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Iranian President Says Siege of Qatar Unacceptable


U.S. Republican Senator Bob Corker said on Monday that he will not agree to any arms sales to countries in the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) until its current dispute with Qatar is solved.

Even the U.S., Saudi Arabia's trusty ally, is skeptical that they can be satisfied, with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying Sunday that the list of demands would be "very hard to meet".

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the Saudi-led blockade against Qatar has sparked a humanitarian crisis inside the country, since critical deliveries of food and medicine have been held up as a result of the GCC action.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed sanctions on the country on June 5, accusing it of supporting "terrorism".

The closure of the broadcaster is said to be one of 13 wide-ranging demands placed on Doha by Saudi Arabia and its allies as the price for lifting their nearly three-week-long "blockade" of Qatar.

Responding to the demands, Meshal Hamad al-Thani, Qatar's ambassador to the United States, tweeted that the list was meant to "punish Qatar for its independence".

The listed demands include the shutdown of the state-funded Al-Jazeera television network, and a severing of relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and any group designated by the a foreign terrorist organization (FTO).

A government spokesman in Doha said the list confirmed that "the illegal blockade has nothing to do with combating terrorism - it is about limiting Qatar's sovereignty, and outsourcing our foreign policy".

This hardline stance goes against both Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary Tillerson's more diplomatic calls for an equitable solution among the Gulf States and their associates.

According to diplomats and analysts briefed by Bloomberg and Reuters, the demands are severe, and Qatar is likely to reject them. Besides, Qatar would have to pay to the demanding countries certain compensations, and all the terms should be observed within ten days.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has been working the phones for weeks in a bid to end the rift involving USA allies, issued a carefully worded statement Sunday leaning toward Qatar's argument that the demands - or some of them at least - are unrealistic. "Any effort to silence journalists or use news organisations as a bargaining chip is an affront to freedom", the statement said. He urged them to "lower rhetoric" to ease tensions.

"The siege of Qatar is unacceptable to us..."

"US President Trump's recent giant military contracts which Gulf monarchies raise the risk of a new spiral in arms sales", said Gabriel.

It was unclear what power Corker has to stop what the administration has said were $110 billion worth of arms deals signed with the Saudis during President Trump's trip there last month.

Qatar also hosts the Middle East's largest concentration of USA military personnel, with 11,000 people.