Saudi Arabia threatens Qatar with military action over Russian missile deal: Report

#GulfTensions

King Salman expresses to French President Macron 'deep concern' over the air defence system and warns of escalation

Saudi Arabia has threatened Qatar not to buy Russian missile system (AFP)
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Saturday 2 June 2018 12:12 UTC
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Saudi Arabia has warned against Qatar acquiring Russian missiles, threatening military action against its neighbour, French daily Le Monde reported.

The newspaper reported on Friday that Riyadh had written to French President Emmanuel Macron asking him to scupper Qatar's deal with Russia to buy an S-400 air defence missile system, for the sake of regional stability.

There was no immediate official reaction to the report from Macron's office or the French Foreign Ministry.

Saudi Arabia, backed by other regional powers including Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, broke off relations with Qatar in June last year, accusing the Gulf state of supporting radical Islamist groups and of being too close to Iran - Riyadh's arch-rival in the region.

They subsequently imposed economic sanctions on Qatar, which has consistently rejected the charges against it.

In an effort to ease its isolation, Qatar has sought new friends, including Russia.

In January, it announced that talks with Moscow on supplying the sophisticated S-400 system were at an "advanced stage".

Le Monde said that in the letter sent to the French president, Saudi King Salman had expressed his "deep concern" with the discussions between Doha and Moscow and warned about the risk of escalation.

Saudi Arabia "would be ready to take all necessary measures to eliminate this defence system, including military action," the newspaper wrote.

A year since the blockade of Qatar began, hostilities between the sides remain and in May Qatar ordered any goods from Saudi Arabia or the UAE to be removed from stores.

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa also said last week, in an interview with the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, that there was no "glimmer of hope" for an end to the crisis.