Doha – Information Office - January 10
HE Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani confirmed that the investigations concerning the hacking of Qatar News Agency website on May 23 last year proved the involvement of two siege countries and the State of Qatar will take legal action against them.
In an interview with Al Hakika show on Qatar Television on Wednesday night, HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said that the State of Qatar does not rely on leaks or news stories that do not bear evidence about the state that committed the crime of hacking and the investigation proved that the two states were involved in the crime.
Concerning the relationship with the siege countries after the crisis of withdrawal of ambassadors in 2014, the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said that knowing the roots of the crisis and the facts that occurred at that time is a legitimate right for the people of Qatar because this crisis affected their country and the actions that have been taken were actions directed against the Qatari people in first place.
He added that the relationship between the State of Qatar and the GCC countries following the crisis of ambassadors and the current Gulf crisis, which began with the crime of piracy in May 2017, was good and friendly and there was coordination and continuous communication under the guidance of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani that relations with GCC countries become the first priority of Doha's foreign relations.
Based on that, HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said, after his appointment in January 2016, he started his first visit to GCC countries and conveyed a message from HH the Emir to the leaders of the GCC countries that "we in Qatar see our relationship with the GCC countries as a priority and today we want a new page of Gulf-Qatar relations based on continuous understandings and coordination until we reach the stage of integration."
HE pointed out that there was an exchange of visits between leaders. HH the Emir visited the UAE and Saudi Arabia. There were several visits and not only one visit. There was also continuous work and coordination in regional and other issues. All this momentum of relations continued till this current crisis.
Concerning the differences between the two sides in Riyadh agreement, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that the differences that were in the time of the Gulf crisis in 2014 were all resolved by Riyadh Agreement and the signing of its executive and follow-up mechanisms, which were through joint committees between countries, and the problems were discussed between countries and solutions were found to these problems and agreed on a way to deal with them. He added that all these records exist and are documented and the State of Qatar has not seen any violations of any party in this agreement, which includes all countries, and all countries must adhere to it.
HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that some problems that were issued on a bilateral level were resolved on a bilateral level, there were observations and some abuses by the media in the UAE and some political figures, and there has been attempts to sit with the officials in the UAE and find a mechanism to contain this issue. HE the minister added that the Kingdom of Bahrain filed an objection about the issue of nationalization, which was closed in 2014 and was resolved, and the reopening of events that occurred before the 2014 agreement and the subject was treated bilaterally until a solution and a settlement were reached to all these things and all differences that were marginal were resolved and there was a mechanism for interaction.
He pointed out that there was a point of disagreement with the UAE in particular two months before the Gulf crisis, where there were some media attacks and Doha contacted them cordially and asked them to activate the bilateral mechanism to know the reasons for these attacks and if there are problems to resolve, and after communicating with them they asked to hand over the wife of a UAE dissident who left UAE in 2012 or 2013 when there were an arrest campaign against dissidents.
HE the minister added that the dissident left and reached Doha from Abu Dhabi officially with his wife, and then left to Britain while his wife remained in Qatar because of her family ties. She did not have a passport as she entered with her personal ID, and when she asked to renew her passport from the UAE embassy, her passport was withdrawn and at that point "we knew that there is something wrong," HE the minister added.
HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that the crown prince of Abu Dhabi sent envoys to HH the Emir and requested the handover of this woman in 2015. HH the Emir's response was clear that this woman was not required in a criminal offense and that this was contrary to international law and the Qatari constitution, in which Article 58 prohibits the extradition of any refugees for political reasons.
The second factor, HE the minister added, is that "it is in our morals and traditions as Arabs that we can not hand over women, and the issue of refugee culture is rooted in our history and anchored by our ancestors who received many refugees, some of whom were rulers and returned as rulers, and this culture exists and is rooted in the State of Qatar and in GCC countries."
"We assumed then the UAE's understanding of this step. HH the Emir told them that we will not allow anyone to use Doha as a platform to attack the UAE or any Gulf country. We have fulfilled this promise before the matter was reopened in light of the attacks that were observed when we raised this issue, and they asked us to hand over the woman in return for ending the media attacks.
"The response of HH the Emir was clear and I personally conveyed this response to Abu Dhabi in April that we will not hand over this woman who has not violated any of the conditions of living in Qatar with her family. We will not accept this for ourselves and we will not accept it on our morals," HE the minister said.
HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister added that the UAE had responded that as long as the woman was not handed over, the coordination between the State of Qatar and the UAE would be completely stopped. "This was their choice. After this step, the State of Qatar took the second step of visiting Saudi Arabia and informing them of these developments and coordinating with them," he said, noting that a meeting was held between HH the Emir and then Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
"I attended the meeting, which was closed, and HH the Emir spoke about this problem, which was escalated by the UAE. We talked with them and told them that Saudi Arabia is the big brother and we ask you to not be part of the dispute and to be neutral. If you want to help in resolving the dispute, we appreciate your efforts and if you want to move away from the problem, we ask you to be neutral and that the Kingdom does not stand by one side at the expense of the other," HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said.
HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani pointed out that the response of Saudi crown prince was that the Kingdom will not be part of this dispute, and as long as the dispute is based on the extradition of a woman, it is not in the Gulf morals to hand over a woman.
"Prince Mohammed bin Nayef added that 'our relations with the State of Qatar are at their best and we are in constant coordination,' and Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that 'Qatar always stood with us in many situations and we have no disagreement with Qatar... the UAE may have reservations on some Qatar policies, we will try to contain them and act as mediator,' and HH the Emir welcomed this and told them if the kingdom wants to contribute to solving this issue, we are happy and we welcome that," HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said, adding that the ministerial meeting was held and then the Gulf summit and the Gulf-U.S. summit and nothing was discussed.
As for the changing relation with Saudi Arabia at this pace, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that "for us in Qatar, we can not answer this question because we do not know, but there are two assumptions; the first is that before the hacking crime, the nature of communication that we had with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not at the level of honesty required in dealing with some countries, and it was not transparent and the speech we heard from the state leaders did not represent the position of the Saudi state, and the second assumption is that they believed the contents of the hacking crime and built assumptions on it, and I do not think this hypothesis is right because today at this level of technological progress, through which we can know the truth, I am surprised by this position, which is reversed by 180 degrees because of wrong information and a crime committed against the State of Qatar."
Responding to a question about the signs of differences felt during the reception of the Qatari delegation at the Riyadh summit, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said there were normal contacts between HH the Emir, the King of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince and Deputy Crown Prince. There were talks between the leaderships and what was mentioned in our meetings, but there were no discussions on differences, he said. On the contrary, things went very normal, he said. My contacts with the foreign ministers were very normal. I did not notice any change, except some protocol errors, which I consider as errors that occur in any meeting of this magnitude. But in terms of communication and the way of handling things I did not see any change. On the contrary, there were contacts between us after the meeting directly and routinely.
Regarding relations between the State of Qatar and the Arab Republic of Egypt after the withdrawal of the ambassadors until the 24th of last May, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister said that the Arab Republic of Egypt has been going through very sensitive stage since the revolution of January 25, 2011. We in Qatar appreciate the Republic of Egypt as a central Arab country with a leading role among the Arab countries, and we greatly appreciate the choices of the Egyptian people, whatever these choices are and we never intervene in them.
He added there were some differences in 2013 after the removal of President Mohamed Morsi, and there were attempts to address these differences to overcome them but did not succeed, and there was a chill in relations, but from our side Qatar did not stop dealing with Egypt, as our ambassador remained in Cairo, and we continued our presence at all official occasions, and HH the Emir attended Arab summit held in Sharm el-Sheikh.
He noted that there were attempts to resolve these differences during the maneuvers of Raad Al Shamal in Hafr Al Batin, when HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani met with President Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi in the presence of Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Prince Mohammed said that Saudi Arabia wants to bring the views of Qatar and Egypt closer, and after this meeting it was agreed to hold a tripartite meeting between the foreign ministers of the three countries to put differences on the table and discuss and try to resolve them. We followed up on the outcomes of the meeting but the Kingdom did not call for a tripartite meeting. We were in contact with officials in the Republic of Egypt, who said they were waiting for an invitation from the Kingdom. We in Qatar delivered the message that we were ready to discuss these differences on any occasion. But these differences continued and when there are attempts to heal the rift, we do not see that efforts are helping us to solve the problem. On the contrary, we see there is a disruption of these efforts.
