Qatar can’t be allowed to own landmarks and businesses in the US and Europe while using the proceeds to finance extremist groups, the UAE’s ambassador to Washington said, as a media war between a Saudi-led alliance and their Gulf neighbour intensifies.
“Qatar cannot own stakes in the Empire State Building and the London Shard and use the profits to write checks to affiliates of al Qaeda,” Yousef Al Otaiba wrote in an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal on Monday.
Qatar “must take decisive action to deal once and for all with its extremist problem -- to shut down this funding, stop interfering in its neighbours’ internal affairs, and end its media incitement and radicalization,” he wrote.
As the worst crisis in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council enters a second week, Qatar and its opponents are pushing ahead with separate campaigns to court US public opinion. Qatari officials have given interviews to US networks including CNN and CNBC. They’ve also hired former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s firm as its lobbyist, agreeing to pay $2.5 million to get help complying with US money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulations and to stress its efforts to combat global terrorism, according to disclosures filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE last week suspended ties with Qatar, severing air, sea and land links and demanding that it distance itself from Iran and cut the funding of some Islamist groups. Qatar denies sponsoring terrorism and accuses the Saudis of seeking to dominate smaller neighbours.
Kuwaiti and US officials are mediating in the conflict, though there have been conflicting signals from President Donald Trump’s administration.
“I am extremely disappointed,” Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said in an interview published Monday by CNN.
The US “should be the leader trying to break this blockade, and not sitting and watching what’s going on and putting fuel” on the fire.
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