Saudi Arabia: Qatar Must Sever Ties With Hamas

Qatar is undermining Palestinian Authority and Egypt by supporting Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi foreign minister says

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir speaks during a news conference in Rabat, May 8, 2017.
STRINGER/REUTERS

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Tuesday Qatar needed to take several steps, including ending its support of Palestinian Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, to restore ties with other key Arab states. 

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Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said Qatar knew exactly what to do to restore relations with Riyadh and its Arab allies. 

"We want to see Qatar implement the promises it made a few years back with regard its support of extremist groups, regards its hostile media and interference in affairs of other countries," Jubeir told reporters in Paris. 

"Nobody wants to hurt Qatar. It has to choose whether it must move in one direction or another direction".  

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Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed diplomatic relations with Qatar in a coordinated move on Monday, accusing the tiny Gulf state of supporting terrrorism. Yemen, Libya's eastern-based government and the Maldives joined later and transport links were shut down.

"We took this step with great pain so that it understands that these policies are not sustainable and must change," Jubeir said. 

Jubeir added that Qatar was undermining the Palestinian Authority and Egypt in its support of Hamas and the Muslim brotherhood. 

"We don't think this is good. Qatar has to stop these policies so that it can contribute to stability in the Middle East," he said. 

Jubeir declined to say exactly what he wanted Qatar to do immediately, but said the measures taken by Arab states, including a sea, land and air blockade would have a considerable cost on the country. 

"We believe that common sense and logic will convince Qatar to take the right steps. The decisions that were made were very strong and will have a fairly large cost on Qatar and we do not believe that Qataris want to sustain those costs," he said. 

The campaign to isolate Qatar is disrupting trade in commodities from crude oil to metals and food, and deepening fears of a possible shock to the global gas market, where the Gulf state is a major player. 

Jubeir also dismissed Qatar's recent rapprochement with Shi'ite Iran - Sunni Saudi Arabia's arch foe in the region - saying that countries that deal with Tehran "deal with it at their own peril". 

When asked whether there could be military measures should Doha not change course, Jubeir said: "I hope not." 

Qatar's foreign minister said on Tuesday that Doha was ready for mediation efforts, adding that Qatar's ruler had delayed a speech in order to give Kuwait a chance to ease regional tensions. 

Qatar wants to give Kuwait's Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah the ability to "proceed and communicate with the parties to the crisis and to try to contain the issue," Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said in comments to Qatar-based Al Jazeera television. 

Kuwait's emir had an important role in a previous Gulf rift in 2014 and Qatar's Sheikh Tamim "regards him as a parent and respects his desire to postpone any speech or step until there is a clearer picture of the crisis," Al Jazeera quoted the foreign minister as saying. 

Sheikh Mohammed told the channel that the measures taken against Qatar had an "unprecedented impact" on its citizens and on family relations in the Gulf Arab region, but said Doha will not take counter measures. 

Qatar "believes such differences between sister countries must be resolved through dialogue." 

Also on Tuesday,  Russian President Vladimir Putin told Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, that Russia's stance remains that crisis situations should be solved by politic and diplomatic means, "in dialogue", the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

French President Emmanuel Macron told Qatar's emir it was important to preserve stability in the Gulf and that he supported all initiatives to appease tensions that have erupted between Qatar and its Arab neighbours.

In a phone call with Qatar's emir, Macron said France remained available to talk to all parties involved, an official at the French president's office said.

Macron also held a separate phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the crisis in the Gulf, the official added.