Erdogan: Saudi-led demands ‘unlawful intervention’

Press TV- Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says a sweeping list of demands issued by four Arab states is an unlawful intervention against Qatar’s sovereignty and a violation of international law.

Speaking on Sunday, Erdogan said he welcomed Doha’s rejection of the demands “because we consider the 13-point list against international law,” Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency reported.

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Turkey and Iran threw support behind Qatar, and started shipping food to the country after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates severed diplomatic ties, and cut all land, sea, and air contacts with the emirate on June 5.

“What we are talking about here is an attack on the sovereign rights of a state,” Erdogan said, adding “there cannot be such an attack on countries’ sovereignty rights in international law.”

Qatar on Saturday denounced the ultimatum as unreasonable and an impingement on its sovereignty.

The sanctioning countries accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region, allegations vehemently denied by Doha.

The punitive measures have raised human rights concerns, with UK-based rights body Amnesty International saying the sanctioning countries are toying with the lives of thousands of Persian Gulf residents as part of their dispute with Doha.

The demands include Qatar shutting down its Al Jazeera news network, which has ruffled feathers time and again among Saudi Arabia and its allies with its critiques, as well as limiting its ties with Iran and closing down a Turkish military base.

Erdogan dismissed calls for Turkey to close the military base in Qatar, calling it a “disrespect” to his country.

Turkey has sent two contingents of troops with columns of armored vehicles to Qatar since the crisis erupted on June 5, with Defense Minister Fikri Isik saying further reinforcements would be beneficial.

According to Hurriyet newspaper, the two countries will hold a joint exercise following the Eid al-Fitr holiday which started on Sunday.

The report said the number of Turkish troops sent to Qatar could eventually reach 1,000, with an air force contingent also envisaged.