HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani stressed yesterday that Qatar was still committed to resolving the GCC crisis because “there is a bigger threat in the region, which is terrorism”.
In an interview held with US TV network MSNBC, Sheikh Mohamed said the propaganda waged against Qatar accusing it of terrorism was baseless.
He stressed that Qatar was a leader in countering terrorism and extremism, highlighting that the country hosts the central command for the global coalition. “Qatar is a frontrunner in combating extremist ideologies when it establishes schools and provides high-quality education to vulnerable societies and poor countries abroad,” he said adding that Qatar provided education to 7mn children in East Asia and Central Asia.
On the strength of bilateral ties with the US, the foreign minister said Qatar has always been a strong partner and ally to the United States in its fight against terror. “This is evident from the fact that Qatar hosts between 11,000 and 12,000 American troops at Al Udeid Airbase, through which the US carries out its missions against ISIS.”
The minister added that the US has always expressed its appreciation for that partnership. “Qatar also highly appreciates the partnership and is working with the US on developing cooperation further.”
On the American position on the siege of Qatar, he said Doha was getting full support from the US for putting an end to the blockade, “whether it was US President Donald Trump or members of his administration such Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defence James Mattis among others”. As to why the siege was still in place, the minister said it was a result of the actions of Saudi Arabia and the UAE towards Qatar and the illegal measures they took against the country by shutting borders and separating families, in addition to launching an anti-Qatar propaganda campaign.
Sheikh Mohamed however stressed that Qatar was committed to reaching a resolution, because “the country realises that terrorism is a bigger threat facing the region”.
On ties between Qatar and Iran, the foreign minister noted that Qatar has a unique relationship with Iran. “Qatar is located between and shares borders with two big countries in Saudi Arabia and Iran.”
He noted however that there were concerns of Iran’s increasing influence in the region, but stressed that those fears must be addressed peacefully and that is what the State of Qatar is encouraging other Gulf states to do. This was also the decision taken during the GCC summit in 2016 -- to engage in dialogue with Iran on the principle that the GCC will be one entity and Iran the other, he said.
Asked whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman was a threat to Qatar’s future, Sheikh Mohamed said there was a diversion in the policy of Saudi Arabia and the UAE from the GCC agreement which was engagement in dialogue. There was also a sense of unpredictability when it comes to the policies of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the region, he said.
The foreign minister added “there was a lot of chaos and crises in the region, pointing out that Qatar was part of a bigger strategy now seen in Lebanon too.”
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