Qatar Emir stirs controversy by defending Iran and Hezbollah

Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera has been blocked by the UAE and Saudi Arabia in response to the emir’s statements

Image Credit: AP
Qatar’s Emir Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani

Dubai: Qatar Emir Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani said his country is facing an unjust campaign that coincided with the visit by US President Donald Trump to the region that aimed to link it with terrorism and tarnish its efforts to achieve stability.

“The motives of the campaign are well-known and we will pursue the countries and organisations behind them in order to protect Qatar’s leading role regionally and internationally,” Shaikh Tamim said as he attended a graduation ceremony of national service recruits on Tuesday.

“We deplore the accusation against us that we support terrorism. The real danger is the behaviour of some governments that caused terrorism by adopting an extremist version of Islam that does not reflect its tolerance,” the emir was quoted as saying by the Qatar News Agency (QNA).

Shaikh Tamim said nobody had the right to accuse Qatar of terrorism just because the Muslim Brotherhood has been labelled a terrorist organisation. 

He added that one has the right to reject the resistance status of Hamas and Hezbollah, as well.

The emir called on “the brothers” in Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain to end their continuous anti-Qatar campaigns.

“Qatar does not interfere in the internal affairs of any country no matter how much it deprived its people of their freedom and rights,” he added.

Shaikh Tamim said Qatar’s relations with the US were good despite the problematic new administration.

“However, we believe the situation will change because of the judicial investigations into the president’s abuses.”

Qatar has succeeded in building strong relations with the US and Iran at the same time “because it is unwise to escalate the situation with Iran”, Shaikh Tamim said. 

Shaikh Tamim called for devoting attention to development and tackling poverty instead of engaging in exaggerated arms deals that increased tension in the region.

Damage control 

However, Qatar later said that the statements attributed to Shaikh Tamim were false. 

“The Qatar News Agency website has been hacked by an unknown entity,” reported the Government Communications Office in a statement.

It added that an investigation would be launched into the security breach.
The Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera was blocked in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. 

An analyst on the Saudi state news channel, Al Akhbariya, called Shaikh Tamim’s alleged remarks as “political adolescence”.

The pressure will be compiled by a greater insistence of Gulf countries to push for a Muslim Brotherhood-free GCC.

Gulf slams Qatar stance on Iran and Hezbollah

Gulf people and observers were stunned by statements, attributed to the Emir of Qatar, in which he appeared to defy the official GCC policies on different issues, particularly Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.

“Iran represents a regional and Islamic power that cannot be ignored and it is unwise to face up against it. It is a big power in the stabilisation of the region,” Shaikh Tamim said at a military ceremony. He also described Hamas and Hezbollah as legitimate resistance movement and called Hamas “the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”

Doha denied the statement as “fabricated”. Qatari officials said the website and twitter account of the official news agency, QNA, had been “hacked”.

However, Gulf media and observers were unimpressed with the Qatari explanation, citing previous occasions when Doha acted “against the interests of the GCC,” Saudi newspaper Okaz said. Gulf states have repeatedly warned Doha of harbouring leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood considered as a terrorist organisation in most Gulf countries.

The GCC also criticised Qatar’s strong relations with Iran, accused by the bloc of meddling in the internal affairs of Gulf states, such as Bahrain, and instigating the conflict in Yemen. 

Gulf states also asked Qatar repeatedly to rein in the Doha-based Al Jazeera news channel, which has become a mouthpiece for the Brotherhood and other terror groups such as Al Qaeda and Daesh, Gulf analysts said yesterday. The channel has been blocked in Saudi Arabia and the UAE yesterday as well as other Qatari media websites.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE pulled their envoys from Qatar for about eight months in 2014, accusing Doha of undermining regional security.

Tensions have eased since then, with Qatar promising to toe the GCC official line. But it seems that Doha has again chosen a confrontational way vis a vis other GCC states, Gulf sources said on Wednesday.

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