Defiant Qatar claims it can withstand blockade
As we reported last month, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain have broken diplomatic ties with Qatar claiming that it supported terrorist and sectarian groups.
Effectively blockading the Gulf State, the coalition of countries demanded that Qatar close the broadcaster Al Jazeera, scale back co-operation with Iran, remove Turkish troops from its soil and end contact with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
Despite being faced with the threat of further economic sanctions as the deadline set for its response was first extended and then passed, Qatar rejected all 13 demands.
With Qatar’s border with Saudi Arabia being its sole land link to the rest of the world, and a key route for food imports, the country has been relying on Turkey and Iran delivering supplies.
However, energy exports from Qatar, which is the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, have not been affected.
Speaking in London, the Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said: “What we’ve done in the last few weeks is develop different alternative for ways to ensure the supply chain for the country not to be cut off.”
He poured scorn on threats to expel Qatar from the trade and security bloc, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) arguing that decisions could only be taken by the GCC by consensus and suggesting that not all the members would support the Saudi and UAE call.
Qatar’s Trade and Economy Minister, Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, said: “All supply chains, either by air or sea are working smoothly — it’s business as usual.”