EghtesadOnline: A phone call between the leaders of Qatar and Saudi Arabia to help defuse a three-month political crisis ended up causing a fresh spat.
The conversation between Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was reported by the official news services in both countries in the early hours of Saturday. Sheikh Tamim made the call and “expressed his desire” to start a dialogue to discuss the demands of the four countries boycotting Qatar, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
But shortly after the statement, according to Bloomberg, the kingdom dismissed Qatar’s claim that U.S. President Donald Trump helped coordinate the call and said it will suspend talks until a clarification is issued. “The call was at the request of Qatar to discuss its desire to talk to the four countries about their demands,” SPA reported.
The fresh dispute underscores the depth of the crisis that broke out in June when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar, an unprecedented move in the history of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. The Saudi-led bloc accuses Qatar of backing terrorism and has presented Sheikh Tamim with 13 demands that include shutting down Al Jazeera television and scaling back ties with Iran. Qatar denies the charges and says the boycott is an attempt to undermine its sovereignty.
Qatar’s version of events “shows that it has yet to understand that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not ready to tolerate altering agreements and facts,” the Saudi official said.
Friday’s phone call took place after a separate conversation between Sheikh Tamim and Trump. The president also called Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed, according to SPA, but it wasn’t clear whether he made that call before or after the new dispute.
Trump has stepped up his efforts to resolve the crisis, which pits close U.S. allies against each other. “I do believe we will solve it ,” he told a White House news conference with the emir of Kuwait, Shiekh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah on Sept. 7. “If we don’t solve it, I will be a mediator right here in the White House” and “we will have something very quickly.”
The spat broke out shortly after Trump visited Saudi Arabia in May, where he called for concerted action against terrorism and accused Iran, which has close relations with Qatar, of fueling instability in the region. Trump has urged all parties in the Qatar dispute to find a diplomatic resolution that in line with commitments made between the Arab leaders and Trump during his visit.