The bloc of nations led by Saudi Arabia have released a set of six principles for Qatar to comply with to end the current stand-off in the region.
Qatar has not directly responded to the principles but has said that it is open to dialogue with its estranged Gulf neighbours.
. The country has remained isolated as its air, sea, and land links have been blocked. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt alleged that Qatar sponsored terrorism in the region – a charge denied by Qatar.
The four nations then presented Qatar with a set of 13 demands. The nations had said that these demands were not negotiable at the time and Qatar ignored the deadline that had been set. Among the demands, the nations wanted Qatar to shut down Al Jazeera, the state-funded broadcaster in Doha. They also asked Qatar to cut down its ties with Iran.
The new set of principles were released after US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson visited the region urging for a resolution. During his visit, US and Qatar signed an agreement to fight terrorism but the Saudis said that this commitment wasn’t enough to end the current conflict.
In these new principles, the Saudi-led bloc has dropped its demand calling for the shut down of Al Jazeera. Saudi Arabia's UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said, “If the only way to achieve that is by closing down Al-Jazeera, fine. If we can achieve that without closing down Al-Jazeera, that's also fine. The important thing is the objective and the principle involved." The nations want Qatar to comply fully with Riyadh Agreement of 2013.
Qatar has not directly addressed these demands. The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, however, has said that the country was ready to negotiate with the four nations. He noted that any talks regarding this matter would have to respect the Qatar’s sovereignty.
Meanwhile, Egypt has remained steadfast with its commitment to the blockade and said that it refuses to “backtrack.” Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan had also visited Qatar in hopes of mediating a resolution but the two-day visit ended with no sign of progress.
These are the six principles:
1. Commitment to combat extremism and terrorism in all its forms and to prevent their financing or the provision of safe havens.
2. Prohibiting all acts of incitement and all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred and violence.
3. Full commitment to Riyadh Agreement 2013 and the supplementary agreement and its executive mechanism for 2014 within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for Arab States.
4. Commitment to all the outcomes of the Arab-Islamic-US Summit held in Riyadh in May 2017.
5. To refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of States and from supporting illegal entities.
6. The responsibility of all States of international community to confront all forms of extremism and terrorism as a threat to international peace and security.
Our assessment is that it will be important for Saudi and its allies to further tone down their demands and provide Qatar with an honorable exit. This looks to be difficult with the king leaving the Crown Price, Mohammed bin Salman in-charge. It is also surprising that the king has taken a holiday amidst this problem.