Dubai: The latest Qatari claims about the Gulf crisis are a combination of lies, lack of vision, unfounded denials and obstinate stubbornness, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, has said.
On Wednesday evening Qatar’s Foreign Minister Shaikh Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman Al Attiyah accused the UAE of launching a media campaign against Qatar in 2017 as a means to build pressure to back up its demands from Doha.
Al Attiyah claimed that all major differences between Qatar the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) had already been resolved through the Riyadh Agreement in 2013 and the Annex Agreement in 2014–adding that much smaller and marginal differences were resolved through bilateral discussions.
Al Attiyah said that Qatar attended the GCC-US summit in Saudi Arabia and there was no mention of any problem and that Qatar took the matter up with Saudi Arabia which offered to mediate between the two countries, he claimed.
He added that the crisis started afterwards, claiming that the alleged hacking of the Qatar News Agency (QNA) website in May was used to intensify the campaign against his country and ultimately to sever relations.
He said two countries were implicated in the hacking, but did not name them.
Shaikh Mohammad said none of the charges related to terrorism and extremism against his country were true and accused Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt of deepening the crisis through pressure and lobbying abroad while Qatar was ready and waiting for a dialogue to reach solutions.
He attributed his country’s expanding ties with Iran to the need to find ways to break out of the “siege” imposed on Qatar, adding that Tehran “did not exploit the political row to starve the people of Qatar.”
Referring to the GCC annual summit held in December in Kuwait City and which was in doubt for a long time, Shaikh Mohammad said that there was “a lack of respect for the Kuwaiti mediation and for the GCC as whole.”
The foreign minister added that while Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt claimed the Qatar issue was “very very very small”, they “wake up and sleep on” the issue of Qatar.
Al Attiyah’s comments were swiftly rejected by Gargash who accused Doha of holding contrasting positions on several issues.
“We are used to the two faces of Qatari political discourse,” he posted on his Twitter account, citing as example the fact that Doha hosted the military base that was used to bomb Iraq during the US invasion in 2003 while at the same time incited Arabs against the bombing (in its Al Jazeera media coverage).
Qatar supported Hamas, but at the same time had warm relations with Israel and Qatar also had contacts with Saudi Arabia yet at the same time conspired against then King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, he added.
Qatar sometimes claims that what is happening is caused by collective jealousy of its achievements, he said, while at other times it claims that it wants to preserve its sovereignty or that it is keen on supporting democracy which does not exist in Qatar.
On other occasions, Qatar claims that it is backing the Arab Spring or that the UAE is working against it, Gargash said.
“How can a responsible political speech deny the systematic Qatari conspiracy against Bahrain and Egypt?” he wondered.
The UAE official rejected the claims by Shaikh Mohammad that there was no evidence Qatar was involved in any form of terrorism or extremism.
Qatar does not seem to want to admit to the obvious and its denial that it is supporting extremism and terrorism is merely a media tactic, he said.
“Qatar recognises the lists presented by the four countries of the individuals and groups when it is dealing with the Americans. However, it denies them when it is dealing with the Gulf,” he said.
Gargash added that Qatar’s leaders were “clearly confused and perplexed and do not want to address the core issues.”
“The solution is for the Qataris to change their stances and approaches that have harmed their country and isolated it from its natural environment,” he said.
Gargash refuted the claims that the UAE was inciting against Qatar and said that Yousuf Al Qaradawi, the Egypt-born Doha-based Muslim Brotherhood leader, had urged to use the Qatari territory to target the UAE.
“For the record, his incitement was part of the 2014 crisis,” he said.
The UAE official said that the problems emerged after 1995 and that prior to that year, Qatar blended in easily with its Gulf environment as a positive neighbour.
He explained that Qatar’s missteps started in 1995, taking the country down on a slippery slope.
The downward spiral can only be stopped if Qatar stops persuing policies that are harmful to both Qatar and the region, he added.
The four countries have clearly specified that the demands they issued represented a clear framework for negotiations to achieve a political solution.
“There is no way the crisis can be resolved without Qatar changing its policy of supporting extremism and terrorism and of conspiring against its neighbours and the region,” he said.
Gargash insisted that the four countries were keen on putting the Qatar issue behind them and moving forward as Doha seems to have chosen the path of isolation.
Commenting on the recent exchanges, Mohammad Jaber, a Bahraini analyst, dissmissed Al Attiyah’s statements.
“Qatar has repeatedly presented itself as the helpless victim in this crisis,” he said.
“The hard facts clearly indicate that Doha is deeply involved in attempts to change the region and of the Arab world. It has used its soft power, finances and the media to achieve its goals under various claims and guise to win support and a place among the most influential players. But the destiny of peoples and nations is not a game to be decided in Doha or in other places conspiring with Doha. Only a blind person would not see how Qatar has tried to influence events in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and many other countries.”
Mohammad said that if Qatar had complied with the charter of the GCC and the Gulf principles, there would have not been a Riyadh Agreement in 2014 in the first place since it was issued to address Doha’s negative attitudes.
“And if Qatar had complied with Riyadh 2013 as it has promised, there would not have been a new deal the following year. The GCC cannot be held hostage to the whims of Qatar as to when and how it wants to adhere to its charter and principles.”
Abdullah Ahmad, another analyst, questioned the timing of Shaikh Mohammad’s interview.
“I am intrigued that the interview was broadcast by Qatar Television soon after Kuwait’s Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad told GCC heads of parliaments and consultative councils that he was optimistic about and end to the crisis and that the row would be transient no matter how long it lasted,” he said.
Mohammad Ali, another analyst, said that Qatar was again telling the world that it wanted to sit at a dialogue table without conditions.
“This in itself is a major pre-condition since it is telling the four countries that they should do away with their 13 demands and shelve their six principles,” he said.
“We are once more dealing with a country that wants to mislead the world, signaling right, but turning left.”