Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the UAE have given Qatar 48 more hours to submit to a list of demands presented to the emirate ten days ago. The demands included things like closing Al Jazeera TV and other news outlets, cutting off its ties with Iran outside trade, and no more funding extremist organizations – something Qatar has consistently denied.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister said, as quoted by Bloomberg, that the demands were “submitted to be rejected,” although it seems that the four countries that made them expected Doha to quickly surrender. It hasn’t done so, leaning on Iran, Turkey, and other international support for peaceful reconciliation. And of course, further muddying the waters, the UAE is heavily dependent on Qatari gas.
The four countries said in their most recent statement that they expect Qatar to respond to the demands by late Tuesday or early Wednesday, and an answer “will then be sent following the study of the Qatari government's response and assessment of its response to the whole demands.”
There is little to suggest Qatar will change its mind about the steep demands by Wednesday, which will leave the Saudi-Arabia led group with several options, excluding armed escalation, which analysts consider highly unlikely. Related: OPEC’s Crude Exports To The U.S. Near All-Time Lows
According to analysts who spoke to Bloomberg, the most obvious choice would be to leave things as they, are to or tighten the restrictions already in place, making it harder for foreign companies and individuals to do business with Qatar.
Another option on the table is approaching common international partners and asking them to join the embargo. This, however, would not be a very smart choice: Europe, the U.S., or Japan are unlikely to agree to such a request.
Forcing Qatar out of the Gulf Cooperation Council is also a possibility, but not a very likely one unless the group manages to convince Kuwait—which has spearheaded reconciliation efforts—and Oman, which has stayed completely neutral, to vote for the expulsion.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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