3 years of ‘isolation’: Qatar denies rumors it plans to exit Gulf bloc
Qatar has denied that it plans to quit the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), as Doha prepares to mark three years of isolation led by the regional bloc’s heavyweight Saudi Arabia. The gas-rich state cautioned, however, that the effort to isolate Doha economically and politically meant people in the region were “doubting” the GCC.
Rumors of Qatar’s imminent departure from the GCC, founded in 1981 and headquartered in Riyadh, have been swirling in Gulf capitals in recent weeks. Qatar’s Assistant Foreign Minister Lolwah Al-Khater told AFP that “reports claiming that Qatar is considering leaving the GCC are wholly incorrect and baseless.”
“As we are reaching the third year of the illegal blockade on Qatar by Saudi, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, there is no wonder why the people of the GCC are doubting and questioning the GCC as an institution,” the official said.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, along with non-GCC member Egypt, abruptly cut diplomatic, economic and travel ties with Doha in June 2017 over their insistence that Qatar was too close to Iran and was backing radical Islamist movements. Qatar rejected the charge and refused to budge on any of the 13 demands made by its former allies.