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Qatar – Gulf Crisis : A legal perspective

An Introduction

 On 5th June 2017, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab emirates among other Arab states have announced cutting diplomatic ties with the State of Qatar due to allegations and alleged accusations of terror support which have been rejected by the State of Qatar. Consequently a number of other measures have been imposed on the state of Qatar, Qatari nationals and bodies.

What are the ongoing strict measures due to the Qatar Gulf Crisis?

  • Travel bans – Qatari diplomats have been given 48 hours (14 days for Qatari nationals) to leave the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia with minimal considerations for joint families. The opposing countries have issued that Qatar must refuse to naturalise citizens from the four countries and "revoke Qatari citizenship for existing nationals where such citizenship violates those countries' laws
  • Closure of airspace and ports affecting and delaying many businesses, of which some are delivery and courier services across borders.
  • Qatar has been asked to shut Al Jazeera, close the Turkish army base and scale down Iran ties within 10 days. There has been locked access to Qatari channels and websites – online and television access to prominent Qatari businesses, such as Al Jazeera, Qatari Airways and BeIn Sports, have been blocked in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
  • Freezing of trade – Qatar's supply of LNG to the UAE continues as usual however, the UAE has stopped sugar exports to Qatar. A lot of export and import exchange of products have been frozen between Qatar and the opposing states.
  • Social media – government officials in Qatar have warned against false information being posted on social media or otherwise. Meanwhile in the UAE and Bahrain government officials have warned that 'expressions of sympathy' with Qatar on social media or through other means will attract 'strict action'.
  • Revocation of licenses of Qatari entities in the opposing states

    

 The countries that have ended relations with Qatar to an extent (due to the diplomatic crisis) include:

  1. Saudi Arabia
  2. UAE
  3. Bahrain
  4. Egypt
  5. Jordan
  6. Yemen
  7. Senegal
  8. Comoros
  9. Djibouti
  10. Eritrea
  11. Niger
  12. Libya
  13. Maldives
  14. Mauritania
  15. Chad

With diplomatic ties being severed a gulf crisis has started to arise, therefore the opposing countries have passed on a demand list to Qatar, with 10 days to fulfil the listed demands.

The 10 day period granted for complying with the requests imposed on Qatar has come to an end and the document does not specify what the countries will do if Qatar refuses to comply.

The requests were as follows: (Courtesy of Aljazeera.com)

“List of demands by Saudi Arabia, other Arab nations

  • Scale down diplomatic ties with Iran and close the Iranian diplomatic missions in Qatar, expel members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard and cut off military and intelligence cooperation with Iran. Trade and commerce with Iran must comply with US and international sanctions in a manner that does not jeopardise the security of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

 

  • Immediately shutdown the Turkish military base, which is currently under construction, and halt military cooperation with Turkey inside of Qatar.

3) Sever ties to all "terrorist, sectarian and ideological organisations," specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIL, al-Qaeda, Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as the Nusra Front) and Lebanon's Hezbollah. Formally declare these entities as terror groups as per the list announced by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt, and concur with all future updates of this list.

4) Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, US and other countries.

5) Hand over "terrorist figures", fugitives and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.

6) Shut down Al Jazeera and its affiliate stations.

7) End interference in sovereign countries' internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for nationals where such citizenship violates those countries' laws.

8) Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other financial losses caused by Qatar's policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.

9) Align Qatar's military, political, social and economic policies with the other Gulf and Arab countries, as well as on economic matters, as per the 2014 agreement reached with Saudi Arabia.

10) Cease contact with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over files detailing Qatar’s prior contact with and support for opposition groups, and submit details of their personal information and the support Qatar has provided them.

11) Shut down all news outlets funded directly and indirectly by Qatar, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al Jadeed, Mekameleen and Middle East Eye, etc.

12) Agree to all the demands within 10 days of list being submitted to Qatar, or the list will become invalid.

13) Consent to monthly compliance audits in the first year after agreeing to the demands, followed by quarterly audits in the second year, and annual audits in the following 10 years.”