Qatar says sanctions violate international law

Qatar says sanctions violate international law
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani (Osama Faisal/AP)

Qatar's foreign minister says that sanctions imposed upon his country violate international law, calling the moves by Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations an "unjust siege".

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced four days ago that they would withdraw their diplomatic staff from Qatar, further deepening a rift between the Gulf Arab nations over the country’s support for Islamist groups.

Speaking in the German town of Wolfenbuettel on Friday alongside German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani also said that his nation's hope was for diplomacy and dialogue.

He asked: "What crime did Qatar commit to deserve such a punishment that violates international law?"

Mr Gabriel said it was important to prevent any "further escalation" and that Germany was willing to help with any negotiations, noting that other diplomatic efforts were already being made by the US, Kuwait and others - and that he was "optimistic" they would be able to organise talks.

For its part, Bahrain blamed Qatar’s “media incitement, support for armed terrorist activities and funding linked to Iranian groups to carry out sabotage and spreading chaos in Bahrain” for its decision to cut ties.

The countries are most worried about Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood – a Sunni Islamist political group outlawed by both Saudi Arabia and the UAE as it challenges those nations’ hereditary rule.

Qatar has strongly denied funding extremist groups but remains a key financial patron of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and has been the home of exiled Hamas official Khaled Mashaal since 2012.

Western officials have also accused Qatar of allowing or even encouraging funding of Sunni extremists like al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, once known as the Nusra Front.

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