Middle East

Blockade against Qatar amounts to ‘bloodless declaration of war’: Minister

Qatar says the Saudi-led blockade against Doha is a “bloodless declaration of war,” a day after the Persian Gulf Arab country rejected as “unreasonable” the demands presented by Saudi Arabia and its allies to end the unprecedented diplomatic row with the emirate.

Qatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah made the remarks in an interview with the UK-based Arabic-language al-Araby al-Jadeed newspaper published on Friday.

He added that what Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt had done against Qatar, including closing the land, sea and air borders, were in fact “harming the citizens and damaging the social fabric” of the Persian Gulf.

Attiyah arrived in the Turkish capital Ankara to hold talks with his Turkish counterpart Fikri Isik and the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the issue of a Turkish base in Qatar.

“Qatar and Turkey maintain historic ties and my visit comes in the context of boosting defense cooperation between the two countries,” Attiyah said in Ankara.

The unprecedented crisis in the Persian Gulf region unfolded on June 5, when Riyadh, Manama and Cairo cut ties with Doha, officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism” and destabilizing the region. Qatar, however, has slammed the measures as unjustified, saying they are based on false claims and assumptions.

On June 24, Qatar officially announced that the four countries had sent it a list of 13 wide-ranging demands and given it 10 days to comply with them or face unspecified consequences.

The demands include shutting down the Doha-based Al Jazeera broadcaster, scaling back cooperation with Iran, closing the Turkish military base in Qatar, and paying an unspecified sum in reparations. Qatar later said the demands were “unrealistic, unreasonable and unacceptable.”

To further pressure Qatar, Saudi Arabia has totally closed its land border with its tiny neighbor, through which much of Qatar’s food supply crossed. Iran and Turkey are now providing Qatar’s required food supplies.

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