“We’re Back To Square One” – Saudi Bloc Reinstates Demands As Qatar Economy Collapses

Wednesday, August 2, 2017
By Paul Martin

by Tsvetana Paraskova via OilPrice.com,
Aug 2, 2017

The four countries leading the boycott against Qatar are going back to their list of 13 demands for Doha to meet before talks can start, essentially reverting the Arab Gulf spat back to square one.

At the same time, economic data for June shows that Qatar’s imports plummeted due to the blockade imposed by most of its neighbors, and foreign deposits at Qatari banks dropped to their lowest in nearly two years.

However, Qatar has a huge sovereign wealth fund, and boasts considerable foreign exchange reserves. Although Qatar’s non-oil economy is expected to see some pressure due to the fact that it has to use alternative trade routes, the world’s largest LNG exporter has not seen its LNG trade disrupted yet, which is precisely why analysts do not see the blockade as potentially crippling Qatar’s economy. Rather, they see it as merely straining economic growth.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – the four countries leading the boycott on Qatar – issued on June 22 a list of 13 demands to Qatar, which included severing ties with Saudi archrival Iran, and shutting down the Al-Jazeera TV network.

Two weeks ago, diplomats from the four countries signaled that they no longer wanted Qatar to comply with the 13 demands, instead proposing six broad principles that they want Qatar to sign onto. The principles included denying safe havens and financing to terrorists, combating terrorism and extremism, stopping incitement of hatred and violence, and refraining from interfering in the internal politics of other countries, the New York Times reported.

This past Sunday, however, the four countries said that apart from the six principles, they insisted on Qatar meeting those 13 demands, reverting to their original conditions, which analysts had thought were too steep for Qatar to meet.

“We are back to square one,” Abdullah Al-Shayji, a political science professor at Kuwait University, told Bloomberg, commenting on the latest twist in the Qatar crisis.

“We have not progressed an inch because we were under the impression that the 13 demands were not only null and void but channeled into six principles. It seems that they are not budging and are escalating,” Al-Shayji said.

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