Qatar’s foreign minister called Thursday for the United Nations to help resolve the crisis in the Persian Gulf and accused the four Arab countries that have isolated his energy-rich nation of violating international law.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told reporters that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are showing “stubbornness” and have not taken any steps to solve the crisis.
He vowed that Qatar will spare no effort to overcome what he called “violations” of international law and said “the United Nations is the right platform to start from.”
Al Thani spoke to reporters after discussing the crisis with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has supported regional efforts led by Kuwait to resolve the dispute.
In Washington, where Al Thani met a day earlier with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the crisis appeared to be “at a standstill.”
“That naturally concerns us,” Nauert said. “We are urging direct talks between all of the parties because we believe that in order for the situation to be resolved – and it does need to be resolved – they have to sit down together and have some direct dialogue.”
The four Arab nations broke diplomatic relations with Qatar in early June largely over their allegations that it supports terrorist and extremist groups – a charge Qatar rejects. They initially made 13 demands, which Qatar also dismissed.
Last week, the quartet urged Qatar to commit to six principles on combatting extremism and terrorism and negotiate a plan with specific measures to implement them.
Qatar’s ruler has reiterated his country’s willingness to fight terrorism and issued a decree revising the country’s counterterrorism laws
Qatari officials said the crisis was sparked by a cyberattack in May that they said was linked to the UAE. The UAE has denied any involvement.
The attack involved what Qatar says were fabricated comments attributed to the emir posted on the official state news agency and affiliated social media accounts in which he supposedly called Iran an “Islamic power” and said Qatar’s relations with Israel are “good.” Qatar swiftly disavowed the comments but state-owned and semi-official media in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain continued to report the remarks for days.
Al Thani told reporters Thursday that “the entire crisis has been based on a fragile foundation, which is a cyberattack, which is considered an electronic terrorism against the state of Qatar.”
“There is a role for the Security Council and for the General Assembly and all the United Nations mechanisms” in resolving the crisis, he said, adding that he briefed council members on the dispute a month ago.
“The state of Qatar has already stated more than 10 times that we want to solve this issue by dialogue and we are not willing to escalate – and they need to retreat from all their illegal actions,” Al Thani said.
China’s U.N. ambassador, Liu Jieyi, told reporters that the Security Council will take up the crisis if there is a formal request.
“I think it’s something that should be sorted out among the brothers in the GCC and in the region,” he said, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council, which Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Qatar belong to. “And I just hope there is a negotiation process for the various sides to sort out their difficulties.”