Pressure won’t force Qatar to change foreign policy – FM
Qatar will not alter its foreign policy to resolve the rift with other Gulf nations, its foreign minister said. Saudi Arabia earlier issued a list of demands to Qatar, including severing ties with Iran and expelling leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
“We are not ready to surrender, and will never be ready to surrender, the independence of our foreign policy,” Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told reporters in Doha.
He added that the transport blockade declared by the Saudi-led group of countries opposing Qatar in the ongoing row would not hurt Doha.
The minister also said Iran was ready to help with providing food and other necessary supplies to the small Arab nation. Tehran, he said, proposed designating three of its ports to supply Qatar, though Doha is yet to accept the offer.
He also said Turkey, which on Wednesday sped up the planned deployment of troops to Qatar, is helping to ensure stability in the region.
The minister added that Qatar would respect its LNG gas agreement with the United Arab Emirates, despite the UAE allying with Saudi Arabia in the rift. He also said he expected no changes in Qatar’s arrangement with the United States, with the Gulf state hosting the biggest US military base in the Middle East.
He added Qatar had never experienced such a level of hostility, even from enemy countries.
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia conveyed to mediators from Kuwait a list of demands to deliver to Qatar. These include cutting all links with Iran, the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood network and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Riyadh also wants Doha to alter the editorial policy of the Qatar-funded TV broadcaster Al Jazeera, which the Saudis accuse of meddling in domestic affairs of other nations.
Sheikh Mohammed said Thursday Qatar had not yet been presented with the list.
The rift in the Arab world escalated days after US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, which was meant to demonstrate the unity of America and its Arab allies. The spat was triggered by alleged reports by the Qatari state news agency, which cited the kingdom’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani as criticizing Saudi Arabia’s hostility towards Iran and doubting that Trump would hold office for a full term.
Doha later claimed that the report was posted by hackers who compromised the agency’s website. Nevertheless, on Monday Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and several other countries severed diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar, accusing it of sponsoring terrorist groups.
Sheikh Mohammed on Tuesday reiterated the denial of the accusations.
“We have been isolated because we are successful and progressive. We are a platform for peace not terrorism ... This dispute is threatening the stability of the entire region,” he said, adding that he saw no military solution to the crisis.
The unfolding Arab crisis is drawing in additional players every day. On Thursday, the office of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced that he is prepared to mediate and is calling on the Gulf nations to work on overcoming their differences.
But Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Wednesday voiced opposition to foreign involvement in the dispute.
“We have not asked for mediation, we believe this issue can be dealt with among the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),” he told a news conference in Berlin.