* I was hopeful of MbS and his reform agenda but now I am
disappointed with him
* Syria’s Assad may be winning the war, but he has lost his country
* Still believes in a Palestinian state; Trump administration could broker
a deal between Israel and the Palestinians
Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MbS) is “not well advised” and his decisions are made in a “weird” and “irresponsible” way, Qatar’s former prime minister HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani has said.
“Instead of using force inside and outside his country, he should focus on the well-being of his people,” Sheikh Hamad opined.
In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, he also noted that after being initially hopeful about “MbS” and his self-proclaimed reform agenda, he has now changed his mind. “I am disappointed” with Mohamed bin Salman, the former Qatari premier told the channel.
Asked about the Emirati leader Mohamed bin Zayed (MbZ), the former Qatari prime minister said he was acting as a negative influence on the Saudi Crown Prince. He said he still hoped MbS would come to his senses and become a true leader of the region.
In the 30-minute interview, HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim discussed relations with Saudi Arabia as well as the ongoing Gulf crisis, the war in Syria and the stalled Middle East peace process.
He said Doha was taken by surprise by the blockade announced by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies in June 2017, claiming the real objective of this move was “to overthrow” the Amir of Qatar.
After initially siding with the Saudis and Emiratis, the Trump administration has now reversed course, he said.
Sheikh Hamad said “for the time being”, he did not see any hope for a solution to the crisis. He accused Saudi Arabia and the UAE of “breaking the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC)” by targeting Qatar.
Sheikh Hamad said since there was no legitimate reason to blockade Qatar, “Qatar News Agency was hacked, that is internationally known by now…it’s been hacked to find a reason”.
On Iran, he urged the Trump administration to resolve its differences with Tehran in a peaceful way and also stressed that the GCC needed to engage in a serious dialogue with Iran.
Commenting on the war in Syria, he said “Assad has lost his country” even though he is winning the war. “While the Syrian president may be winning the war militarily, he has lost his country and his people,” the former Qatari PM said, warning that Assad’s victory might be temporary and that only genuine reconciliation could repair the country. He said he doubted Assad would be ready to step aside and usher in a new leadership. The former Qatari PM said the failure of the international community in Syria was due to the bickering within the coalition fighting Assad. He also cited Israel’s alleged support for Damascus as a major factor, as well as the infamous “red line” on chemical weapons that President Barack Obama refused to enforce in 2013.
HE Sheikh Hamad said while Qatar had been given the lead in supporting the Syrian opposition at the onset of the war, Saudi Arabia eventually decided to take the lead, fuelling tensions.
Asked about the alleged Qatari support for the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, he said that all coalition partners, including Western countries, were aware of the kind of support being offered to the various Syrian opposition outfits and that when a decision was made to withdraw support for Al Nusra, Qatar obliged.
Asked about the Middle East peace process, the former Qatari premier said he “still believed in a Palestinian state” and that the Trump administration could broker a deal between Israel and the Palestinians. He lamented that the Trump administration was not talking to the Palestinians and warned that it had to change its approach and stop listening only to Benjamin Netanyahu and a handful of Arab countries,.
He stressed that the Palestinians could not be pressured by force or money to accept a deal, and regretted that Saudi Arabia and the UAE were doing so in order to “please the American (Trump) administration”.Last updated: September 18 2018 12:51 AM