Gang of Four


Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt have decided to circumvent international law and gang up on Qatar, issuing “13 Demands” (listed below).

On a deeper level this is orchestrated dramatic tension, but for now I’ll just play in their sandbox.

This regional Gang of Four could have initiated action in the UN Security Council or General Assembly, but did not. They could have pursued the case in front of the World Court, or even the International Criminal Court, but did not.

For all we know, each and every one of their demands is entirely baseless. They all appear to be ludicrous demands. The ones regarding “compensation” and “monthly audits” are especially hilarious.

Apparently Trump is going along with all this (“Gang of Five”?) although Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had earlier said that any demands should be “reasonable and actionable,” rightly implying that they were not.

I landed in Manila, the Philippines this morning, and went to the usual Mom-and-Pop money changer. These tiny storefronts in high traffic areas will change pretty much every currency around. Except for money from Qatar, as of a few days ago.

There was a note scriblled to this effect, and taped up to the window. I asked about it. The lady said there has been “a hold” on changing money from Qatar. The Saudis have quite a long reach, it seems.

The 13 Demands

1. Curb diplomatic ties with Iran and close its diplomatic missions there. Expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard from Qatar and cut off any joint military cooperation with Iran. Only trade and commerce with Iran that complies with US and international sanctions will be permitted.

2. Sever all ties to “terrorist organisations,” specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, the Daesh militant group, Al Qaida, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare those entities as terrorist groups.

3. Shut down Al Jazeera and its affiliate stations.

4. Shut down news outlets that Qatar funds, directly and indirectly, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al Jadeed and Middle East Eye.

5. Immediately terminate the Turkish military presence currently in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside of Qatar.

6. Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organizations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, the United States and other countries.

7. Hand over “terrorist figures” 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.

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

9. Stop all contacts with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over all files detailing Qatar’s prior contacts with and support for those opposition groups.

10. 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.

11. Align itself with the other Gulf and Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically, as well as on economic matters, in line with an agreement reached with Saudi Arabia in 2014.

12. Agree to all the demands within 10 days of it being submitted to Qatar, or the list becomes invalid. The document doesn’t specify what the countries will do if Qatar refuses to comply.

13. Consent to monthly audits for the first year after agreeing to the demands, then once per quarter during the second year. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.

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