Turkey’s Erdogan condemns Qatar blockade ‘death sentence’

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Turkey’s president has criticised moves by Qatar’s Gulf neighbours to isolate the emirate as “inhumane”.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the blockade of the peninsula amounted to a “death penalty” and reiterated Turkey’s commitment to supporting its ally.

“It is neither humane nor Islamic to attempt to isolate a country’s people in every area from food, to drink, to travel, to commerce, to worship,” he said in a parliamentary speech.

President Tayyip Erdogan
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Erdogan said Qatar has made a “decisive stance” against terrorism

The comments come more than a week after a group of Arab states including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates cut trade links to Qatar, accusing the state of supporting terrorism.

The gas-rich peninsula, which is connected to Saudi Arabia, denies it has been aiding groups like Islamic State.

In his speech Erdogan said: “Qatar has shown the most decisive stance against the terrorist organisation Islamic State alongside Turkey.

“Victimising Qatar through smear campaigns serves no purpose.”

In a move that came as a surprise to many, Gulf states expelled Qatari nationals from their territory, giving them two weeks to leave, and banned Qatar’s national airline from entering their airspace.

Map of the countries isolating Qatar
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Qataris being isolated by its Gulf neighbours

They also shut down trade with the country, sparking fears of food shortages in a country that before the week’s action brought in 80% of its food supply from the Gulf countries that surround it.

Iran, which lies across the Gulf from Qatar, has joined Erdogan in committing to support its isolated ally.

It has begun importing hundreds of tonnes of food supplies and opened up its airspace to more than 100 new Qatari flights.

Tuesday also saw Erdogan commit to holding three way talks regarding the crisis, with French President Emmanuel Macron and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, on the line.

Egypt and Yemen joined in the blockade, passing measures against Doha.

Customers queuing at a market
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Customers flocked to supermarkets in anticipation of food shortages

Other countries, including Gulf state Kuwait, have joined in attempts to heal the rift in the region.

Vladimir Putin met Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Tuesday, following a meeting with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdelrahman Al Thani over the weekend.

Saudi news agencies said the talks were concerned with “bilateral relations and counter terrorism efforts”, but Russia’s state-run Tass news agency said Putin and King Salman discussed tensions around Qatar.

The UK Government, meanwhile, has expressed concern that the Gulf states will have an adverse effect on the lives of Qatari people.



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