By Ahmed al-Qudah and Ayman Adly. Doha
A former Comorian minister who was dismissed from his position for his opposition to the government’s decision to sever ties with Qatar has hoped wisdom would prevail and the relations between the two countries would get back to normal soon.
Fahmi Said Ibrahim, who was recently on a visit to Doha to express his personal friendship, stressed he had not supported the Comorian president’s decision to cut diplomatic relations with Qatar in the wake of the current GCC crisis.
Ibrahim has earlier served as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Co-operation in charge of the Arab World and then as Minister of Justice, in charge of Public Administration of Islamic Affairs and Human Rights, a position he kept from May 30 2016 to July 19, 2017.
In a recent reshuffle of the Cabinet , Ibrahim alongside two other ministers from his Juwa Party, was dismissed for their support for the cause of Qatar and rejecting the decision of the President Azali Assoumani to cut ties with Doha.
In an exclusive interview with Gulf Times, Ibrahim termed his country’s decision to sever relations with Qatar as illogical. “Nothing explains in a convincing way the president’s decision to cut relations with Qatar. Wisdom assumes that Comoros should take a neutral position and follow on the footsteps of Kuwait and Morocco with regard to the crisis,” he said.
Asked about the decision-making process in Comoros, the former minister said: “The president alone decides because it is his constitutional right. He decided to sever the relations with Qatar and informed the government later. Of course, that agitated a lot of Comorians. There was also a popular reaction from the majority of the people there, because Qatar has been making significant contributions to the development of our country for years.”
His Highness the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was the first head of any Arab state to pay a visit to the Comoros. The Father Emir, then the Emir, visited Moroni, the largest city, federal capital and seat of the government of the Union of the Comoros, in April 2010.
On March 2010, Doha hosted a conference in support of development and investment in the Comoros. Qatar’s support and investments were tangible and seen in many areas and sectors. Qatar has invested heavily in the African country.
Ibrahim said Comoros lost its reputation as a dependable partner by taking sides in the crisis. “We should not cut diplomatic relations with a state unless there is a conflict. What happened is regrettable.”
The former Comorian minister said GCC is a group of six countries and any differences should have been resolved within the bloc. “The GCC is a European Union-like council. The GCC has the same people with the same religion. Cutting relations with Qatar by Gulf states in front of the international community was wrong. That should not have been done to a brotherly state.
“In Europe, the measures to deal with similar situations are different. The European Union comprises 28 states with a lot of languages, but they always force themselves into showing solidarity within the Union. They differ in their viewpoints and orientations, but they have a mechanism to solve such issues. They are 28 states, and undermining a member state is never possible.”
Asked how the blockading countries were able to convince the Comorian president to cut relations with Qatar, he said the issue was not discussed in the government. “I was a part of the government and no one consulted us. The president alone took the decision. And no one knows why. Still, nothing justifies that kind of behaviour.”
To a query whether a bribe was paid or was it personal interest that drove the president to take the decision against Qatar, the former minister said: “It is difficult to judge that. But it is also impossible for the president to take such a decision without reasons. However, nothing justifies the president’s decision regardless of his interests. It is not acceptable to cut diplomatic relations in this way, especially with a brotherly state.”
Asked how he would explain the president’s decision, Ibrahim said: “Sure there is a reason but whatever it may be, it is neither logical nor realistic. The decision affects the reputation of Comoros and the state’s credibility . It also affects the friendly relations of Comorians with Qataris. Nothing permits the sudden severance of relations between the two countries.”
To a question, he said no national interest was served with the severance of ties with Qatar. “On the contrary, a country’s interests are protected by showing to the world its position as a dependable partner.”
Asked about his opinion of Saudi Arabia’s politicisation of Haj, he said it is regrettable because one should not mix politics with religion. “Qatar is a Muslim and brotherly state to Saudi Arabia. Saudis are the guardians of the two holy mosques. Accordingly, Saudis should ensure the security of all pilgrims, irrespective of problems they have with the pilgrims’ countries.”
When his attention was brought to the blockading countries accusing Qatari charitable institutions of supporting terrorism, he said: “All who have dealt with Qatari institutions have never raised any doubt about Qatar using the funds sent to Comoros for any other purpose than charity.”
He said Qataris enjoy a very good reputation among the Comorians. “Qatar has never intervened in our internal affairs. Qataris were always there whenever we needed them.”
Queried about the future of Qatar-Comoros relations, the former minister said he has not lost hope and believed relations would get back to normal. “Comoros needs Qatar. I value that Qatar has a clear vision towards the economic development of Comoros. I personally do not feel that I was defeated, but we should be working on the relations to get them back to normal . I have not given up. I do not accept defeat. We can depend on Doha. Qatar always knew how to stand with Comoros.”
Ibrahim has earlier visited Qatar in 2011 while serving as the foreign minister. He said he was really impressed with the progress made by Qatar. He recalled with gratitude the developmental and charitable support Qatar has provided to his country.
Comoros govt denounces Ibrahim’s statements
The Government of the Union of the Comoros has reacted strongly to the interview given by former minister Fahmi Said Ibrahim (pictured) to Gulf Times.
In a communique, a government spokesman said Ibrahim’s present stance amounted to treason as he was a party to the decision taken by a Council of Government. Denouncing Ibrahim’s position, the statement said it was influenced by his own immediate interests.
“The statements of the former minister are opportunistic, misleading and unfounded. They do neither honour to his political party, Juwa, nor to his country.”
However, the statement said the Government of the Union of the Comoros favoured talks to resolve the Gulf crisis.
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