Nigeria demands lifting of Qatar blockade
October 05 2017 12:05 AM
Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama says blockade is ‘not the way to go’.

By Anthony Harwood/London

Nigeria has called for the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar to be lifted saying it is against such extreme measures that cause hardship.
Foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama said his country was approached by both sides to support them in the dispute.
But it had decided that the blockade, now about to enter its fifth month, was ‘not the way to go’.
Nigeria’s call for an end to the row came after most of the African countries opted to stay neutral.
Saudi Arabia’s search for support in North Africa has failed with Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya deciding not to take sides.
Observers said these regimes viewed the quartet coalition – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt – as a threat to regional security and moved to strike a balance with Qatar. 
In June the quartet launched a diplomatic and transport blockade accusing Qatar of cosying up to Iran and supporting terrorism in the region, which Qatar denied.
Among the more extreme demands made for normalising ties was the closure of the Doha-based TV network, Al Jazeera.
Onyeama took issue with the main planks of the Saudi case against Qatar – Al Jazeera, Iran and terrorism.
He said: "As a country we don’t have an issue with Al Jazeera. We have a policy in this country of freedom of information. We don’t really believe as a government in interfering with the media.
"As of now there’s nothing that has been brought to the attention of the Nigerian government showing definitively that Al Jazeera is promoting terrorism.
"To call for the shutting down of a station, especially one with such a profile as Al Jazeera, we haven’t seen anything to lead us to believe that this is the way to go."
On Tehran, Onyeama disagreed with the quartet’s view that Iran was a pariah state who should be shunned in the region.
"Iran is a member of the United Nations,’ he said. ‘Most countries have diplomatic relations with Iran, so doing so does not to our minds mean you are supportive of terrorism."
He also called out threats made to Qatar over its support for Muslim Brotherhood which the Saudi-led alliance also claimed supports terrorism.
Onyeama added: " However distasteful it might appear to some, the Muslim Brotherhood were a recognised government in Egypt at one time, voted in democratically, so the fact is that at some point there might have been engagement between Qatar and a democratic party when they were a democratic government in Egypt."
He said Nigeria has not seen any evidence to support a blockade of Qatar and, on that basis, it should be called off because it was only causing hardship.
"The measures that have been taken are very extreme. Maybe they just don’t like Qatar doing its own thing, but that’s for them to say.
"We feel that the hardship that’s caused to ordinary Qataris and others is most unfortunate and our position has been that we would invite them to an international forum where they talk to each other. The air blockade, and things like that, is a bit extreme.
"Qatar is a very small country and the alliance against it is much bigger and there is tremendous pressure being exerted.
"But they are brothers, more or less, the Gulf states. There must be some other way of sorting out their issues," the foreign minister added.

Michael Jonathan

Thursday، 05 October 2017 05:17 PM

Well said honourable minister! This shows we're committed to a peaceful resolution of this crisis. The Nigerian community in Qatar stands with His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and all Qataris on the unfair siege against Qatar.
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