Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have vowed to take “political, economic and legal measures” after Qatar’s refusal to accept a list of demands presented by the four countries.
In a joint statement released late on Thursday, the Saudi-led group also blamed Qatar for “continuing to seek to sabotage and undermine the security and stability in the [Persian] Gulf region”, Al Jazeera reported.
“All political, economic and legal measures will be taken in the manner and at the time deemed appropriate to preserve the four countries’ rights, security and stability,” the statement said.
On Monday, Qatar delivered its response to a list of 13 demands from Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries that have cut ties with it and imposed a land, air and sea embargo amid a major diplomatic crisis.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said the country will do “whatever it takes to protect our people”, as he accused the Persian Gulf Arab states of trying to undermine his nation’s sovereignty.
The group severed air, sea and ground links with Qatar, cutting off vital routes for imports including food.
They also ordered Qatari citizens to leave their territories and took various steps against Qatari firms and financial institutions.
On June 22, they issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of Al Jazeera, as a prerequisite to lift the sanctions, which include the closure of Qatar’s only land border and suspension of all flights to and from the country.
Saudi Arabia and its allies now consider the demands, sent via mediator Kuwait, “null and void” as the Qatari government had “thwarted all diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis”, the statement added.
The US state department has warned that the Arab crisis between Qatar and its neighbors is at an impasse and could potentially drag on for weeks or even months.
The US believes the crisis could “possibly even intensify”, Heather Nauert, the spokeswoman for the state department, said on Thursday.
Nauert did not specify what type of escalation the US fears, but she said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson remains in close contact with the countries involved.
“We remain very concerned about that ongoing situation between Qatar and [P]GCC countries,” she said.
“We’ve become increasingly concerned that that dispute is at an impasse at this point. We believe that this could potentially drag on for weeks. It could drag on for months.”
Later on Thursday, a State Department statement said Tillerson will be travelling to Kuwait on Monday to discuss efforts to resolve the Arab crisis.
The White House on Thursday confirmed that President Donald Trump discussed the Qatar-Arab crisis with German Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of the G20 summit that starts on Friday.
In a phone conversation with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday, Egypt’s top diplomat Sameh Shoukry reiterated the four Arab states’ “position of rejecting Qatar’s support for terrorism and extremism”.
Also on Thursday, Saudi Arabia accused Doha of being behind more than 23,000 Twitter accounts it blames for trying to stoke dissent in Saudi Arabia.
“We found over 23,000 Twitter accounts driven by Qatar, some of them linked to accounts calling for ‘revolution’ in Saudi Arabia,” Saudi Information Minister Awwad Saleh al-Awwad told AFP news agency during a visit to the French capital Paris.