Dubai: A Saudi daily on Thursday said that Qatari Foreign Minister Shaikh Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani held a secret meeting last week with Qasim Sulaimani, a senior military officer in the Iranian army and commander of its Quds Force, while he was in Baghdad on an official visit.
“Despite the scarcity of information about the meeting, there were messages in Baghdad that Qatar exited early from the Arab-Islamic consensus, well before the ink of the Riyadh Declaration dried,” Okaz reported.
Reports in Saudi newspapers alleged that Qatari Foreign Minister Shaikh Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani held a secret meeting last week with Qasim Sulaimani, a senior military officer in the Iranian army and commander of its Quds Force.
The Saudi daily alleged that the secret meeting had been arranged by the Iraqi government in return for Doha not demanding $500 million left suspiciously by Qatari officials at Baghdad airport following the release of Qatari hostages held during a hunting trip in southern Iraq.
“Reliable sources said an agreement was reached where Qatar would rebel against the resolutions of the Arab-Islamic-American Summit,” Okaz reported adding that the arrangement was made only 27 hours before the summit.
Iraqi sources have reported “huge developments” in Qatari-Iranian relations about intelligence cooperation between the two countries in the near future which would give Iran a broader scope to carry out its agenda for the region.
Arab and Gulf countries have repeatedly accused Iran of fomenting terrorism and sectarianism in the region and meddling in the domestic affairs of Arab countries.
A string of summits in Riyadh last weekend, attended by US President Donald Trump, cemented a unified Arab and Muslim position against Iran and its terrorist agenda, in which all countries signed off on in the Riyadh Declaration — including Qatar.
However, Qatar’s standing in the Arab world has sharply deteriorated this week after Qatari Emir Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani reportedly said Qatar was facing an “unjust” campaign against it.
He defended Qatar’s support for Hamas and Hezbollah and said it was “unwise” to escalate tensions with Iran.
Shaikh Tamim called on “the brothers” in Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain to end their continuous anti-Qatar campaigns.
However, Qatar later said that the statements attributed to Shaikh Tamim were false and the Qatar News Agency (QNA) was hacked.
It said an investigation would be launched into the security breach.
But on Thursday, Qatar seemed to end its strange silence on the issue when its foreign minister spoke affirming that “a hostile media campaign against Qatar” was being conducted.
“The campaign was particularly in the United States,” its foreign minister said.
“We will confront it.”
Observers familiar with the Qatar’s dealings with terror groups were not shocked by the Qatari comments, both alleged and official.
The statements show Qatar’s real face and the hatred in their hearts, an editorial in Okaz said.
“Its defence of the Iranian terrorist regime shows the secret Doha-Tehran alliance that intends to strike at Arab and Islamic solidarity.”
“The positions of Qatar go against the positions of Gulf and Arab countries. Although it is a small country, it is always looking for a larger role at all costs, even if it tears at fabric of Gulf, Arab and Islamic solidarity. Qatar has misjudged the situation and entered the hornet’s nest.”
“The silence of Arab countries has ended, and the leaf has completely fallen,” it said.
“Qatar supported Hamas, turned against the legitimate Palestinian [National] Authority, publicly declared its aid to Israel, and could not bear the success of the Riyadh summits. This is the country that is playing with fire,” it said.