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Four Arab States Demand Qatar Cut Ties With Iran

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain have demanded Qatar to cut ties with Iran, and put forward other conditions, if the Persian Gulf state wishes to return to their circle.

Kuwait, which is acting as the mediator between the four countries and Doha, has handed Qatar what is reported to be thirteen conditions for resolving the crisis.

The list reportedly includes a demand for the gas-rich state to align itself politically, economically and otherwise with the Gulf Cooperation Council, which counters Tehran's influence in the region.

Qatar has been accused of harboring close ties with Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional arch-rival.

The Iran provision in the list reiterates that Doha must shut down diplomatic posts in Iran, kick out from Qatar any member of Iran's IRGC, and only conduct trade and commerce with Tehran that complies with U.S. sanctions.

These demands aim to further isolate Iran that along with Russia has been the sole regional defender of Syria's Bashar Assad.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar this month over allegations the Persian Gulf country funds terrorism — an accusation that President Donald Trump has echoed. Those countries have now given Qatar 10 days to comply with all of their demands, which include paying an unspecified sum in compensation.

Elsewhere the demands list also included conditions that the gas-rich nation had already insisted would never be met, including shutting down Al-Jazeera. Qatar's government has said it won't negotiate until Arab nations lift their blockade.

Only a day earlier, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had warned that the demands must be "reasonable and actionable." The U.S. issued that litmus test amid frustration at how long it was taking Saudi Arabia and others to formalize a list of demands, complicating U.S. efforts to bring about a resolution to the worst Gulf diplomatic crisis in years.

Qatar's neighbors have also accused it of backing al-Qaida and the Islamic State group's ideology throughout the Middle East. Those umbrella groups also appear on the list of entities whose ties with Qatar must be extinguished, along with Hezbollah and the al-Qaida's branch in Syria, once known as the Nusra Front.

The Shi'ite Hezbollah group is openly funded by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Among the 13-point list handed to Doha, cutting ties to Iran would prove incredibly difficult. Qatar shares a massive offshore natural gas field with Iran which supplies the small nation that will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup its wealth.

If Qatar agrees to comply, the list asserts that it will be audited once a month for the first year, and then once per quarter in the second year after it takes effect. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.

Iran was among the first who came to Qatar's assistance once the blockade against the Arab state was in effect. Ten plane-loads of food sent to Doha, was Tehran's initial act in a game with her regional rivals. Iranian officials claim that now, 1100 tons of food is shipped daily to Qatar.

While the new list of demands has insisted on functioning as an encompassing document, it is apparently influenced by the rising tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Tensions between Tehran and Riyadh have been on the rise in recent months following controversial comments by the new Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in early May. Then the third in line to the Saudi throne, the Prince warned Iran that his country would not wait for the battle to be in Saudi Arabia. "Instead we will work so that the battle is for them in Iran, not in Saudi Arabia", Mohammad Bin Salman had said.
A short while later, Tehran accused its regional foe of supporting what the Iranian leaders referred to as "Takfiri terrorists".

Whatever the next stages of this conflict might be, Qatar is the latest phase of the already full-fledged proxy war between the two major regional players.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters