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Saudi commentator threatens Qatar with same fate as Egypt's 'Rabaa Square'

Commentator linked to various Saudi media outlets says confrontation with Qatar could become a deadly 'Rabaa square'
At least 817 protesters were fatally shot on 14 August 2013, in Rabaa al-Adawiya square, according to HRW (AFP)

A column in the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper threatened Qatar with the same outcome as the Rabaa massacre in Egypt, where security forces killed hundreds of protesters who opposed the coup against President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Human Rights Watch has accused Egypt of killing more than 1,150 demonstrators in the wake of the coup, with at least 817 protesters fatally shot overnight on 14 August 2013 in Rabaa al-Adawiya square alone.

On Wednesday, Abdulrahman Al-Rashed, the former general manager of Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV, warned Qatar that it may face a similar treatment to the Egyptian protesters who stood against then-general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi: violent annihilation.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, closing their borders, airspace and territorial waters to Qatari ships and airplanes. The four countries have submitted a list of 13 demands to Doha that they have held as non-negotiable requirements to lift the blockade.

They include shutting down Al Jazeera media network, closing a Turkish military base in Qatar, cutting relations with Iran and paying compensation for the “victims” of Qatari policies from the four nations.

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Qatar denies accusations that it supports terrorist groups and has criticised Saudi Arabia and its allies for their unwillingness to negotiate to end the crisis.

Comparing Qatar to a trapped cat, Al-Rashed said the only way out of the diplomatic impasse is for Doha to reach an understanding with its neighbours and agree to the 13 conditions.

“Iran’s Supreme Leader will do you no good and neither will Turkish soldiers, or US circles that believe in half solutions, or German statements,” he wrote. “None of the parties that you resorted to will save you.”

Qatar is home to a large US airbase, and Washington diplomats have been working to resolve the crisis, in spite of President Donald Trump’s tweets and statements in support of Riyadh against Doha.

Turkey deployed troops to Doha earlier this month after the crisis started, as the Turkish parliament rushed to ratify a military agreement with Qatar.

While the prospects of a military confrontation seem dim, the Saudi columnist was explicit in his threat.

"Doha is threatening that confrontation will lead to a similar result of the "Safwan Tent", but we fear it will become 'Rabaa Square'," Al-Rashed wrote.

The Safwan Tent meeting between Iraqi and US officials in 1991 resulted in the ceasefire agreement that ended the first Gulf War while preserving the government of Baghdad.

This is not the first time that Saudi commentators and officials have threatened Qatar.

Last month, Salman al-Ansari, president of the US-based Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee lobbying group, threatened Qatar's emir with the same fate as Morsi.

"To Qatar's emir, as for your siding with the extremist government of Iran and your insults to the the custodian of the two holy mosques (the Saudi king), I would like to remind you that Mohamed Morsi did the same thing, and he was toppled and jailed," al-Ansari tweeted.

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