June 6 (UPI) — Kuwait offered to mediate talks after several Middle East nations ended diplomatic relations with Qatar, the Qatari foreign minister said.
Qatar seeks “a dialogue of openness and honesty,” Sheikh Mohammad Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said in a television interview Monday with BBC. He added that Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani cancelled a speech scheduled for Tuesday to better ensure that negotiations could proceed; the recommendation came from the Kuwaiti foreign minister, he said.
Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jabe Al-Sabah, urged Qatar to “exercise self-restraint and refrain from steps that would escalate the situation” while plans for Kuwait’s mediation are formed.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates – each a country involved in a pan-Arab coalition force fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, and each a member of the influential Gulf Cooperation Council alongside Qatar – ended diplomatic ties with Qatar. They accused the oil-rich country of destabilizing the region by supporting terrorism. Ambassadors were recalled from Doha, Qatar’s capital. Borders with Qatar were closed and flights to and from Qatar were cancelled.
The airport in Doha is the Middle East’s largest transportation hub.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates ordered a complete expulsion of Qataris from their countries. Egypt, Libya, Yemen and the Maldives also severed ties.
Qatar denied the accusations to Al Jazeera, expressing “deep regret and surprise” at the sudden action, saying in a statement that the country “has been subjected to a campaign of lies.” Earlier it said a statement critical of Saudi Arabia by the Qatari emir, which prompted the diplomatic crisis, was the result of a hacked website.
Arab countries in the region accuse Qatar of supporting, with some of its wealthy citizens, hardline Islamist groups in Syria. They also are angered by Qatar’s ties to Iran, notably a $1 billion ransom payment to terrorist groups and to Iranian security officials after Qatari citizens were kidnapped in Syria and Iran.
Qatar depends on Saudi Arabia for much of its food, as well as for construction material. Its energy industry requires the construction material, as does Qatar’s preparations for hosting the 2022 World Cup global tournament.