On a question about the hacking of Qatar News Agency website on 24 May and how this matter was addressed, His Excellency said that the crime of hacking occurred shortly after midnight and fabricated news attributed to HH the Emir were transmitted. Due to the nature of our work and as most of our employees were sleeping at that time and after these news were carried out by media outlets as well as after immediate attacks by channels affiliated to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt which made their guests ready in the studios minutes after the hacking, we reacted directly as there was a focal point between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Through this focal point we clarified that what is happening in the media channels is surprising, and that Qatar News Agency's website was hacked and we asked them to consider the statement issued to deny the news as well as the statement of Qatar News Agency that the agency's website was hacked.
He said that he learned about the hacking 20 minutes after it took place and he tried to understand the subject, but he did not understand it until one o'clock, adding that he tried to communicate in person with his acquaintances in these countries. In the Kingdom, I contacted the Deputy Crown Prince and sent him a text message that the news agency website was hacked and I ask him to direct the media channels to take into account the denial statement reported by the Qatar News Agency, and sent to foreign ministers to inform them that this is what happened. But the only one who responded to me was HE First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah in the following morning, as well as HE Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs in Oman Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, while the rest ignored the message. Prince Mohammed bin Salman responded to my message one hour later that things was still going on and that the news was still on. His response was strange. Then, we preferred to stop our contacts and to wait for the results of the trips of the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister who asked us not to escalate and not communicate until he understood what are the reasons for this and for the media campaign targeting the State of Qatar.
Regarding why Qatar involved the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the British National Crime Agency in the investigation, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said we have nothing to hide and what happened to the Qatar News Agency caused an international crisis between countries in one region. We in the State of Qatar have preferred to work with the greatest transparency, and this is what we promised to do from the first day of the hacking of QNA. The FBI and the British National Crime Agency welcomed to participate in the investigation, and there are other friendly countries that offered to participate in the investigation and support us and we welcomed everyone, until we reached this accurate results and identify the location of hacking and how it was done and how it was planned more than one month before the crisis.
Regarding Bahrain's accusations against the State of Qatar, the Foreign Minister said for Bahrain's issue which they raised before the siege crisis, it was raised to cover the issue of naturalization which was not the real issue. To be clear, there are Qatari families who have lived in Bahrain for a long time, and there are Bahraini families who have been living in Qatar for a long time, and this is the nature of the Gulf society. Those families which Bahrain accused the State of Qatar of giving them nationalities are Qatari citizens whose nationalities were returned to them and whose procedures are completely different from naturalization procedures. The return of nationality requires a decision to be issued by a committee in the Ministry of the Interior, while the naturalization procedures are issued by Emiri decrees, he said.
He said the issue of these families who Bahrain talked about was addressed in 2014. Because of Bahrain's status and we value that, Qatar allowed those whose nationalities were returned to them to hold Bahraini nationalities as well, although this is not permitted by law. Bahrain was excluded from that because of its position and our appreciation of this status and the importance of Bahrain to remain stable.
He added that the media attack that Bahrain carried out on naturalization issue after the siege crisis was a surprise, especially that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain talked with me on the subject two weeks later and said that things were resolved peacefully, and that the issue of naturalization were overcome and we agreed on the mechanism, which was agreed in the past. We solved the matter but suddenly they changed their position. I have previously said that Bahrain did not take a stance until the tenth day.. The first day of the siege was when it and the other countries started their attacks.
In response to a question about the existence of contacts with the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council or the GCC Secretary General and why there was no condemnation of the hack, the Foreign Minister said that he contacted the GCC Secretary General Dr Abdul Latif Al Zayani on the first day, after contacting Kuwait's Minister of Foreign Affairs, and informed him on the hacking of Qatar News Agency and the attacks against the State of Qatar ... I asked him, as the GCC Secretary General, to issue a statement condemning this media attack and this crime committed against the State of Qatar. The Secretary General told me that he would take the necessary action... The necessary procedures are usually to consult with foreign ministers to issue the statement. Of course, these necessary procedures have not been taken. Unfortunately, there were statements issued by the GCC General Secretariat in the period following the siege condemning a particular act or a crime and we do not disagree with them in the condemnation, but they violated all the actions that they claimed to follow at this time.. The State of Qatar preferred to remain silent and to not respond to them in order to preserve this entity, which we still see a glimmer of hope that it will contribute to the restoration of security among the GCC countries.
On the measures that the State of Qatar took on the first day of the siege, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that in the period following the hacking of QNA and prior to the siege, HE Kuwait's First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah visited the UAE and Saudi Arabia and then came to Doha and said that the two countries say that there are Qatari practices that raise some question marks.
HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said the Kuwaiti minister's response was that these concerns cannot be addressed in this way and must resolved behind closed doors, adding that the Kuwait minister was promised by the two countries to be provided with details related to their allegations against the State of Qatar.
HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that he had telephoned the Kuwaiti foreign minister and stressed that the level of escalation against the State of Qatar was unacceptable and amounted to a clear incitement against the ruling in the State of Qatar, revealing that the Kuwaiti minister replied that he was promised by the two countries to be provided with evidence against Qatar and that was the case until the announcement of the measures that were taken against Qatar on June 5.
HE the minister stressed that the siege countries treated the Qatari people in a "barbaric" manner, whether pilgrims, families, students or patients, and in a way that has nothing to do with the Gulf and Islamic morals. He questioned whether the measures have been taken against the State of Qatar or the people of Qatar.
HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister noted that after the intentions of the siege countries were revealed, Doha contacted all friendly countries to clarify what happened, while the siege countries mobilized their resources and diplomats to incite against Qatar in all world countries. He added that the siege countries tried to mobilize other countries such as the Maldives as well as an internationally unrecognized government in Libya and other countries, and even buy ads in Western countries to incite against Qatar.
Regarding the accusation by the siege countries against the State of Qatar of internationalizing the Gulf crisis and not resolving it within the Gulf region, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that his first visit abroad was five days after the declaration of the siege compared to multiple visits by siege countries' officials around the world to promote fake stories and allegations, and, hence, it was Qatar's right to respond to and be present to prove that these charges were false. To date, he added, the international community has not been provided any evidence against Qatar except snippets of newspapers issued by the siege countries themselves.
As for the accusation that Qatar is supporting terrorism, he said it was charge used by the countries of siege to win the sympathy of the West against Qatar, while for Qatar, the extremist policies of many countries and repressive regimes are the main reason for terrorism and creating an environment conducive for the growth of terrorists, noting that the State of Qatar was working on the Syrian issue in a joint operations room with Saudi Arabia. If Qatar is accused of terrorism in Syria, HE the minister said, this means that Saudi Arabia, the United States, Jordan, Turkey and the UAE are all involved.
Regarding the memorandum of understanding between the State of Qatar and the United States to combat terrorism and its financing, HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister stressed that the agreement had backgrounds before the crisis, noting that it dates back to the time before the current U.S. administration.
There was an understanding with all the Gulf countries that there should be a new mechanism to combat terrorism financing, and to hold anyone involved accountable, HE the minister said. And on May 21, 2017, he added, and during the U.S.-Gulf joint summit in Riyadh, Qatar signed the joint mechanism with the United States and the bilateral mechanism between the two countries.
It should have been signed by other countries with Washington, he said, adding that "we do not know the reasons why the rest of the Gulf countries have not signed until now," but the siege countries want to use Qatar's signing as a justification for their claims.
HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani renewed his call to the siege countries to come to the dialogue table, present the facts and have a direct dialogue. He expressed his belief that the siege countries would not be able to sit at the dialogue table due to the lack of grounds for their accusations against the State of Qatar, noting that these countries do not want to settle the Gulf crisis, which means the GCC system does not represent anything for them and that the Kuwaiti mediation and the efforts exerted in it were neither respected nor supported.
As for the U.S. position on the Gulf crisis, he said that their official position was the same as the current one that calls for resolving the dispute and not escalate it, and to engage in dialogue, which the U.S. State Department and Defense Department stated, because what is happening in the Gulf affects the war on terrorism as well as the regional security of the GCC, which is a strategic partner of the United States.
However, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said, the statements of U.S. President Donald Trump back then were controversial and gave the impression that he supports these moves, noting that in the direct talks between HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and President Trump, the U.S. president called on for resolving the issue but he relied in his infromation on the siege countries.
HE the minister pointed out that HH the Emir made it clear to the U.S. president that what is being said of the State of Qatar is from countries that are waging a war against it and is not accurate. He added that the U.S. administration was then fully aware during the crisis that the siege countries based their claims on nothing but political ambitions.
Regarding the 13 demands of the siege countries, which later became six principles, HE the minister said that the principle of the demands towards a sovereign state is unacceptable, and "we in Qatar received them out of respect for the Emir of Kuwait although these demands are irritating for any country."
