*US-Iran war unlikely
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah has stressed the need to address false information and the sources that falsify facts, condemning the absence of punishment for countries that practise such types of crimes.
Speaking at the opening session of the second day of the Global Security Forum 2019, he said the conflict in this region started with fake information and said it is not understandable why such fake information is used in the region to pass or transmit a perverted and crooked agenda to justify the unfair treatment of peoples. "In that case, false information can be considered a 'dangerous tool' in conflicts," he said, pointing out that the problem is that there is no penalty for the countries that commit such types of crimes.
Regarding the best response , he said educating people and "working to convey our story and our narrative is the solution, along with continuing to confront attempts to falsify information by presenting the justness of our cause."
On the possibility of Qatar launching an initiative to establish general principles regarding cybersecurity, HE al-Attiyah said Doha is waiting for the end of the overwhelming chaos that prevails in the region.
HE the Minister stressed that Qatar has worked towards rebuilding its armed forces and strengthening its capabilities, based on a study of the armed forces in similar countries in terms of being a country with a small land area surrounded by large neighbouring countries.
He said such countries should have a different approach, even if there is no intention by neighbouring states to harm them.
He pointed out that the new generation of wars is 'hybrid wars' that need all tools and resources ,not only military equipment but economic aspects and social dimension, as well as the use of false information because it is a war from a 'holistic perspective'. He predicted that after 20 years, technology as well as cybersecurity would be one of the things to focus on.
Regarding Qatar's best arms supplier, the defence minister said Qatar is open to all, adding that Qatar is always more oriented towards the West, but that does not mean that Qatar will not seek other sources if that will serve its goal of protecting the country.
On the regional political scene and the US intention to withdraw its troops from the region, HE Dr al-Attiyah said Qatar is one of the closest allies of the United States, and it would be a big mistake if "we think that this region is not worthy of interest and there are great interests in it," adding that he doesn't see the withdrawal from the region can be used for political purposes or for an election campaign. "But eventually, the United States will not abandon the region," he said.
With regard to the situation in Syria and the recent Turkish move, HE Dr al-Attiyah said there have been many players in the Syrian issue since 2013, and many parties are trying to harm Turkey, adding that he doesn't defend anyone, and "we, in Qatar, deal with the facts as they are. Turkey hosts nearly 4mn refugees, and it can open its doors to let these refugees travel to Europe, but it is trying to use its right to protect itself from terrorist groups, and at the same time, trying to return these refugees to their countries is not a crime. Major crimes had happened in Syria committed by parties to the conflict and no one was held accountable."
HE the Minister pointed out that the cities that Turkey is trying to clear of ISIS fighters still exist, unlike other cities destroyed by other parties in Syria and they have not been held accountable.
He denounced the use of Kurds in this Turkish move, stressing that the Kurds are an important component in the Turkish and Syrian states, and Qatar cannot distinguish between citizens in Syria or Turkey, being Kurds, Arabs or others, because in the end they form the community of these two countries.
"We are talking about fighting terrorist groups, so we should focus on ISIS or al-Qaeda," he said adding there are many different terrorist groups and it is wrong to use the word Kurds every time because through this we are provoking minorities and the Kurds are about 20% of the population of Turkey.
HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs said what Turkey is doing now has not been done by the Arab League. "Turkey is trying to preserve the unity of Syria, and what happened recently at the Arab League meeting makes us believe that we are in a non-Arab body because all the decisions taken by this league lead to the division of Syria."
Regarding the relationship with Russia , HE the Minister said Qatar has good relations with Russia and Qatar builds its relations with other countries on the basis of mutual respect and common interest. "Qatar wants to have good relations with everyone."
He said Qatar is trying to be a reliable mediator and everyone knows that Qatar has no hidden agendas. "In all mediation (we conduct) we have no interests. Qatar is one of the rare countries that deal with any issue on principles and this is one of the reasons that makes Qatar successful in most of its mediation."
Regarding the presence of mediators in the Gulf crisis, HE the Minister said since the beginning of the crisis, the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, is the only person who is playing the role of mediator, because he is accepted by everyone.
"But before they come to terms with us and engage in dialogues and consultations, they must come to terms with themselves. We are open to anything and there is nothing to fear, but we have to go to negotiate without any preconditions and put everything on the table before embarking on any peace process."
HE the Minister said Qatar now is focusing on development and the file of reconciliation is in the hands of the Amir of Kuwait. "Whether reconciliation takes place today, tomorrow or after many years, Qatar has an obligation to develop the country and educate and enlighten the Qatari people, because it is the most important thing for Qatar," he said.
HE Dr al-Attiyah stressed that Qatar did not pay any ransom for the release of anyone, even in the incident of the kidnapping of Qatari citizens in Iraq, saying that "we suffered to a lot from fake news and misleading campaigns that Qatar paid huge money and sent aircraft and other lies as if we live in this world alone".
Regarding the use of US military bases in Qatar and Turkey against Iran, he said there are agreements between Doha and Washington and "we are a sovereign country that respects the sovereignty of other countries, and Qatar has a special relationship with America and we coordinate with the US on a daily basis, and Turkey is one of the largest member countries of NATO and has with America bilateral agreements and joint relations, and I do not think that the Americans will move without the permission of the host country."
He pointed out that there is high-level coordination on a daily basis, whether at the operational or tactical level.
On the course of the crisis between US and Iran, he stressed the importance of dialogue and putting the security file on the table, praising the wisdom of US President Donald Trump in dealing with this issue.
HE the Minister said there would be no war between Washington and Tehran in the foreseeable future, although there are parties seeking to ignite the war, and has done everything in their power, including the production of video games to push America to launch a military strike on Iran.
Regarding his vision concerning the US-Iranian crisis, HE Dr al- Attiyah said: "My best view is that US President Trump would like to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani or with the Supreme Leader of Iran, and if there were some simple things like expanding the permission to export oil, I think the Iranian side would be flexible. This is an opinion, not information available to me, and if there is a goodwill initiative, the other party will receive this signal well and may meet halfway, and face-to-face discussion is the best way to bring stability to the region."
Regarding the threat facing Qatar in organising the 2022 FIFA World Cup, he said the only threat facing Qatar in this tournament is the failure of the national team to qualify for the finals, stressing that he is not worried about anything else, and after 2017 Qatar has become a completely different country.
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