Foreign Minister Says Siege Countries Made Demands Meant to Be Rejected

HE the Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that the four siege countries prepared demands that were meant to be rejected. His Excellency stressed that the demands violated international law and did not look to combat terrorism and instead focused on undermining and infringing on the sovereignty of Qatar, striking down on the freedom of press, and imposing auditing and probation mechanisms against the State of Qatar.

HE the Foreign Minister stressed during a press conference held Saturday in Rome that the countries which imposed the siege presented the list of demands to have them rejected, noting that the State of Qatar wants instead to have a dialogue with suitable conditions. His Excellency said that they are trying to be more practical with Kuwaiti mediation which is coordinated and supported by the United States of America.

HE the Foreign Minister highlighted that the siege imposed on Qatar led to a humanitarian crisis for many families that were separated as a result of these measures. HE the Foreign Minister noted that there were 12 thousand cases of husbands, wives, and children who were separated as a result of these measures. His Excellency stressed that those measures were collective punishment, a violation of international law, and the Charter of the United Nations. His Excellency said that the countries who took those measures did not respect international law.

HE the Foreign Minister added that the siege countries implemented those measures without resorting to the conflict-resolution mechanisms agreed upon in the 2014 Riyadh agreement. HE the Foreign Minister added that even though the demands were made to be rejected, Qatar is trying to be more constructive than the other countries. HE the Foreign Minister said that Qatar had no reservations against discussing any grievances those countries have, provided there was a clear basis for those grievances, that they do not violate the sovereignty of any country, and that they don’t impose any guardianship which is something rejected by Qatar. HE the Foreign Minister added that Qatar is trying to be more positive with mediators in the State of Kuwait, and in light of the United States’ support.

On the position of the Arab League and the GCC from the crisis, HE the Foreign Minister said that both councils were muted regarding the illegal measures taken against the State of Qatar. HE the Foreign Minister added that this showed Qatar that the two councils do not have any tools to resolve the crisis and did not play any role at all. His Excellency added that the State of Qatar is relying on the mediation efforts led by HH the Emir of the State of Kuwait, which is being supported by the United States and all other friendly countries including Russia, Turkey, France, Germany, Italy, Britain along with many other countries.

On the telephone call which took place Saturday between HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Russian President Vladimir Putin, HE the Foreign Minister said that Russia does not want any escalation in the region and is encouraging all parties to engage in a dialogue. His Excellency added that there were many meetings with the Russian side and many phone calls that took place between HH the Emir and President Putin.

His Excellency also discussed the role of the United States and said it was true that they wanted to play a role of a mediator, but maintained that the U.S. were part of the issue from the beginning. HE the Foreign Minister called on U.S. President Donald Trump to listen to the Department of State and the Department of Defense in matters related to the GCC crisis. His Excellency noted that President Trump relied in his remarks regarding the crisis on things said by leaders in the region, without mentioning who those leaders were. HE the Foreign Minister expressed his confidence that if the U.S. President refers to his official security and defense institutions, he will find the correct information on the role of Qatar in counter-terrorism. HE the Foreign Minister pointed out that the U.S.-Qatari strategic ties extend for half a century and cover many aspects, adding that all institutions in the United States understand the importance of the State of Qatar.

On the possibility of Saudi Arabia engaging militarily against the State of Qatar, HE the Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that there were no fears by the Qatari side of a potential military operation. HE the Foreign Minister maintained however that the international law must be respected and that Qatar will not accept any crossing of its borders from any party. His Excellency noted that the State of Qatar is in an area that must remain very stable, adding that their allies will not accept any escalation in a region considered vital to all countries around the world.

HE the Foreign Minister responded to allegations made by Saudi Arabia and its allies regarding Qatar’s support to terrorism by saying that such allegations were worthy of sarcasm. His Excellency said that Qatar’s counter-terrorism efforts were clear, specially that it hosts the central command for the global coalition against ISIS. HE the Foreign Minister added that Qatar’s combats terrorism with another strategic element that many other countries don’t consider, evident in its efforts in educating children in crisis areas as well as empowering youth and creating jobs in those areas. His Excellency said that there were seven million children worldwide that receive their education as a result of programs offered by the State of Qatar. There were also 300 thousand jobs for youth in North Africa, and HE the Foreign Minister said that all those initiatives are part of Qatar’s efforts in combating the root causes of terrorism.

HE the Foreign Minister responded to allegations on financing terrorism and said that this phenomenon was present in all countries of the region and not just Qatar. His Excellency added that Qatar was at the bottom of the list when it came to that crime, stressing that there were clear efforts by Qatar to reform the laws and to place strict procedures that combat the financing of terrorism. His Excellency added that the State of Qatar does not allow anyone who supports terrorism on its soil. It also protects Qatari financial institutions from becoming a platform for funding terrorism.

HE the Foreign Minister said that the countries accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism were top of the list in that regard. His Excellency pointed out that there were financial institutions and citizens from those countries who were involved in financing terrorist organizations and terrorist attacks against Western countries and elsewhere. HE the Foreign Minister added that referring to international reports would show that Qatar was barely mentioned compared to the countries that imposed the siege on it.

On ties with Tehran, HE the Foreign Minister said that Iraq was a neighboring country to Qatar and all the GCC. His Excellency added that Qatar wants to have friendly ties with Iran in light of that and due to the fact that both share borders in terms of gas. HE the Foreign Minister also said that these ties will be based on mutual respect, and avoiding intervention in internal affairs. His Excellency said that those principles were adopted by GCC leaders in the last two summits, which shows that it is the GCC’s position rather than a unilateral move by Qatar.

On demands to close Al Jazeera, HE the Foreign Minister stressed that Al Jazeera was a source of pride in Qatar given it worked for 20 years at a time when only the voice of governments was heard. HE the Foreign Minister said that Al Jazeera became a platform for freedom, expression, and for different opinions for millions of Arabs. His Excellency added that, regardless of political differences, Al Jazeera remains an ethical news outlet that proved its worth over 20 years, which is evident by voices demanding its closure. HE the Foreign Minister said that whoever wants to silence Al Jazeera must establish a channel that competes with it.

HE the Foreign Minister said that the State of Qatar invested in Al Jazeera to find a platform for freedom of opinion in the Gulf and stressed that Qatar will not abandon that investment, noting that decisions related to the future of Al Jazeera cannot be dictated from abroad.

Responding to allegations that Al Jazeera promoted a rhetoric that incites violence, HE the Foreign Minister said that channels belonging to the countries implementing the siege are inciting violence and calling for terrorist attacks in the State of Qatar. His Excellency said that these actions show the double standards these countries use and their inability to keep up with Al Jazeera.

On the Arab Spring, HE the Foreign Minister said that it was made not by Qatar but was a result of a revolution by the peoples who suffered from tyranny and saw hope of a better life in peaceful change. HE the Foreign Minister noted that the State of Qatar did not support the Arab Spring, but did not stand in its way either. His Excellency said that Qatar helped the governments who emerged from the spring present something to their people. His Excellency also said that there were no terrorist attacks during the Arab Spring, due to the hope of change that was present. However after facing that wave of change with violence and weapons, youth resorted to violence and as a result, extremist and terrorist organizations began appearing.

HE the Foreign Minister concluded by saying that the policy of the State of Qatar is based on principles and values rather than crises. His Excellency stressed that the State of Qatar will continue its policy of supporting the Palestinian people and noted that rebuilding efforts were still ongoing. His Excellency noted that the current punitive measures imposed on Qatar were an obstacle to these efforts.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs