DUBAI (Dispatches) – Qatar has accused Saudi Arabia of allowing a protracted dispute to hinder Persian Gulf coordination over the coronavirus outbreak by denying the Qatari health minister timely access to a meeting of regional health ministers in Riyadh.
Qatar’s foreign ministry said in a post on its official Twitter account that Saudi Arabia had only granted an entry permit to Public Health Minister Hanan al-Kuwari after the meeting at the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) General Secretariat on Wednesday had already started.
"We are surprised to see that Saudi is politicizing a humanitarian sector, that requires close collaboration and coordination due to the urgency of the situation,” the English-language statement issued on Thursday said.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and non-GCC Egypt have imposed a political, economic and trade boycott on Qatar since mid-2017 over allegations it supports terrorism and is cozying up to regional foe Iran.
Libya, the Maldives, Djibouti, Senegal and the Comoros later joined the camp in ending diplomatic ties with Doha. Jordan downgraded its diplomatic relations as well.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry later announced that the decision to cut diplomatic ties was unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.
On June 9, 2017, Qatar strongly dismissed allegations of supporting terrorism after the Saudi regime and its allies blacklisted dozens of individuals and entities purportedly associated with Doha.
Later that month, Saudi Arabia and its allies released a 13-point list of demands, including the closure of al-Jazeera television network and downgrade of relations with Iran, in return for the normalization of diplomatic relations with Doha.
The document also asked Qatar to sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement.
Qatar rejected the demands as "unreasonable.”