Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Tuesday that Qatar must stop supporting terrorist groups like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and urged the Gulf state, facing regional isolation, to change its policies.
Al-Jubeir claimed that by supporting Hamas and the Muslim brotherhood Qatar was undermining the Palestinian Authority and Egypt, Reuters reported.
Qatar must “change their policies” and stop supporting “extremist groups,” Adel al-Jubeir said in Paris, a day after his nation and its allies cut off ties with the Gulf state.
The minister did not specify what he wanted from Qatar, saying that “a number of steps can be taken, they know it.”
When asked about possible diplomatic efforts to end the crisis, he said, “I don’t believe there is a mediation. This is an internal GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) issue.”
The move against the tiny Gulf state was taken by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen, who accuse Qatar of harboring extremists and backing Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, Iran. Qatar has denied the allegations.
“They have to change their policies” and “stop supporting extremist groups,” al-Jubeir told reporters, adding that Qatar needed “to act like a normal country.”
“We’ve decided to take steps to make clear that enough is enough,” he continued. “Nobody wants to hurt Qatar. Qatar has to choose whether it must move in one direction or another direction”.
He also accused energy-rich Qatar of backing “hostile media.”
On Sunday, Hamas denied that Qatar had expelled several of its senior members from its territory but seemed to admit that the members would be leaving the country. The denial came a day after the Lebanese al-Mayadeen television station said Hamas was recently informed of the decision by a representative of the Gulf kingdom, who gave the terror organization a list of members who must leave Qatar’s capital of Doha, citing “external pressures.”
A spokesman said the terror group was reorganizing its activities following the recent appointment of a new leadership.
According to the al-Mayadeen report, those singled out are Hamas members tasked with coordinating the terror group’s operatives in the West Bank. The list of names was reportedly drawn up from Israeli interrogations of Palestinian security prisoners.
The Qataris reportedly apologized for the move, but said it came as a result of “external pressures” on Doha.
It gave no details on where the outside pressure came from, but it comes just two weeks after US President Donald Trump met with Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia, calling on them to form a coalition against Islamist terrorism.
Since Hamas wrested control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in a bloody coup in 2007, Qatar has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the territory and backed Hamas diplomatically.
After the 2014 war with Israel, gas-rich Qatar pledged $1 billion for reconstruction — the largest of any single country.
Qatar’s rulers have strong ties to Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that runs Gaza and is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, and the European Union.
The Arab League’s Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said Tuesday he regrets the split between Arab countries caused by the rift with Qatar.
Aboul Gheit said in a statement that he is following closely the developments of the crisis and hopes for Arab nations to overcome their differences in the near future “to safeguard Arab national security from the threats it faces.”
Monday’s sudden decision by Saudi Arabia and its allies to sever ties with Qatar was reportedly prompted in part by a billion-dollar ransom payment made by Doha to Iran and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups.
The other Gulf states were said to have been infuriated by the ransom paid in April to secure the release of a hunting party that included members of the Qatari royal family, who had been kidnapped in southern Iraq.
Regional government officials told the Financial Times that Qatar paid $700 million to Iran and Shiite militias supported by the regime. An additional sum of between $200 million and $300 million was paid to Syria, most of it to the al-Qaeda-affiliated group Tahrir al-Sham, the paper said.
“So, if you add that to the other $700 million they paid to Iran and its proxies, that means Qatar actually spent about a billion dollars on this crazy deal,” an unnamed official said.
In announcing it was severing ties, Riyadh accused Doha of harboring “terrorist and sectarian groups that aim to destabilize the region including the Muslim Brotherhood, Daesh (IS) and Al-Qaeda,” and supporting Iran-backed “terrorist activities” in eastern Saudi Arabia and in Shiite-majority Bahrain.
Gas-rich Qatar has long had strained ties with its neighbors, but the move by Riyadh and its supporters shocked observers, raising fears the crisis could destabilize an already volatile region.
Foreign powers including the United States, a key ally of Qatar, made urgent calls for talks to end the crisis.