As the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar stretched into its third week, the Arab states leading the boycott have presented a list of 13 ultimatums to their tiny neighbor. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the other boycotting nations have insisted Qatar meet the demands within ten days if it wants to end its economic and diplomatic isolation — or the deal is off. The wish list includes shutting down Al Jazeera and cutting ties with Iran, which are pretty much a nonstarters for the Qatari leadership — meaning this regional crisis is still far from a resolution.
The Arab states delivered their demands care of Kuwait, which is the go-between for Qatar and the Saudi-led coalition that has accused Qatar of funding terrorist groups, and is generally not pleased with its ties to Iran. Doha has said it won’t even begin negotiations until its neighbors lift the blockade, but, Art of the Deal–style, the Saudis evidently feel that they are negotiating from a position of strength. Also, the United States had reportedly put pressure on Riyadh and others to draw up their wish list to try to end the standoff. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. hoped the demands would be “reasonable and actionable.”
Qatar probably wouldn’t describe the this list as “reasonable” or “actionable.” The big request — that Qatar shut down the ruling-family-owned Al Jazeera and its affiliates — likely won’t get any traction. The Saudis and their partners loathe Al Jazeera because they see it as a populist threat to the their rule, and also bristle over the global profile it gives to the tiny little state. Cutting off diplomatic ties with Iran will also be extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, because Qatar shares a natural gas field with Iran. Tehran has also come to Qatar’s rescue during this standoff, sending food and other supplies, though it’s as much a show of goodwill as an attempt to stir up its rivalry with the Saudis.
The Saudis and company are also ordering Qatar to cut off all ties and end funding with terror groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, ISIS, and Al Qaeda; stop harboring anyone with ties to those terror groups, and turn over any individuals wanted for terror ties; pay some sort of reparations to the Saudi-led coalition for “loss of life” and other financial damages; kick Turkey’s military out of Qatar; and agree to monthly audits to make sure these and other conditions are being met. More broadly, the Saudis and their allies want Qatar, the outlier in the region, squarely within their orbit of influence.