Saudi using Haj for blackmail: French daily

Saudi Arabia is using “Al Hajj” to exploit and politically blackmail African countries which have a Muslim majority to push them to snap ties with Qatar, French newspaper Le Monde has said.

The newspaper said that “Saudi Arabia is exerting heavy pressure on African countries to sever relations with Qatar”.

It also said that Saudi Arabia uses two ways to exert pressure on these countries—  it first threatens to cut aid, which, however, is not big, and it threatens to make Haj and Umrah visa procedures difficult for them.

A number of Arabic and African countries have maintained their neutrality. Morocco, Algeria Tunisia, Sudan, and Somalia have asked for dialogue to solve the crisis, said the newspaper.

There are reports suggesting that Somalia, which has not cut ties with Qatar, has been offered aid (bribe) amounting to $80m, to cut its ties with Qatar but “Somalia has rejected the offer”.

It also said that there is some pressure on Somalia to change its neutral stance amid the crisis.

Countries like Ethiopia have said they back Kuwait’s mediation efforts to end the Gulf diplomatic dispute while Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has offered to mediate between Qatar and the three Gulf states.

For his side, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan previously requested the full removal of a Saudi-led blockade of Qatar and has approved the deployment of Turkish troops there.

Mauritania, Maldives, and Comoros have cut ties with Qatar though most countries have maintained normal relations with Doha and are asking for dialogue to resolve the issue.

Reports of protest marches in support of Qatar have come from Mauritania and Comoros even though the governments of the two nations have snapped ties with Doha.

There have been reports of demonstrations supporting Qatar from the Gaza Strip.

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