Arab diplomatic crisis deepens with new terror-related sanctions

Residents of a Qatari-funded housing complex hold a banner reading, "we are all Qatar," during a solidarity demonstration in front of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani's mosque in Khan Younis, Gaza, on Friday. Photo by Ibrahim Khatib/UPI

June 9 (UPI) — Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies have targeted dozens of organizations and individuals with new terror-related sanctions — escalating a diplomatic crisis in the Middle East, particularly with Qatar.

The sanctions target dozens of organizations and nearly 60 individuals with purported links to militant groups. Many of those sanctioned are from Qatar.

The new sanctions come as many Gulf allies continue to single out Qatar for alleged ties to terrorist groups. Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates formally cut diplomatic ties with the small Arab nation.

The Saudi Press Agency on Monday accused Qatari officials of repeatedly violating “their international obligations and the agreements they signed under the umbrella of the Gulf Cooperation Council for Arab States to cease hostilities against [Saudi Arabia] and stand against terrorist activities.”

Following the new sanctions Friday, Qatar dismissed the latest crackdown as an act of political grandstanding.

“The latest statement confirms the insistence of the aforementioned countries in continuing their policy of making false accusations and promoting lies against the state of Qatar without taking the facts, legal considerations, brotherly ties, or the joint destiny of the region into account,” Qatar’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement. “This comes at a time when the region is facing many challenges that all will pay a price for if they pursue a method of hostility and merging of fantasy with reality.”

Included on the sanctions list are the Qatar and Eid charities and several high-profile figures that include businessmen, politicians and members of the ruling family.

“We do not, have not and will not support terrorist groups,” Qatar’s government said. “[The] ‘terror finance watchlist’ once again reinforces baseless allegations that hold no foundation in fact.

“Our position on countering terrorism is stronger than many of the signatories of the joint statement – a fact that has been conveniently ignored by the authors.”

Qatar has appealed to the U.S. government and President Donald Trump to help end the ongoing crisis.

“We believe in his ability to calm this crisis down,” Qatar’s ambassador to the United States, Meshal bin Hamad al-Thani, told the Financial Times. “We are courageous enough to acknowledge if things need to be amended.”

Trump suggested this week that he supported the Saudi government and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson echoed that position Friday.

“We call on Qatar to be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors” to combat extremism,” he said. “This process requires regional and global consensus and mutual understanding.”


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