Qatar to seek compensation for damages from Arab blockade

Qatar's government said Sunday it is forming a committee to pursue compensation for damages stemming from its isolation by four Arab countries.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties and severed air, land and sea links with natural gas-rich Qatar last month, accusing it of a list of grievances including supporting extremism. Qatar has denied the allegations, and has characterized the bloc's ultimatums as an affront to its sovereignty.

Qatari Public Prosecutor Ali Al-Marri told reporters in the Qatari capital, Doha, that the committee will handle claims made by private companies, public institutions and individuals.

He gave few details, but said the body would use both domestic and international mechanisms to seek compensation, and will hire overseas law firms to handle its claims.

"You have people who have sustained damages, businessmen who have sustained damages, banks which have sustained damages. As a result of this blockade." he said. "And those who compelled these damages to happen must pay compensation for them."

Members of the newly-formed committee include Qatar's minister of justice and minister of foreign affairs.

The Gulf state of Kuwait has been trying, unsuccessfully so far, to mediate the dispute.

On Friday, the anti-Qatar bloc accused Qatar of thwarting all efforts aimed at resolving the rift and said it intends to "continue its policy aimed at destabilizing security in the region."

Al-Marri insisted that the decision to pursue compensation for damages is not tied to current state of negotiations between Qatar and the four bloc countries.

"The difference between politics and law is that in law there is continuity, unlike politics, which could be stopped by certain conditions," he said.