A coalition of Arab countries are poised to announce whether to escalate or abandon sanctions against Qatar on Wednesday, a month after they severed ties with the Gulf state.
Foreign ministers representing Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain met in Cairo on Wednesday, a day after the deadline expired for Qatar to respond to the group’s list of demands.
Qatar faces a protracted period of isolation, and possibly expulsion, from the Gulf Co-operation Council if the Middle Eastern country’s response to the demands is deemed unsatisfactory.
Last month, on June 22, Gulf States issued a 13-point list of demands to resolve the ongoing dispute and gave Qatar 10 days to respond. On Sunday, the deadline was extended by 48 hours.
The standoff revolves around allegations that Doha supports Islamist militants, including the Muslim brotherhood. The latter is recognized as a terrorist group by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE. Qatar denies backing terrorist organizations and has accused neighboring Arab countries of attempting to seize control of its foreign policy.
While the clash between Qatar and a coalition of Arab states is still being negotiated, senior Gulf diplomats have reportedly suggested a settlement is unlikely. Ahead of the announcement, Qatar’s foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani told Reuters the actions taken to date by Saudi Arabia and its allies had been “clear aggression and insult.”
Qatar had previously described the demands as “unrealistic and not actionable”.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE have enacted a series of unprecedented diplomatic and economic measures against Doha, such as severing political ties, closing land, sea and air links, and expelling Qatari nationals from their countries.
Qatar has reportedly responded to the demands, but no details have been released publically.
Earlier on Wednesday, Moody’s rating agency slashed its outlook for the emirate’s sovereign credit rating to “negative” from “stable”, despite Qatar ramping up its lucrative LNG exports in the midst of a tense diplomatic crisis.
Qatar crisis: Saudi Arabia and allies meet to decide whether to extend sanctions