He noted that the demands were leaked to the media after being delivered to the State of Qatar, adding that Doha legally submitted its response to these demands to HH Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and then the six principles were issued in Cairo and were welcomed by the State of Qatar as governing principles. However, he said, the siege countries brought the 13 demands again to the forefront and at that point it was not understood whether they want the 13 demands or the six principles.
On the relationship with Iran before and after the Gulf crisis, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that the geographical nature of the State of Qatar and the Gulf states is bound by borders with Iran. "There must be respect for this geography whether we agree or disagree with this country," HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said, adding that Qatar and Iran had endless political differences in Syria, Yemen and Iraq as well as all regional issues, and these issues were agreed upon with the GCC and "we respect the neighborhood and believe that settling a political dispute is done through dialogue."
Even at the time of the siege, HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said, there was a disagreement with Iran regarding some regional issues based on the assessment of the State of Qatar. When the siege was declared, he added, the only outlet that opened to Qatar was Iran.
HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani highlighted some facts, saying that the State of Qatar was accused of having special relations with Iran while Iran's first partner in the GCC is the UAE. Although the State of Qatar shares with Iran the largest gas field that is the country's largest economic resource for the Qatari people, all trade, tourism and investment ties with Iran are concentrated in the UAE, and only 10 percent of all trade relations are distributed over the remaining five GCC countries. "However, they accuse us of being the closest to Iran. Qatar was clear in its differences with Iran over the Syrian issue at a time when the Gulf states were in a gray position. Today, Iran deals with us as a neighboring country that is subjected to sanctions and a siege."
Concerning the objectives pursued by the siege countries to put the peoples of the Gulf in the midst of this crisis, HE Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that there is no explanation but the target here is the people of Qatar and the State of Qatar, and these countries have done all that can be done against the people of Qatar.
Therefore, he said, the behavior against Qatari citizens can only be described as "barbaric." In addition, art, music, songs, sports, tribe and other methods were used, including the use of religious discourse as the most dangerous means against a neighboring people and country. "In this sense, we see that the accusations made against one of these countries such as the use of religious platforms to promote their political message were correct because they were used today in the same way to promote this political message."
HE the minister added that the intellectual terrorism of preventing the freedom of expression and the criminalization of sympathy with the State of Qatar is in itself a precedent in the norms of countries, noting that any civilized country rejects such behavior, in addition to the subject of the tribe, which is intended to divide the Qatari people who resisted all these attempts and temptations and confirmed their belonging to Qatar and loyalty to HH the Emir before any narrow tribal affiliation.
HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani stressed that the main factor in overcoming this crisis was the strength and solidity of the home front and the cohesion of the Qatari people and residents who made the difference in this crisis, a point often mentioned by HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in all his meetings.
He said that HH the Emir expressed his pride of those who live on the land of Qatar, whether Qatari or non-Qatari, for their position in this crisis and cohesion in the face of these barbaric acts, some of which were manifested by the distribution of weapons while poetry is recited and horses dance in scenes that are only seen in historic series.
Concerning Bahrain's decision to impose a visa on Qatari citizens, HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said that Doha is aware of the situation of Bahrain. "As we have said before, if they had anything to do with the issue, we would have informed them of our concern, but we are aware that what comes out of Bahrain is coming from outside. We pray for their guidance, and although we do not find words to describe this behavior except for political recklessness, we will not say more than that we wish for their country security, stability and prosperity.
"No doubt that what they did hurts us as we all have roots in the other five GCC states," he said, expressing hope that "the wisdom will prevail and that there will be at least a common language in dialogue so as to overcome this crisis that is unprecedented not only in the Gulf but in international relations."
Concerning the contradictions in the accusation of the State of Qatar of supporting different parties of the conflict in Yemen, HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said that the answer to the question requires reference to the nature of the country's relationship with Yemen, saying that the State of Qatar led a successful mediation in 2009 between then Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Houthis, which resulted in the signing of an agreement that included collecting the weapons of the Houthis in exchange for a program for the reconstruction of the city of Saada.
He added that this agreement was disrupted due to the interests of some GCC countries that did not want to see it achieved because, from their point of view, it would affect their security, and in the post-revolution phase in 2011, President Saleh came out saying that he would not leave the presidency as required by the Gulf initiative as long as Qatar is among the sponsors of the Gulf initiative.
HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that on this basis, the State of Qatar replied that it would withdraw from the Gulf initiative but in turn Qatar asked him to leave. Therefore, Qatar was not part of this Gulf initiative as some are now trying to falsify history when they say that the State of Qatar has not supported it, which is denied by the facts and public press conferences.
He added that in the period after the control of the Houthi forces of Sanaa and the coup against legitimacy, there was a full international movement to restore legitimacy to Sanaa and when a decision was taken to launch the military Operation Decisive Storm, all GCC countries were invited two or three days before the start of the operations. The State of Qatar, he said, explained its point of view in this decision and explaining that Yemeni legitimate forces were only the ones who should carry out this mission not foreign forces, and that it supports the return of legitimacy in accordance with the Gulf initiative, the relevant Security Council resolution and the outputs of the national dialogue agreed in 2014.
HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani stressed that the State of Qatar supported the coalition and was part of it and sent its troops to Saudi Arabia to protect its borders as part of the duty of the State of Qatar towards any GCC country in the event of any threat, and it is Qatar's commitment that it implemented in the case of Kuwait when it was invaded by Iraq in 1990 and did again when it sent its troops to defend the southern border of Saudi Arabia.
Suddenly, HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said, after this crime and media attacks, the State of Qatar is accused of all charges and that it harmed the coalition and its operations in Yemen despite the Qatari blood that was shed and paid to maintain Saudi security. "So how is the military morale of the soldiers of the Qatari army today after they defended the kingdom and some were martyred on the southern border, and others were injured, and what is the impact on them and their families and relatives after being asked to leave the southern border in an unethical manner, and then be accused of treason?"
On the accusation by the siege countries that the State of Qatar gave the Houthis data about the entry of UAE, Saudi and Bahraini soldiers to Marib province in Yemen, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, questioned where these charges against Qatar have been when Doha was participating in the coalition and on the same side of the table with them, whether when decisions were made at the Human Rights Council, in defending the coalition at the Human Rights Council, or in adopting the Security Council resolution on which the coalition and other acts in which the State of Qatar participated with other coalition members were established.
These accusations surfaced after the hacking crime in order to justify and promote for their people the unfair actions against the State of Qatar, and "this is the only justification that we see."
As for the efforts of HE U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and why these efforts were not successful, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that the State of Qatar dealt with HE the U.S. secretary of state in a transparent, open, positive and constructive manner.
He said that the U.S. secretary of state visited Qatar and then Saudi Arabia and met with the siege countries, and then returned to Doha with a proposal of principles and a roadmap and asked for a response to this proposal within five days, and also mentioned that the Saudi crown prince told him that they do not mind a dialogue, but the State of Qatar should issue a statement in a specific format that it is ready to negotiate.
"We agreed and he gave me the wording of the proposal and it was an acceptable format. We issued it in a statement after the departure of the U.S. secretary of state. Saudi Arabia was supposed to issue a similar statement to welcome this. The Qatari statement was issued and no Saudi welcoming statement followed but rather a negative one in response to the Qatari statement.
"Subsequently, we ignored this stage and responded to the roadmap and the list of principles after the five days mentioned by the U.S. secretary of state and nearly 90 percent of them were acceptable whether the roadmap or the principles because they were rational and do not affect the sovereignty of any state and are binding for all, and so was the roadmap. After that, we asked about the measures that should follow. The American response was that the siege countries did not respond and therefore the matter stalled at that time," HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said.
As for the ministerial meeting that preceded the recent GCC summit in Kuwait, HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said that the State of Qatar was informed by HE the Kuwaiti first deputy prime minister and foreign minister that the State of Kuwait had received an acceptance from Saudi Arabia that the summit were to be held in their presence, adding that and the attendance of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain was confirmed. "We also welcomed the participation and that HH the Emir welcomes attending the summit as long as it would be held and that it would be an opportunity to discuss the issue" and be the first direct discussion at the dialogue table in a civilized way.
He added that he went to the ministerial meeting and HE Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah asked him not to raise the issue of the Gulf crisis in the meeting as it would be discussed at the level of the leaders the next day. "We respected the Kuwaiti request but asked that the final declaration included welcoming the Kuwaiti efforts to mediate just as a reference to the crisis, and that what follows would depend on the outcome of the discussion of the leaders at the summit."
HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani added that the next morning before HH the Emir left Doha, "we were told that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain would reduce the level of representation and that they would not participate at the level of the leaders."
He added that, for HH the Emir, he had already decided that he would attend the summit and not reject the invitation of HH Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. HH the Emir had expected it to be an opportunity to meet with them, "but we were surprised by this rough approach in dealing with the GCC and not respecting the Kuwaiti mediation or the Gulf system," HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said, adding that, previously, no matter what the differences were, the summit still took place at the level of leaders or at least the crown princes, but this time was "a precedent to be represented at this level with all respect for the people who represented those countries, but it was not up to the level that there would be a dialogue between them. And the Gulf crisis was not fully addressed."
The Emir of Kuwait addressed the routine matters of the meeting and "we in the State of Qatar see it as an appreciated step by the Emir of Kuwait that he is still trying to save this council by continuing its regular work at least until there is a chance to overcome these differences," HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said.
On the dispute settlement committee that was put forward during the summit, HE said that there is an item in the GCC Charter and another in the Riyadh Agreement on discussing and resolving any dispute, adding that the two items were not respected in this dispute.
HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that the current situation is the result of the siege countries' lack of respect for these two items, but what the Emir of Kuwait put forward is a reasonable request to all the Gulf States to protect their security and stability that they are not subjected to such unilateral sanctions in which there are clear violations of international law that have been condemned in the past by many international organizations, whether the U.N. general Assembly when it condemned the unilateral actions against Cuba or Ecuador, or condemning the ban on the export of oil. He noted that all organizations condemn this act and today it took place under a system like the GCC, and, hence, Kuwait wants to have a clear mechanism for resolving disputes so that conflicts would not reach such a level.
As for the extent to which the crisis might reach and its impact on the GCC countries if it becomes a long-term one, HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said that there is a clear attempt after increasing the international pressure on the siege countries to normalize the crisis and there are many statements that the crisis of Qatar has been overcome or that the State of Qatar no longer represents anything, in addition to childish actions such as not mentioning Qatar in news or in matches, or that Qatar's problem is very, very small.
"If the problem of Qatar was very, very small, according to their words, why do they keep mentioning the name of Qatar and incite against it? Their media carries charges against Qatar every day, in addition to holding conferences on Qatar. So, where is the fault while all this incitement continues and where is the fault while you still incite against the State of Qatar in Western countries? The job of our ambassadors is to develop our relations with the countries that they are sent to, while the job of the ambassadors of the siege countries now is to demonize the relations of the State of Qatar with the countries that they are sent to," HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said.
HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani added that the issue of normalizing the crisis is unrealistic and the siege countries are not honest about it. "But if we look from a humanitarian perspective that unilateral actions against the Qatari people are normalized, then it is unacceptable," he said, adding that depriving a Qatari citizen of his family is racial discrimination and unacceptable in the 21st century.
"To reject someone because of their nationality or race, and to normalize a crisis by denying a Qatari investor access to their investments and press them politically to lose their money because you want to put political pressure on their country is unacceptable.
"To go to countries and offer them money to break ties with Qatar or shut their airway in front of the State of Qatar is unacceptable. These actions show that they do not actually normalize the crisis. They want to normalize the crisis only in the media through statements and this is a clear contradiction," HE the deputy prime minister and foreign minister said.
HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani cited a statement by HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani that the State of Qatar is fine without them, adding that "our main concern is how to not have any impact on our people from this crisis, and the state is continuing its development measures.
In response to a statement by an official of the siege countries that his country is focused on development and that the Qatar crisis is marginal and there are many regional crises, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that the war in Yemen is still ongoing, there is a constitutional crisis in Lebanon, Jerusalem was recognized as the capital of Israel, the prices are rising and there is no positive indication on development in international indices. On the other hand, he added, Qatar has opened one of the largest ports in the region, has secured food security projects, ensured new international trade lines and hosts international events.
He added that HE Dr. Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari, the candidate of the State of Qatar for UNESCO, reached the final stage of voting along with the French candidate. "This is the biggest proof that the State of Qatar has an international status that cannot be affected thanks to the established relations of the State of Qatar with those countries that from the beginning were based on solid and clear foundations," HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said, calling on the siege countries to respect law and the sovereignty of any state and then when measures are applied under the umbrella of national sovereignty, this would be something the State of Qatar cannot reject.