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Qatar Says Neighbors' Demands Have Nothing To Do With Terror

Kuwait has given Qatar a list of demands from Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations that includes shutting down Al-Jazeera and cutting diplomatic ties to Iran.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have sent a 13-point list of demands apparently aimed at dismantling their tiny but wealthy neighbor's two decade-old interventionist foreign policy which has incensed them.

The Iran provisions in the document say Qatar must close diplomatic posts in Iran, expel any members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard, and only conduct trade and commerce with Tehran that complies with US and worldwide sanctions.

Qataris who spoke to Reuters described the demands as unreasonable, particularly the closure of Jazeera, which millions of Arabs see as an important outlet for voices willing to challenge the region's authoritarian rulers, but which neighboring governments call a conduit for Islamist propaganda.

The ambassador declined to comment further on Qatar's view of the demands, saying authorities in the capital of Doha were still weighing how best to respond. The demands were also likely to elicit Qatari objections that its neighbors are trying to dictate its sovereign affairs by imposing such far-reaching requirements.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had urged the Saudi-led alliance to produce a "reasonable and actionable" list of demands for Qatar.

The United States has already called for an earlier end to the crisis, citing it damages its counterterrorism operations against IS terrorists in Syria and Iraq as Qatar hosts a major USA military base in the region.

Four Arab states which have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar have delivered a list of demands the Gulf state must comply with in order to end the current crisis.

"The demands are so aggressive that it makes it close to impossible to now see a resolution of that conflict", Olivier Jakob, a strategist at Switzerland-based oil consultancy Petromatrix, said.

Qatar must also announce it is severing ties with terrorist, ideological and sectarian organisations including the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Jabhat Fateh al Sham, formerly al Qaeda's branch in Syria, he said, and surrender all designated terrorists on its territory. The Arab countries signaled that if Qatar refuses to comply by the 10-day deadline, they will continue to restrict its access to land, sea and air routes indefinitely amid mounting economic pressure on the Persian Gulf nation.

The list could be a non-starter as the Qatari government has said it will not negotiate unless the Arab neighbors lift their blockade first.

Qatar also must hand over "terrorist figures" and "wanted individuals" from the four Arab countries to their countries of origin, freeze their assets, and stop providing any future sanctuary to any outlawed members, the list says.

Qatar vehemently denies funding or supporting extremism. Under the 2015 nuclear deal, nuclear-related sanctions on Iran were eased but other sanctions remain in place.

Not only must Qatar shut down the Doha-based satellite broadcaster, the list says, but also all of its affiliates. Qatar shares a massive offshore natural gas field with Iran which supplies the small nation that will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup its wealth. That presumably would mean Qatar would have to close down Al-Jazeera's English-language sister network. It added that Qatar must be monitored annually within next 10 years for compliance of the list even Doha accepts the demands.

There's also a demand for Qatar to stop funding other news outlets, including Arabi21, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Middle East Eye. They returned eight months later after Qatar took some steps against Brotherhood members.



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