News ID: 235837
Published: 1107 GMT December 15, 2018

Qatar: Persian Gulf Arab bloc has ‘no teeth’, needs reform

Qatar: Persian Gulf Arab bloc has ‘no teeth’, needs reform

Qatar said on Saturday it remained committed to the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council but the bloc needed to enforce its own rules better, signaling a reformed alliance could help end a row between Doha and some of its neighbors.

Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Qatar was still counting on Kuwait and other regional powers to help solve the row that has seen Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt impose a political and economic boycott on Doha since June 2017.

"We believe that we are more relevant as a bloc" for the West than as separate and fragmented countries, he told the annual Doha Forum, but said the alliance had "no teeth" and needed a dispute resolution mechanism, Reuters reported.

"They have mechanisms in place and never trigger them (to hold people accountable) because some countries believe they are non-binding, so we need to make sure all the rules we are submitting to are binding to everyone in this region."

The four states accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and cozying up to Iran. Doha denies the charges and says the boycott aims to curtail its sovereignty.

The dispute has eluded mediation efforts by Kuwait, which along with Oman is a part of the Arab bloc.

In a sign the dispute still festered, Qatar's emir did not attend an annual Persian Gulf summit on Sunday. Doha earlier announced it was quitting OPEC to focus on gas in a move seen as a shot at the oil exporter club's main producer.

Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani told the forum that his country’s position in the Persian Gulf crisis remained unchanged – “lifting the blockade and settling the differences via dialogue”. 

The boycotting states say the dispute is not a priority and insist Qatar meet a list of demands submitted to it at the start of the crisis that include closing Al Jazeera TV, reducing ties with Iran and closing a Turkish military base in Qatar.

Foreign ministers from Iran and Turkey, which both supported Qatar in the row, are attending the two-day forum.

Romania's Foreign Minister Teodor-Viorel Meleşcanu, told the gathering that the European Union is working on organizing a conference that could help solve the Persian Gulf rift.

"We are thinking about a joint event for the EU and Arab countries and we would like to have a direct discussion with them. We hope to hold it in April and in principle it would take place in Bucharest," he later said.

Romania takes the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU from January for the next six months.

Bahrain's foreign minister said on Saturday there was no need for mediation as the solution lay in Doha's hands.

"It is not our crisis, it is Qatar's crisis. So there is no need for a mediator to solve it, what it needs is for a wise person from its (Qatar's) people," Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa tweeted.




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