EghtesadOnline: Qatar is falling short in its efforts to counter terrorism, the Saudi-led alliance said, an apparent setback to U.S. mediation efforts after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged the bloc to ease its seven-week boycott of the Persian Gulf nation.
The group also added nine organizations based in Yemen and Libya as well as nine people from Qatar, Kuwait, Yemen and Libya to the list of alleged terrorist groups it accuses the Gulf nation of supporting, according to a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency. Three charitable organizations in Yemen and three media-related entities in Libya were also put on the list, Bloomberg reported.
Recent steps taken by Qatar, including a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. on anti-terrorism measures as well as amending its own domestic anti-terror law, had created some optimism that an agreement to end the Gulf crisis could be reached. Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said his country is open to talks to end the standoff as long as its sovereignty is respected, while both the U.S. and U.K. both called for an end to the boycott.
There had been hopes that the steps taken by Qatar might lead to “de-escalation,” said Graham Griffiths, an analyst at Control Risks in Dubai. The announcement shows the countries in the bloc are “digging their heels and seeking to not let Tillerson’s visit be a pretext to de-escalate or enter into direct negotiations.”
On Friday, Tillerson called on the group to end the campaign as “a sign of good faith” and said the U.S was satisfied with Qatar’s efforts in implementing the anti-terrorism agreement signed during his Doha trip. Britain later joined his call, with U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Sunday welcoming Qatar’s “commitment to combat terrorism” and expressing hope for the start of “substantive discussions on remaining differences.”
The alliance, which also includes the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar on June 5, accusing the country of supporting Sunni extremist groups and Iranian-backed Shiite militants. Qatar denies the charge and says the move was an attempt by Saudi Arabia to impose its will on smaller nations in the Gulf.
Qatar’s benchmark stock index dropped 0.4 percent at 12:25 p.m. in Doha.
The crisis pits U.S. allies against each other in a power struggle over regional influence. Saudi Arabia has strong counterterrorism ties with the U.S. and is a top customer for American weapons. Qatar hosts the regional headquarters for U.S. Central Command, which includes a state-of-the-art air base the Pentagon depends on to target Islamic State.
The standoff started shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Riyadh in May. The president initially sided with the Saudi-led action before giving Tillerson the authority to help resolve the dispute.
Saudis and Emirati officials “counted more on Trump’s backing of them during this crisis as opposed to the State Department and the Pentagon’s more neutral stance,” said Griffiths.
Qatar must move swiftly to pursue the groups and individuals mentioned in both the revised list and the previous one, the Saudi bloc said in the statement. The campaign will continue until Qatar meets the group’s demands in full, it said.