Abu Dhabi (AFP) – The United Arab Emirates warned Qatar Friday that it faces “divorce” from its Gulf neighbours unless it takes their demands seriously, as the United Nations offered to help resolve the regional diplomatic crisis.
The list of demands includes the closure of Al-Jazeera television, a long-standing source of conflict between Doha and neighbouring countries which accuse it of fomenting regional strife.
The Qatar-based broadcaster denounced the move as an attack on media freedom.
Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s state minister for foreign affairs, issued the warning more than two weeks into the oil-rich region’s worst diplomatic crisis in years.
“It would be wiser that (Qatar) deal seriously with the demands and concerns of the neighbours or a divorce will take place,” he wrote on Twitter.
The demands confirm that “the crisis is profound,” Gargash added.
The affair has also drawn in the United States, whose Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called for Gulf unity.
UN spokeswoman Eri Kaneko said the world body continued “to follow the situation with deep concern”.
“We hope that the countries involved resolve the situation through dialogue,” she said. “We are ready to assist if requested by the parties.”
Qatar is the world’s leading exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and hosts the biggest American airbase in the Middle East.
Gargash accused Qatar of leaking a document containing the demands by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, which have cut diplomatic ties and accused Qatar of sponsoring terrorism.
Qatar strongly denies such charges.
– ‘Attempt to silence’ –
The demands have not been officially unveiled but Doha-based Al-Jazeera news channel said overnight Thursday they were handed to Qatar by Kuwait, which is mediating the dispute.
According to the document posted on social media, the four countries demand that Qatar closes Al-Jazeera, downgrades diplomatic ties with Iran and shuts a Turkish military base in the emirate.
Al-Jazeera, one of the largest…