The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain have reduced their initial 13 demands to end the isolation of Qatar to six broader principles for combatting extremism.
Saudi Arabia’s United Nations Ambassador, Abdallah Al Mouallimi, told a media briefing that the countries are committed to the principles agreed at a meeting in Cairo on July 5, according to AP.
The original list of demands sent to Qatar in June included the closing of a Turkish military base in the country, the shutting down of controversial broadcaster Al Jazeera and reduced ties with Iran.
The new terms appear less specific in in comparison and may signal a willingness by the four states to seek a more immediate diplomatic solution.
Al Mouallimi said the new principles included efforts to fight extremism and terrorism, the halting of the harbouring and financing of terror groups and the suspending of all acts of provocation and speeches inciting hatred or violence.
He argued it “should be easy for the Qataris to accept” the demands and stressed that there would be no compromise, with international monitoring deemed necessary to ensure Qatar’s compliance.
In a surprise comment, the official also suggested that one key point of contention – the closing of Al Jazeera – might not be necessary to end the dispute.
“If the only way to achieve that is by closing down Al Jazeera, fine,” he was quoted as saying. “If we can achieve that without closing down Al Jazeera, that’s also fine. The important thing is the objective and the principle involved.”
UAE minister of state for international cooperation Reem Al Hashimi, who was also present at the briefing, suggested the US and Kuwait could have an important role to play in ending the crisis.
She described a recent memorandum of understanding on preventing terror financing signed between the US and Qatar as “an excellent step”, but suggested the group would like to see stronger commitments.
“At this stage the ball is in Qatar’s court,” she said, stressing the four nations were seeking “serious change in behaviour” and “no more talk”.
However, it was clear the issue of the Turkish base, which Ankara has recently bolstered with additional troops, remained a point of concern.
Al Hashimi said the group did not want to see military escalation of any kind and Al Mouallimi argued Qatar’s future remained with its neighbours and not “faraway places” in an apparent reference to Turkey and Iran.
The two countries have backed Qatar in the dispute and provided it with food imports and other support since the crisis began in June.
“If Turkey wants to play a constructive role they are welcome to do so, but trying to find the role through military bases or military intervention would not be productive, and would not fare well for Turkey’s reputation in the Arab world,” Al Mouallimi said.
Representatives from the four states briefed the 10 elected Security Council members on Tuesday and hope to meet the permanent members as well, the ambassador added.
For now, there are no plans to take the dispute to the UN, he said.