Led by Saudi Arabia, several states in the Middle East and Africa have severed ties with Qatar since June 5, accusing the gas-rich Gulf state of supporting terrorism and Iran. Qatar denies the allegations.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani before their meeting at the State Department in Washington, US, June 27, 2017.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani before their meeting at the State Department in Washington, US, June 27, 2017. (TRT World and Agencies)

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and several other Sunni-majority countries have severed relations with Qatar since June 5, accusing the Gulf state of supporting terrorism based on its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Taliban.

Another point of departure is Qatar's ties with Iran, with whom it shares one of the world's biggest gas fields.

Qatar has denied the accusations and called the collective decision "unjustified." Kuwait, Turkey and the US have all urged a political solution as the bloc isolates Qatar using various ad hoc sanctions, including shutting down their airspace to Qataris and blocking import routes.

The dispute began in May when Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani was reported to have made statements on the state news agency supporting Iran. Doha said the statements were fabricated and disseminated via a hack.

Here are the latest developments in the crisis:

June 28, Wednesday

UN rapporteur, media watchdog slam demands for Al Jazeera closure

A United Nations expert and a media freedom watchdog on Wednesday criticised four Arab states for seeking to close Al Jazeera television in a rift with Qatar.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt sent Doha a list of 13 demands, including closing the state-funded Al Jazeera.

"This demand represents a serious threat to media freedom if states, under the pretext of a diplomatic crisis, take measures to force the dismantling of Al Jazeera," UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye said in a statement.

"This use of pressure and blackmail betrays a clear desire by certain Gulf states to censor the Qatari media and constitutes a grave attack on press freedom and pluralism, and the right of access to information in the region," said Alexandra El Khazen, the head of Reporters without Borders' Middle East desk.

"The targeted media outlets must be able to exist freely, without being forced to fall in with the policies of neighbouring countries, which cannot by any stretch of the imagination be regarded as models of media freedom, as models to be followed."

Fresh economic sanctions on Qatar being considered UAE envoy

Gulf Arab states are considering fresh sanctions on Qatar and could ask their trading partners to choose between working with them or Doha, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to Russia said in an interview with The Guardian newspaper.

"There are certain economic sanctions that we can take which are being considered right now," Omar Ghobash told the newspaper in an interview in London.

He said the expulsion of Qatar from the Gulf Cooperation Council was "not the only sanction available."

June 27, Tuesday

Rex Tillerson meets Qatari Foreign Minister in Washington

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani at the State Department on Tuesday.

Tillerson said he hopes the list of demands would be "reasonable and actionable."

On Sunday, Tillerson said that while some elements of the series of requests made by the four countries would be "very difficult for Qatar to meet ... there are significant areas which provide a basis for ongoing dialogue leading to resolution."

Al Jazeera quoted Al Thani as saying, "We agree with Washington that the demands should be reasonable."

Arab demands "unacceptable", says Qatari foreign minister

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said on Tuesday that demands by Arab states that his country stops aiding terrorism were baseless and unacceptable, Qatari-owned Al Jazeera television reported.

"What has been presented by the countries of the blockade are merely claims that are not proved by evidence and are not demands," Sheikh Mohammed was quoted as saying.

"The demands must be realistic and enforceable and otherwise are unacceptable."

No negotiations over Qatar demands: Saudi Arabia

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Tuesday that there would be no negotiations over demands by the kingdom and other Arab states for Qatar to stop supporting terrorism, state news agency Ekhbariya reported.

Asked by reporters on a visit to Washington if the demands were non-negotiable, Saudi's Jubeir said: "Yes."

"We made our point, we took our steps and it's up to the Qataris to amend their behaviour and once they do things will be worked out but if they don't they will remain isolated," Jubeir said.

If Qatar wanted to return to the Gulf Cooperation Council fold, "they know what they have to do," he said.

For more on previous developments click here.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies