Qatar has been granted a 48-hour extension to a demand deadline from its Gulf neighbours in the feud over allegations that it has been supporting terrorism and of being an ally of regional foe Iran.
The request came via neutral Kuwait which has been acting as a mediator.
Qatar has called the charges baseless and said the stiff demands – including closing Qatar-based al Jazeera TV and ejecting Turkish troops based there – were made to be rejected.
It’s not clear if Doha will eventually reject the ultimatum which says it must comply with a list of demands or face fresh sanctions. Qatar claims its an attempt to curtail its sovereignty.
“Qatar is not an easy country to be swallowed by anyone. We are ready, we stand ready to defend our country. I hope that we don’t come to a stage where, you know, a military intervention is, is made. But, we always stand ready. We are here to defend our country,” said Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah, Qatari Defence Minister:
The feud erupted last month when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt all severed diplomatic and travel ties. Besides the 13 demands, the four countries have threatened more sanctions if Qatar does not comply.
The US State Department, which is an ally of all countries involved, has endorsed Kuwait’s role as a mediator and called for both sides in the dispute to exercise restraint.