Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic war with Qatar is spiraling out of control. After cutting ties with Doha, the Saudis issued several demands to bring the Qataris back into the Sunni fold. One of the chief demands was scaling back friendly relations with Shia powerhouse Iran, Saudi Arabia’s primary geopolitical rival. Now, the Qataris are firing back with a list of their own demands, a move that has Riyadh seeing red.
Most notably, the Saudis are taking issue with Qatar’s request to “internationalize” Islamic holy sites peppered throughout the Saudi kingdom.
“Qatar’s request to internationalize the holy sites is an aggressive act and a declaration of war against the kingdom,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told Al-Arabiya Sunday. “We reserve the right to respond to any party working in the field of internationalization of the holy sites.”
The foreign minister added that the kingdom is making a concerted effort to welcome all Muslim religious pilgrims, including those from Qatar.
“Saudi Arabia rejects Qatar’s attempt to politicize the arrival of Qatari pilgrims into the kingdom,” he stressed. “The kingdom’s history is clear in facilitating the arrival of pilgrims. … Saudi Arabia welcomes the Qataris to perform Hajj like the rest of the pilgrims.”