UAE ambassador to Russia Omar Ghobash has threatened further sanctions against Qatar amid a deepening rift among Gulf States.
In an interview with the Guardian published on Wednesday, Ghobash said that a list of 13 demands conveyed to Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt could be followed with further economic pressures if Doha does not comply.
The list of demands included the shutting down Al Jazeera, cutting diplomatic ties with Iran, immediately halting the establishing of a Turkish military base in Qatar and ending any military cooperation with the NATO member.
Qatar must also refuse to further naturalize citizens from the four countries – especially in Bahrain’s case – and expel those currently in Doha, in what the countries describe as an effort to keep Qatar from meddling in their internal affairs.
“If Qatar was not willing to accept the demands, it is a case of ‘Goodbye Qatar’ we do not need you in our tent anymore,” Ghobash said.
“Their position today anyway is inconsistent with being members of the GCC because it is a common security and defense organization. There are certain economic sanctions that we can take which are being considered right now.
“One possibility would be to impose conditions on our own trading partners and say you want to work with us then you have got to make a commercial choice.
Ghobash said that the list of demands also point to the fact that the UAE is “imposing the same standards on ourselves.”
He added: “So if we are to ask for the monitoring of Qatari financial transactions and its funding of terrorism then we would be open to the same idea. This is not bullying. This is demanding a higher standard throughout the whole region.
“We have nothing to hide ourselves so we are willing to meet the same standards we are asking Qatar. The west has traditionally complained of a lack of financial transparency in the region, and there must be a huge amount that the west can do to monitor what is happening.”
He also warned: “We can escalate with more information, because we are not going to escalate militarily. That is not the way we are looking at things.”
On the topic of Al Jazeera, Ghobash said: “We do not claim to have press freedom. We do not promote the idea of press freedom. What we talk about is responsibility in speech.
“Freedom of speech has different constraints in different places. Speech in our part of the world has a particular context, and that context can go from peaceful to violent in no time simply because of words that are spoken.”
Ghobash also warned Qatar about “choosing the Iranian route” and deepening ties with Tehran.
“We are asking Qatar to make a choice and we realize they may choose to take the route to Iran, and we are willing to accept the consequences of that.”