affairs minister Anwar Gargash
UAE foreign affairs minister Anwar Gargash
The Gulf states who cut ties with Qatar last month have given their strongest hint yet that they plan to expel Qatar from the Gulf Cooperation Council, the regional trade and security group.

In a speech due to be delivered in London on Monday, the United Arab Emirates foreign minister, Anwar Gargash, will warn: “You cannot be part of a regional organisation dedicated to strengthening mutual security and furthering mutual interests, and at the same time undermine that security and harm those interests. You cannot be both our friend and the friend of al-Qaida”.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed sanctions on Qatar on 5 June, cutting diplomatic and transport ties, accusing it of financing extremist groups and allying with Iran. Doha denies the accusations.

He will insist the six-week long boycott of Qatar is starting to work and reject the suggestion the four anti-Qatar allies have miscalculated, by claiming that Doha is already making concessions.

“We need a regional solution and international monitoring. We need to be certain that Qatar, a state with $300 billion in reserves, is no longer an official or unofficial sponsor of jihadist and terrorist causes,” he will say.

Gargash will claim a direct result of the blockade’s pressure is Qatar’s private promises to western powers that it will review the list of 59 extremists the UAE claims are in Doha. The UAE also wants the individuals arrested or expelled, along with 12 named organisations.

Gargash hailed Qatar’s decision last week to sign a memorandum of understanding on terrorist financing with the US as “a positive development” by the foreign minister.

Washington Washington and Doha signed the agreement as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Qatar on a three-day tour of Gulf-Arab countries to try to end a month-long rift between Western-allied Arab states.

However, the four Arab powers have said the memorandum fell short of allaying their concerns, that their sanctions would remain in place until Doha meets their demands and that they would keep a close eye on Qatar's efforts to fight terrorism funding.

“We do see signs now, however, that our pressure is working,” Gargash said. “We are ready for this process to take a long time.”

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