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In the latest development in the lingering political crisis between the Gulf states, Turkey’s leader has sided with gas-rich Qatar, saying the sweeping ultimatum the Arab monarchies have given Doha runs “contrary to international law.”
Speaking after a prayer at the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the sweeping ultimatum the Gulf states have put to Qatar is an attack on the country’s “sovereign rights.”
He said Turkey can “appreciate and embrace” Qatar’s resistance to the overwhelming pressure from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt.
“We consider these demands to be contrary to international law,” Erdogan said, as cited by state-run news Anadolu agency. “It is a breach of Qatar’s sovereign rights.” Erdogan also vowed to give Doha unconditional support to overcome the “many sanctions.”
An alliance led by Saudi Arabia presented Qatar with a comprehensive list of demands on Friday. The 13-point ultimatum promises that the trade embargo and diplomatic isolation of the country will end if its terms are accepted.
The demands stipulate that Qatar must close its major television network, Al-Jazeera; reduce cooperation with Saudi Arabia’s archrival, Iran; cut off contacts with Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood; and force Turkey’s military out of the country. Qatar was given ten days to comply with the demands and agree to monthly checks.
Saudi Arabia and its allies consider the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, Iran as an existential threat, and Al-Jazeera as a propaganda instrument that Qatar uses to interfere in their domestic affairs.
Doha responded the same day, saying the ultimatum was neither “reasonable” nor “realistic” and infringed on the country’s sovereignty.
Erdogan also lambasted the requirement that the Turkish military leave Qatar as a sign of disrespect. “Even though they still didn’t come back to us on this, asking Turkey to pull back its troops [from Qatar] is disrespectful to Turkey,” he said. Qatar agreed to host a Turkish military base in 2014.
Turkey has sent large shipments of food and dispatched a small contingent of troops with armored vehicles to support of Qatar amid the political row, but toned down its rhetoric and urged the Arab nations to mend their relations after the Gulf capitals expressed deep concern over the deployment.
“We don’t want any sort of tension with any Gulf state. We would also not want any of them to be in a row with each other. This has been our approach to this crisis since the beginning,” Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s aide, said on Thursday.