MIDDLE EAST

Qatar ready to defend itself if necessary, defense minister says

QATAR READY TO DEFEND ITSELF IF NECESSARY, DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS

Qatar is prepared to defend itself if necessary, the Gulf Emirate's Defense Minister Khalid al Attiyah said after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have agreed to give Qatar another 48 hours to comply with the list of demands to end their blockade.

Speaking to Sky News Britain, the defense minister said that Qatar felt it had been "stabbed in the back" by friends, dismissing accusations made by the four Arab states that the country supported and harbored terrorist groups.

"I hope we don't come to a stage where a military intervention is made but we always stand ready," he added.

In response to a question whether the defense minister believed neighboring countries were seeking regime change in Qatar, al Attiyah claimed that they were plotting to topple the country's emir.

"In 1996 there was a hard coup attempt. In 2014 there was a soft coup attempt. In 2017 there's been a soft coup attempt," he said.

Underlining that the attitude of Qatar's neighbors were imposing an infringement to the country's sovereignty, the defense minister also said that they were breaching UN conventions and international law.

The Gulf state entered a diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia and other neighbors, which cut ties with Qatar and closed their airspace to commercial flights over alleged terrorism support in June 5.

Diplomatic efforts to resolve the Gulf crisis continue with the help of Kuwait, which also proposed Sunday the extension of the deadline for the demand list.

The countries have threatened to impose further sanctions against Qatar if it does not comply with their list of 13 demands, which was presented to Doha 10 days ago.

The list includes demands for Qatar to shut down a Turkish military base in Doha, close down its Al Jazeera TV channel and curb ties with Iran.

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