Siege countries looking for 'face-saving' ways to exit crisis
July 20 2017 10:56 PM
Qatar
HE Sheikha Alia Ahmed bin Saif al-Thani meeting with Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce , John Danilovich, in New York.

QNA/New York

*Retreat from 13 demands was in response to global pressure
*No direct talks until Saudi-led bloc ends blockade of Qatar


The climbdown by the four Arab siege countries from the 13-point list of demands to "six broad principles" to resolve to Gulf crisis is an "insincere face-saving" attempt, Qatar's Permanent Representative to the United Nations ambassador HE Sheikha Alia Ahmed bin Saif al-Thani has said.
In statements published on Thursday in The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Sheikha Alia said that there could be no direct negotiations until the Saudi-led bloc ended its blockade of Qatar, which she described as an "illegal siege causing deep harm".
The ambassador pointed out that the retreat by the Saudi-led bloc from the 13 demands submitted earlier through mediator Kuwait and replacing them with six "principles" was in response to international pressure. The submission of these demands had drawn a lot of criticism.
"This is just a face-saving attempt and unfortunately does not indicate good faith or flexibility," she added.
The New York Times described the 13 demands that the four siege countries presented to Qatar as "unrealistic", adding that Doha denied the accusations against it and felt that the real aim of the Saudi-led bloc was to infringe on Qatar's sovereignty.
The newspaper said that much of the dispute revolves around Doha-based Al Jazeera TV network. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had called the siege countries' demand to close down the network as an "unacceptable attack on freedom of expression and opinion".
In this regard, The New York Times quoted Sheikha Alia as saying: "We are proud of hosting Al Jazeera". 
The paper pointed out that Qatar has already briefed the UN secretary-general on the violation of the UN charter and the international human rights law by the siege countries, as well as the consequences of their measures against the country.
Sheikha Alia shared with the newspaper documents containing reports of the National Human Rights Committee in Qatar. These reports have recorded hundreds of complaints about the impact of the siege as well as the arbitrary separation of families, the inability of students to complete the school year and enormous losses to Qatari businessmen in the siege countries.
The paper added that the committee's report also accused the siege countries of having threatened severe punishment to any citizen deemed friendly to Qatar. 
"Just wearing a Barcelona or Paris St-Germain T-shirt out of sympathy is enough for a person to receive severe punishment," it said. 
On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal published a report entitled "Qatar's Critics Scale Back Demands in Diplomatic Bid" in which it said that the four Arab nations have revised and curtailed their list of demands for Doha.
The newspaper added that these countries retreated from demanding the closure of Al Jazeera network or expelling people considered to be a source of problems.
It also published ambassador Sheikha Alia's response, in which she described the retreat by the siege countries as a response to the pressure with regard to their "irrational demands".
Senior Qatari officials have been meeting with office-bearers of international organisations to brief them about the blockade and the unreasonable demands raised by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt in a bid to curtail Qatar's sovereignty.



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