Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s plane landed in the western Saudi city of Jeddah on Friday ahead of a meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in the holy city of Mecca in a bid to broker a solution to the unprecedented crisis.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates severed ties with Qatar in early June, officially accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region, which Doha strongly denies. In their apparent bid to secure US support and that of Israel, they further suspended all land, air and sea traffic with Qatar, expelled its diplomats and ordered Qatari citizens to leave their countries.
Cavusoglu’s visit to Saudi Arabia came a day after he met with his Kuwaiti counterpart to find a solution to the crisis. Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, whose country did not sever ties with Doha, has also been engaged in shuttle diplomacy to help mediate between the two opposing sides, but so far all to no avail.
Ahead of his Saudi trip, Cavusoglu also paid a visit to Doha on Wednesday, when he called for dialogue after meeting with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
To further pressure Qatar, Saudi Arabia has totally closed its land border with its tiny neighbor, through which much of Qatar’s food supply crossed. Iran and Turkey are now providing Qatar’s required food supplies. The Persian Gulf Arab states further gave Qataris two weeks to leave their countries and ordered home their own citizens living in Qatar.
The punitive measures against Qatar have drawn condemnation from rights groups, including Amnesty International. On June 10 and 13, the UK-based prominent rights group slammed the Saudi measures against Qatar, saying the diplomatic dispute has been toying with thousands of lives.
‘Saudi siege harsher than Berlin Wall’
Meanwhile, Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee Chairman Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri said at a press conference in the Swiss city of Geneva that the so-called punitive measures amounted to “collective punishment,” citing one case of a mother being separated from her baby.
Describing the measure as “harsher than the Berlin Wall” in separating members of families, he further said the siege had led to “gross violations of human rights.”
The coordinated move against Qatar is spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, which often manages to have its vassal states fall into line. Saudi Arabia itself is known as the main sponsor of the violent Wahhabi terrorists it has accused Qatar of supporting. Some analysts believe the Saudi anger is rather because Qatar acts more independently of Riyadh, including partially in its relations with Iran.