Saudi Arabia to transform its border with Qatar into a military zone

Saudi Arabia to transform its border with Qatar into a military zone
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RIYADH - Saudi Arabia to transform its only land border with Qatar into a military zone and nuclear waste site, state-linked Saudi newspapers reported on Monday.

The project has not been given official approval and faces many obstacles. Still, the proposal signals a new low in the 10-month-old feud between Qatar and a quartet of nations that includes Saudi Arabia , the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain.

The four accuse Qatar of sponsoring terrorism because of its support for miltant opposition groups in the region and its warm relations with Iran. Qatar denies the allegations and says the moves attempt to undermine its sovereignty.

Qatar's ruling emir, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, met in Washington on Monday with United States Defence Secretary Jim Mattis. He is scheduled to meet President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia 's *Sabq* and *al-Riyadh*newspapers carried nearly identical reports Monday saying that under the proposal, Saudi Arabia would transform part of its side of the border with Qatar into a military base and another area would become a dump site for waste from nuclear reactors the kingdom wants to build.

The UAE, meanwhile, would also build a nuclear waste site at the closest point near its border with Qatar.

An earlier report by *Sabq* newspaper ran with a headline saying the canal project would “turn Qatar into an island” and would take just 12 months to complete.

The so-called Salwa Marine Canal project would be funded by Saudi and Emirati investors and dug by Egyptian companies with experience in the Suez Canal.

*Sabq* reports the canal would span the entirety of the border with Qatar, creating waterfront coastline for resorts, private beaches and Gulf cruise liners. The canal, estimated to cost 2.8 billion riyals ($750 million), would stretch 200 meters wide and up to 20 meters deep.

Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, became the first high-ranking official to comment on the proposal. In a string of tweets, he said the project is “proof of Qatar's failure to manage and solve its crisis” and that Doha's silence on the canal project “is proof of their fear and confusion.” Qatari government spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Middle East