Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received on Tuesday an invitation from his Saudi counterpart Adel Al-Jubeir for the foreign ministers of the four Arab countries boycotting Qatar to meet with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Jeddah, according to a press statement.
The meeting follows US and Kuwaiti mediation to solve the recent disputes between Arab states and Qatar as Tillerson met on Tuesday with Qatari officials in Kuwait.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain said on Monday that the published documents of the 2013 Riyadh Agreement 2013 and the 2014 Riyadh Supplementary Agreement confirm Qatar’s violations and its failure to meet its obligations, according to a joint statement.
American broadcaster CNN International published on Monday alleged leaked documents of the 2013 Riyadh Agreement and the 2014 Riyadh Supplementary Agreement, signed by the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar.
“The four countries assert that the 13 demands submitted to the Qatari government were set to fulfill their previous commitments and obligations, and that the original claims that were either mentioned in the Riyadh Agreement or supplementary agreement are fully consistent with the spirit of what was agreed upon,” the statement read.
Political analyst Mohammed Kamal told Daily News Egypt that the timing of the leaks coinciding with Tillerson’s trip to Kuwait indicates that all parties of the conflict are trying to convince the mediators with their stance.
“The American stance is a bit contradicting. On one hand, [President Donald] Trump finds the demands logical and matching with his stances regarding fighting terrorism, and on the other hand, the US State Department does not want its Arab alliance in disputes,” explained Kamal.
The 13 demands listed earlier by the four countries, which Qatar rejected, included an article that states: “Qatar is committed to being a country in harmony with its Gulf and Arab environment, activating the Riyadh Agreement of 2013 and the Riyadh Supplementary Agreement of 2014.”
Qatar’s FM said on Tuesday that Qatar was committed to all articles of the Riyadh Agreement, adding that leaking such documents now was only meant to suppress the US and Kuwaiti efforts, during a press conference with his US counterpart in Kuwait.
Although the Riyadh Agreement documents were not released before, several articles of both the documents and the 13 demands are similar.
Muslim Brotherhood, among other enemies
Reducing the level of diplomatic relations with Iran, refraining of having any economic cooperation with Iran that is contrary to the imposed US sanctions, shutting down the Turkish military base on its territory and abolishing military cooperation with the country are the three first demands listed by the four countries to Qatar in 2017.
Additionally, the four states stressed that cutting relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist organisations was mandatory, as the demands state: “Refrain from supporting or funding associations and organisations classified by the four states and the United States as terrorist,” cutting relations with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State, considering them as terrorist entities, and including them in the lists of terrorism announced by the four countries and the United States.
In 2013, according to the alleged leaked documents, it was agreed upon that Qatar shall not support the Muslim Brotherhood or “any of the organisations, groups or individuals that threaten the security and stability of the Council states through direct security work or through political influence.”
The 6th demand of the 13 states is to “refrain from interfering in the internal and external affairs of the four countries and refrain from giving Qatari citizenship to citizens of these countries.”
While the alleged 2013 Riyadh Agreement document states: “no interference in the internal affairs of the Council’s states, whether directly or indirectly. Not to give asylum/refuge or give nationality to any citizen of the Council states that has an activity opposing his country’s regimes, except with the approval of his country; no support to deviant groups that oppose their states; and no support for antagonistic media.”
Gulf countries have condemned Qatar’s actions of giving nationality to their citizens, and in 2014, Bahraini Minister of Interior Rashed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa accused Doha of “luring Bahraini citizens into Qatari citizenship and asking them to abandon their original nationality,” while Qatar denied the accusations, according to Bahraini media.
Shutting down Al-Jazeera and shutting down all media supported by Qatar directly or indirectly, were two of the 13 demands to revive diplomacy with Qatar.
Furthermore, the 2014 Riyadh Supplementary Agreement states: “All countries are committed to the Gulf Cooperation Council discourse to support the Arab Republic of Egypt, and contributing to its security, stability, and its financial support; and ceasing all media activity directed against the Arab Republic of Egypt in all media platforms, whether directly or indirectly, including all the offenses broadcasted on Al-Jazeera and Al-Jazeera Mubashir Masr, and to work to stop all offenses in Egyptian media.”
The Qatari state-owned news network Al-Jazeera was founded in 1996 and has been criticised by Arab governments since.
The news network has been accused of “promoting terrorism, disseminating false news, and distorting the image of Arab states,” among other accusations made by Arab states over the years.
In 2002, Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador to Qatar due to Al-Jazeera’s reporting on the former. In 2006, another dispute took place between Qatar’s first lady, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned, and Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat for “a propaganda campaign against Qatar and its leadership.”
Egyptian and Bahraini authorities have blocked all Al-Jazeera outlets in both countries following the latest disputes. Furthermore, Egypt has reportedly arrested and detained a number of Al-Jazeera reporters over the past four years.
Relations between Qatar and Bahrain have also been strained in 2011 after Al-Jazeera English broadcast the documentary “Shouts in the Dark”, which showed political unrest in Bahrain and caused a campaign against Qatar in the Bahraini media.
On 5 June, Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE announced cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar and shutting airfields and ports to all Qatari means of transport, accusing Qatar with supporting and financing terrorist organisations and interfering in Gulf states’ policies.