Though the details are not yet a matter of public record, US officials are confirming that Saudi Arabia and its allies have prepared a “list of demands” for Qatar related to ending the blockade of the tiny Persian Gulf nation. It is not clear if the Qataris have been given the demands yet, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying he hopes they will be presented with them “soon.”
While we don’t know the content of this list of demands, we do still have the huge list of demands given to Qatar by Saudi Arabia two weeks ago, which may well form the basis for this latest list. This included severing all diplomatic ties with Iran, the permanent shut down of al-Jazeera, and a pledge never publicly contradict any GCC member nations, among other things.
Qatari officials had already ruled out that set of demands, insisting they wouldn’t sacrifice their national sovereignty over the blockade. Tillerson today said he wanted the list of demands to be “reasonable,” which may point to them trying to dial back some of the most extreme aspects of it.
The split between Qatar and the other nations has its origins in the Arab Spring, and resentment among the other GCC nations that al-Jazeera was generally favorable in coverage of pro-democracy protesters in the region. This has made the demand to permanently shut down the popular news network a key focus, and likely one that will find its way, in some form, into this latest list.
The US interest, according to State Department officials, is primarily to just get this resolved one way or another, as they’ve expressed annoyance at the situation having seemingly stagnated with both sides refusing to budge, and US officials are expressing concern that the blockade may ultimately start inconveniencing some of America’s many regional wars, as Qatar hosts the main US military base in the Middle East.