UAE seeking 'change of policy, not regime' in Qatar: Minister

Posted June 11, 2017

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi's comments in an interview with The Associated Press came as Emirati officials also announced those offering support to Qatar online could face years in prison and fines for offering sympathy to the country, suggesting the crisis will only intensify. Kuwait's emir traveled to Qatar to help mediate an end to a crisis that's seen Arab nations cut ties to the energy-rich nation home to a major USA military base, though Emirati officials warned there was "nothing to negotiate".

In another development, the central African nation of Chad has recalled its ambassador from Qatar, joining Saudi Arabia and other nations who have moved to isolate the Gulf country over allegations it supports terrorism.

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday.

Qatar has repeatedly denied those charges.

"The great escalation from the confusing and confused brother country and the request for political protection from two non-Arab countries and military protection from one of them could be a new tragic and comic chapter", Anwar Gargash, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, wrote on Twitter, referring to Iran and Turkey.

In Germany, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir also said he wants to see a response from the Arab countries' demands "soon".

The UAE threatened to impose an economic embargo against Qatar while Bahrain said "any options" were on the table as the crisis in the Gulf showed no signs of abating on Thursday.

Al-Jubeir said it was "with great pain" that the measures against Qatar were taken. The official said there were enough grain supplies in the market in Qatar to last four weeks and that the government also had large strategic food reserves in Doha.

The administration of Saudi-backed and resigned Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Libya, the Maldives, Djibouti, Senegal and the Comoros later joined the camp in ending diplomatic ties.

The Kuwaiti emir also went to the UAE and Qatar Wednesday for more consultations.

The embassy in Abu Dhabi posted the warning on its Facebook wall, saying the UAE government has announced a ban on comments or posts about the diplomatic crisis on social media.

Opposing the UAE's new policies against Qatar, which Al Shamsi said were taken for the country's interests and national security, could be punished by up to 15 years in jail, Emirati Arabic news website Albayan reported.

"The Qataris should not count on that base as being a guarantee of sort of American protection when it comes to conflict with Saudi Arabia", Al Qassemi said.