Published: Sun, June 25, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Turkey's Erdogan backs Qatar, says calls to shut base "disrespectful"


An investigation into why a British man fell to his death on a Qatar World Cup site has raised concerns about stadium roof safety.

Two days ago, Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly held talks via phone with leaders of Saudi Arabia, King Salman and its new crown prince to seek ways to end the diplomatic row between Qatar and Gulf of Arab states.

"The State of Qatar is now studying this paper, the demands contained therein and the foundations on which they were based, in order to prepare an appropriate response".

Gargash said that if Qatar fails to comply within the 10-day timeline set out in the ultimatum, it will be isolated.

The demands aimed at ending the worst Gulf Arab crisis in years.

"I can assure you that our situation today is very comfortable", Qatari Ambassador to the U.S. Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani told The Associated Press.

Asked whether Qatar felt pressure to resolve the crisis quickly, he said: "Not at all".

Under the new hashtag #WeDemandQatar, users have been coming up with their own list of demands to highlight the presumed absurdity of the original conditions. "We believe it's a family issue", he said.

In his strongest statement of support for Qatar in the almost three-week-old crisis centred on the Gulf state, Erdogan said the call to withdraw Turkish forces was disrespectful and that Doha - which described the demands as unreasonable - was taking the right approach.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar this month alleging that the country funds terrorism an accusation that Qatar denies.

The demands from the Saudis, the Emiratis, the Egyptians and the Bahrainis amount to a call for a sweeping overhaul of Qatar's foreign policy and natural gas-funded influence peddling in the region.

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Saudi Arabia regularly accuses Iran, its regional rival, of interference throughout the Middle East. Also on June 23, the White House said it considers the deepening crisis in the Gulf to be primarily "a family issue", urging regional leaders to chart a way out while offering USA help in enabling talks.

These included the closure of Al Jazeera, a downgrading of diplomatic ties with Iran and the shutdown of a Turkish military base in the emirate, according to the list that was leaked, AFP reported.

The United Arab Emirates has said the list was meant to be confidential, and it has accused Qatar of leaking it to the press in a sign of bad faith. The AP obtained a copy from one of the countries involved in the dispute. The move has left Qatar, whose only land border is shared with Saudi Arabia, under a de facto blockade by its neighbors. But Qatar so far has avoided economic collapse by quickly finding alternative channels and says its huge financial reserves will meet any challenges.

Yet resisting the demands could prove hard. "No offence but Turkey is not an ordinary country, it is not an ordinary state", he said.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday that Washington had been pushing for a clear list of grievances that are "reasonable and actionable".

"This is an Arab issue that requires an Arab solution", Otaiba said.

"We hope that Turkey prioritizes the interest of the Turkish state and not partisan ideology", Gargash said.

"This is something that they want to and should work out for themselves", Spicer said.

Al-Jazeera English's managing director, Giles Trendle, said it was like "Germany demanding Britain to close down the BBC", in a video posted on social media. Qatar is home to the largest USA base in the region, Al-Udeid, and Bahrain is home to the Fifth Fleet of the United States Navy.

His warning comes hours after Qatar disclosed the 13 demands, presented by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt through Kuwait that is acting as a mediator to defuse the crisis.

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