The Gulf states demanding that Qatar ends its independent-minded foreign policy and alleged support for extremism have said they are considering further economic pressure on the tiny country, such as reducing commercial links with states that continue to trade with Doha.
The warning, the latest escalation in the three-week dispute, was made by Omar Ghobash, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to Moscow and one of the most articulate figures in the row that has racked the region.
Speaking to the Guardian, he said the coalition would be willing to make themselves subject to the same western monitoring regime as Qatar to ensure key figures were not privately funding extremist groups.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain have imposed an economic and diplomatic embargo on Qatar, claiming its ruling family has been harbouring terrorists and funding extremism for years.
They have tabled 13 demands, and said Qatar must comply by next week or face further as yet unspecified consequences. The demands include cutting ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, closing the broadcaster al-Jazeera and reducing ties with Iran.
The US and most European capitals have been trying to push the two sides into talks in an effort to de-escalate the row, fearing that if the dispute continues indefinitely Qatar will be forced into the arms of Iran – the country that is doing most to undermine the impact of the embargo by sending food supplies to Doha.
Speaking in London, Ghobash said expulsion of Qatar from the Gulf Cooperation Council – often raised as a possible sanction – was not the only sanction available.
He added: “Their position today anyway is inconsistent with being members of the GCC because it is a common security and defence organisation. There are certain economic sanctions that we can take which are being considered right now. “One possibility would be to impose conditions on our own trading partners and say you want to work with us then you have got to make a commercial choice. “If Qatar was not willing to accept the demands, it is a case of ‘Goodbye Qatar’ we do not need you in our tent any more.”