Friday 24 November 2017

Gulf nations may let some Qataris stay amid diplomatic rift

A 14-day deadline had been set on June 5 for Qataris to return home
A 14-day deadline had been set on June 5 for Qataris to return home

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have signalled they may allow some Qataris to stay in their countries amid a diplomatic rift with the Gulf nation.

Qatar, meanwhile, pledged those nations' citizens will have "complete freedom" to stay in the energy-rich country.

The three Gulf nations cut ties to Qatar on June 5 over its alleged support of militants and ties to Iran and ordered all Qataris out within 14 days, while calling their own citizens back. That has created chaos across the Sunni Gulf nations, whose citizens regularly intermarry and conduct business across countries sharing long historic and cultural bonds.

Early on Sunday, the three countries all issued statements urging mixed nationality families to call their respective interior ministries, which would take into consideration the "humanitarian circumstances" of their situation.

For its part, Qatar issued an overnight statement saying residents living in the country from those nations that severed ties would have "complete freedom" to stay despite the "hostile and tendentious campaigns" now targeting it.

The ministry said: "The state of Qatar, in accordance to its firm beliefs and principles, works on avoiding political conflicts with states and governments when dealing with their people,"

"Those residents have the complete freedom in staying in the state of Qatar in accordance with the laws and regulations adopted by the state."

The diplomatic crisis, the worst since the 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq and the subsequent Gulf War, has seen Arab nations and others cut ties to Qatar, which hosts a major US military base and will be the host of the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

Doha is a major international travel hub, but flagship carrier Qatar Airways now flies increasingly over Iran and Turkey after being blocked elsewhere in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia has closed its land border crossings to Qatar, which imports nearly all of its food.

In recent days, Turkey has stepped in to supply supermarkets there with eggs and milk after worried residents cleaned out shelves in the early days of the crisis.

Turkey also has decided to send troops to a base it maintains in Qatar in a sign of support.

Kuwait's ruler has been trying to mediate an end to the conflict. US president Donald Trump has offered strong criticism of Qatar as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called for "no further escalation" in the crisis.

AP

Press Association

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