Saudi Arabia and its allies meet in Cairo on Wednesday (July 5) to discuss whether to continue with sanctions they imposed on Qatar on claims it supports terrorism.
Doha denies the accusations. It has submitted, via mediator Kuwait, replies to its neighbours’ 13 demands, which it has called “unrealistic” and aimed at curtailing its sovereignty.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain severed diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar a month ago, threatening supplies of food and other essential goods in the small Gulf state. The dispute has raised concern across the Middle East and beyond – Western states in particular fear that any political instability could upset vital energy supply chains in the region.
On Tuesday, Germany’s foreign minister urged the four countries to show the same spirit of restraint as Qatar did in responding to the blockade.
Speaking during a joint press conference in Doha with his Qatari counterpart, Sigmar Gabriel said Germany and Europe were ready to help set up the international resolution mechanisms needed to foster dialogue, since Germany had a strong interest in the region and wanted to see its supply chains protected.
“The state of Qatar has adopted a very constructive attitude since the crisis. We tried to act in a mature and responsible manner rather than doing any irresponsible acts as the act of aggressors who launched an aggression against my country,” said Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.
However, Doha mounted what appeared to be a show of strength on Tuesday, when the state-owned Qatar Petroleum announced plans to raise its Liquified Natural Gas production (LNG) capacity by 30 percent – suggesting it’s preparing for a protracted dispute. The immediate effect will be to worsen a glut on the LNG market where Australia, the United States and Russia compete.
The Saudi Ambassador to Sudan Ali Hassan Jaafar, speaking at a news conference, said he hoped the Gulf crisis would end “in the coming hours” with the Qatari response to demands.
“We wish well for the people of Qatar and we hope that the rulers of Qatar return to their senses,” he said. “We want stability in the Gulf region and in the Arab region. If these demands are not fulfilled we will defend our security and stability and there will be other measures.”