Erdogan’s comments marked the strongest intervention yet by a powerful regional ally of Doha eight days after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar and applied stringent economic sanctions on it.
Later on Tuesday, the UAE ambassador to the United States, which has an air base in Qatar, said there was no military component to the steps taken against Doha.
Qatar denies accusations that it supports Islamist militants and Shi’ite Iran, arch regional foe of the Sunni Gulf Arab monarchies.
“A very grave mistake is being made in Qatar; isolating a nation in all areas is inhumane and against Islamic values. It’s as if a death penalty decision has been taken for Qatar,” Erdogan told members of his ruling AK Party in Ankara.
“Qatar has shown the most decisive stance against the terrorist organisation Islamic State alongside Turkey. Victimising Qatar through smear campaigns serves no purpose.”
The measures against Qatar, a small oil and gas exporter with a population of 2.7 million people, have disrupted imports of food and other materials and caused some foreign banks to scale back business.
The UAE envoy, Yousef Al Otaiba, told reporters in Washington: “There is absolutely no military component to anything that we are doing.”
“I have spoken and seen (U.S. Defense Secretary) General (Jim) Mattis four times in the last week; we’ve given them our complete assurance that the steps we have taken will not affect in anyway Al Udeid base or any operations supporting or regarding the base,” Otaiba said.