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Call for international Haj ‘oversight’ blasted

Bahrain, UAE ministers and Saudi analysts say demands prove Qatar’s failure, bad intentions

Gulf News

Dubai: Two ministers, in UAE and Bahrain, have blasted demands for ‘international oversight’ of the holy sites in Makkah and Madinah, and international management of the Haj.

“The call by confused [people] to internationalise the two Holy Mosques will fail, as it has failed before,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted, in an apparent reference to Qatar and its leader.

“We are accustomed to his falls and failures, and we are aware of his conspiracies and [his] ways [of seeking] to cause harm. He will remain isolated and his actions will not bring him safety,” Gargash informed his more than 653,000 followers.

In Manama, Bahraini Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa said demands to internationalise the management of the Holy Mosques were prompted by bitter failures.

“Whenever one of your plans falls through, and whenever one of your conspiracies fails, you resume with your tale of internationalising the [management] of the two Holy Mosques. You had better shut up because the world is laughing at you,” Shaikh Khalid posted on his Twitter account, where he has more than 472,000 followers.

“In fact, your claims about the internationalisation of the two Holy Mosques do not open the door for discussion, but rather reveal the bad intentions, the political bankruptcy, and the moral failure that you are living day after day.”

Shaikh Khalid added all religious sites throughout the world were under sovereign states.

“There is not a single religious centre that people visit for worshipping purposes that is not managed by a sovereign state. This is true of every religious site, whether it belongs to a divine religion or any other religion. In the case of Saudi Arabia, we have the best example of honesty, commitment, care and protection,” Shaikh Khalid posted.

Neither minister mentioned who was behind calls for the internationalisation of Islam’s holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

For Saudis, there is no doubt that Qatar was behind the call for “international oversight” over the holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

In the Saudi capital Riyadh, Saud Al Qah’tani, a media adviser at the royal court, accused Qatar of launching the campaign to internationalise the Islamic holy sites, saying that “the brigades of [former Knesset member and adviser to Qatar] Azmi Bishara and Qatar’s shadow media were strongly promoting the so-called internationalisation of the two holy mosques. They are not ready to face [people] and they live only off conspiracies, lies and degeneration. They create fictitious organisations in far-away countries and set up shadow media and then have them call for the internationalisation of the two holy mosques so that they can deceive people into believing they have nothing to do with it. They had been warned clearly by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir that this amounted to a declaration of war. Do not test the patience of adults,” he posted.

Al Qah’tani was referring to the so-called ‘Global Campaign to End Saudi Politicisation of Holy Places’ that held a demonstration after the Friday prayers near the Saudi embassy in the Indian capital New Delhi.

Saudi analyst and columnist Abdul Rahman Al Rashid said Qatar was making statements to manipulate situations in order to involve other countries in the crisis, and influence world opinion. Qatar is behaving like a child seeking attention from others, he said. “We no longer hear a lot about the dispute with Qatar, save from one side and that is the statements, interviews and announcements by Qatari officials,” Al Rashid said in a column for Al Sharq Al Awsat daily on Tuesday. “Its opponents are focusing on other issues, such as Iran, Yemen and their regional and international relations. This has upset Doha, which wants to bring international focus to its dispute with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.”

In order to draw the attention of the international media, Doha has repeated its claim that there were plans to invade Qatar, topple its Emir and replace him with a new one, he added.

“Whenever a Qatari delegation visits a country, it thanks leaders of the host nation for their support in saving Qatar from being invaded. The claims are well-received in some countries. Thus, Iran, in an official statement, claimed it prevented an imminent invasion of Qatar! The Qataris went on to tell the same story in Turkey, and the Turks declared that they were the ones who prevented the invasion of Doha. In Washington, the Qatari defence minister said the US had prevented Saudi-UAE forces from entering his country. It is clear that the Qataris narrate the same story with some variations ... and give each government a ‘heroic’ role. There was no intention and or attempt to invade Qatar.”

Five indicators

Observers have cited five indicators of the links between Qatar and the so-called Global Campaign to End Saudi Politicisation of Holy Places, which held a demonstration against the ‘politicisation’ of Haj in New Delhi last Friday:

1. The first announcement about this organisation was made by Qatari media.

2. The first reports published by the organisation were exactly the same as the claims published in Qatari media.

3. The organisation refers to the boycott of Qatar as “blockade”, the same expression used in Doha.

4. It has not named any of its members in order to conceal its links with Qatar.

5. None of the reports or statements issued by the so-called organisation was mentioned in non-Qatari media.