Friday, June 30, 2017

Washington Talks Fail to Secure Breakthrough in Qatar Crisis; Saudis Turn Screws on Qatar With Currency Blockade

First up, al Monitor, June 29:
WASHINGTON — Qatar’s top diplomat told an audience here today that his country is willing to have a dialogue with Arab Gulf states that have been blockading the tiny country for more than three weeks. But he rejected their ultimatum that Doha agree to a list of non-negotiable demands, from closing Al Jazeera news channel and a Turkish military base to downgrading diplomatic relations with Iran.

“We are willing to negotiate with our neighbors, but we won’t compromise our sovereignty,” Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told journalists and experts at an event hosted by the Arab Center Washington DC.

The blunt remarks confirmed the prevalent mood that the parties remain as far apart as ever despite days of talks in the US capital.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cleared much of his schedule this week to huddle with Al Thani and Kuwaiti officials trying to mediate the dispute. But the State Department acknowledged today it was unsure when the crisis might get resolved.

“Everyone gets it,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said at her press briefing today. “This needs to be resolved. When it will be resolved, we are not certain of it at this time.”
Nauert said the rival camps need to negotiate.

“We hope the parties get together and recognize that there is going to be a negotiation,” Nauert said. “We are standing by and ready to help.”

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir earlier this week told journalists at a press briefing that the demands from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are non-negotiable.

“It's very simple. We made our point. We took our steps. And it's up to [Qatar] to amend [its] behavior,” Jubeir told journalists June 27. “And once they do, then things will be worked out. But if they don't, they will remain isolated. If Qatar wants to come back into the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] pool, they know what they have to do."

Without naming Saudi Arabia, Al Thani criticized the remarks. The Qatari envoy said such ultimatums were hard to stomach.

“I emphasized [to Tillerson] that suggestions by one party that their demands are non-negotiable are not helpful,” Al Thani noted....MORE
And From Sputnik, June 30:

Riyal Boycott: Saudi Arabia Turns Screws on Qatar With Currency Blockade 
Residents of Qatar are having problems exchanging their riyals after exchange services worldwide stopped accepting them, following the economic blockade announced by Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies.

The Qatari riyal has fallen to its lowest trading value against the dollar in 12 years as a result of the boycott of Qatar by a group of Arab countries.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen and Libya cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, alleging that the Gulf nation supports terrorists and militant groups with ties to Iran.

Saudi Arabia closed the crossing at Qatar's only land border, which Qatar uses to import about 40 percent of its food supplies. Qatar's Arab neighbors also denied permission for the national carrier Qatar Airways to use their airspace, and airline carriers from the UAE canceled all flights to Doha.

Iran, with which Qatar shares a natural gas field in the Persian Gulf, and Turkey, which has a military base in Qatar, have sent deliveries of food and other supplies to Qatar by sea.

While the Qatari riyal has been officially pegged at $3.64 to the dollar since 2005, offers for the currency have fallen below the fixed rate amid a fall in demand. According to Bloomberg data, the spot exchange rate for the riyal dipped to 3.79 on June 26, before recovering to 3.72 on Friday....MORE