The Foreign Minister's Interview with RT on GCC Crisis

The Foreign Minister's Interview with RT on GCC Crisis

Moscow – Information Office – 10 June

HE the Foreign Minister of Qatar Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that his visit to Moscow was to inform friends in Russia on the latest developments in the region especially as the State of Qatar has friendly relations with Russia, a main player on the international arena. As a result, His Excellency added, it was important for the two sides to discuss crisis and its developments.

Speaking at a televised interview with RT, HE the Foreign Minister said that he discussed the developments with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. His Excellency added that talks with the Russian side were constructive, noting that Qatar explained its view of the crisis like it did with other friends over the past few days. Qatar also discussed the backdrop of the crisis and explained its vision regarding that matter, His Excellency added.

HE the Foreign Minister said that Lavrov for his part shared his point of view and said that the conflict should stay within the GCC. Lavrov added that his country is against escalation, something they agree on with the State of Qatar and stressed that any differences must be resolved through dialogue. HE the Foreign Minister expressed regret that the countries which took those measures involved other countries from outside the GCC in taking these unfair and illegal measures, it also mobilized other countries to adopt similar measures. Despite that, HE the Foreign Minister maintained that Qatar views the current differences as one between Qatar on one side, and three GCC countries in Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain on the other.

On the reasons behind the sudden crisis, His Excellency said that the side of the story visible to the State of Qatar is that the backdrop of the crisis should not be deep, as relations were friendly a day before the escalation and there were no requests made by the countries which took those measures against the State of Qatar. His Excellency added that the media campaign which preceded the escalation was based on fabricated news after the hacking of Qatar News Agency (QNA). His Excellency added that this is the biggest proof that a crisis based on media campaigns do not have a solid foundation. HE the Foreign Minister stressed that to this day Qatar has only heard false accusations, adding that there were no specific requests made to the State of Qatar from these countries.

His Excellency noted that measures being taken against the State of Qatar, were not being taken against hostile countries. His Excellency added that Qatar is being blamed for having secretive ties with Iran, even though Qatar's ties with Iran are clear and transparent.

HE the Foreign Minister said that the hostility towards the State of Qatar raised a lot of question marks, particularly as statements made by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt were contradictory. HE the Foreign Minister wondered how was it possible that Qatar gets accused of supporting Hezbollah and Iran, and at the same time faces accusations of backing Al Qaeda in Syria. His Excellency also wondered how could Qatar back Al Houthi in Yemen, and then support the Muslim Brotherhood as well. HE the Foreign Minister stressed that such contradictions were the biggest proof that accusations directed at Qatar were baseless and unclear. His Excellency noted that if there were clear requests, it would be better to hold a dialogue over them before taking such measure in order to give Qatar the right to respond. HE the Foreign Minister noted that instead Qatari channels were blocked and opinions expressing the Qatari view were oppressed. Afterwards a media campaign took place against the State of Qatar demonizing it and fabricating false news against HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Qatari officials, which shows that there is a bigger matter than just the State of Qatar and its role.

On rumors of meeting with Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, HE the Foreign Minister said that such rumors were a work of fiction. His Excellency added that he would have met with Soleimani in Doha or Tehran if there was a need to. HE the Foreign Minister stressed that Qatar always looks to take its steps publicly, confirming that news of a meeting with Soleimani were fabricated after the hacking of Qatar News Agency's website. His Excellency added that he arrived at the airport in Baghdad and headed to the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi, before heading back to the airport and then Doha. His Excellency added that this took place at the same time when Saudi Minister of Energy was meeting the Iraqi Prime Minister. HE the Qatari Foreign Minister said that he left Iraq while the Saudi Minister was still in Baghdad. 

As for the remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump in which he said he was told that Qatar supports terrorism, HE the foreign minister said relationships between Qatar and the United States are "historic" and extend back to several decades, adding that, after the signing of agreements on military cooperation and facilitations, Qatar "exerted great efforts in combating terrorism" and had a major contribution with its allies, notably the United States.

HE the foreign minister said it was strange that the U.S. president's statements were based on opinions of heads of states who have political stances that oppose Qatar and "always use terrorism as a pretext against their political opponents whether they were countries or individuals because it is easier to promote and is more acceptable in the West, and they wanted to attain Western support against Qatar by accusing it of supporting terrorism."

HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said the U.S. institutions always commend Qatar's role and partnership in the fight against terrorism, adding that the clearest evidence that the accusations against Qatar by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt are "baseless" is that the list the four countries issued was refuted on the grounds that it included charity organizations that have a consultancy status at the United Nations as well as journalists and prisoners in Egypt, and others who are sanctioned by the U.N.

He stressed that the list is part of the campaign of accusations that they want to associate Qatar with, adding that the U.S. has clear lists of terrorism.

"We don't support the Muslim Brotherhood. The State of Qatar supports governments and forges relationships with governments. We are a state not a political party," HE the foreign minister said, adding that Hamas movement, which is listed as a terrorist organization in the U.S. is a "legitimate resistance" movement for Arab countries.

"We support the Palestinian people not Hamas and we cooperate with the official Palestinian Authority, and Hamas' presence in Qatar is a political representation for the movement," HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said.

"Qatar is delegated by its international partners to work towards Palestinian reconciliation, so there are leaders from Fatah and Hamas movements and we are surprised as to how Hamas has become an indictment by Arab countries," he said, adding that Hamas isn't listed on GCC terrorism lists.

Asked about the possibility of hosting both American and Turkish bases in Qatar, HE the foreign minister said Qatar has a space available for military interaction with any country it wants in line with its sovereignty, adding that there is military cooperation between Qatar and Turkey, France, Britain, the U.S. and several others, and "this is a sovereign decision," dismissing reports about Qatar's use of troops from Pakistan.

HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani stressed that the partnership between Qatar and the U.S. "extends greatly beyond these problems that they want to stir," adding that cooperation with the U.S. and all friendly countries wasn't affected. "All the measures that were taken against Qatar are unfair and illegal. They want to impose a mass punishment against Qatar to pressure it regarding an issue that we don't know until now."

The foreign minister denied that Qatar intends to create a Turkish-Iranian-Qatari axis in the region, saying that "the region can't afford new crises and GCC states used to be the center of stability in the region, and the measures against Qatar undermine the stability of the Gulf region," stressing that Qatar will not be a reason for undermining that center of stability.

As for the possibility for Qatar to change its policies based on the current circumstances, HE the foreign minister said that "our policies that have been built based on our principles will remain as are," adding that Qatar "wants positive ties with Iran but according to our principles, and we have differences with Iran and they must be solved through dialogue."

Asked whether Qatar is about to open commercial routes with Iran in light of the ongoing blockade, he said that Iran "opened all routes for us since the beginning of the crisis but we don't need them now but at the end the interests of our people remain our guide when making decisions."

"Qatar is the fifth-ranked Gulf state in trade balance with Iran, while the UAE is Iran's second-largest trade partner after China," the minister said, adding that "trade with Iran isn't criminalized at GCC, and if they accuse us of it, they should have taken such hostile measures against the state that they accused us of having ties with."

HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that Qatar will not lose hope in the mediation of HH Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah that "we value and appreciate because it is still ongoing, and HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani considers HH Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah a father."

HE the foreign minister noted that HH Emir of Kuwait had asked HH the Emir to have a space for movement and "we support this space and our contacts with friendly countries contribute to supporting the efforts of HH Emir of Kuwait," adding that "we haven't received clear demands from the other side because there is no clear vision regarding the demands."

HE the minister reiterated that Qatar can provide its food needs "forever," adding that "the talk about a food crisis is part of the media war against us."

"Qatar has strategically prepared for such crises because we have been through previous ones whether during the failed coup attempt in 1996 or the withdrawal of ambassadors in 2014," HE the foreign minister said, adding that HH the Emir gave clear directives that Qatar becomes fully "self-reliant."

Asked whether Qatar is about to review the issue of Al Jazeera channel, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said decisions that relate to Qatari sovereignty and Qatari foreign policy are "out of the GCC collective security frame and are reviewed within Qatar not imposed from outside, and we will not accept the guardianship of anyone."

"The decisions that affect Gulf security are those that matter," HE the foreign minister said, adding that, other than that, nothing will be discussed.