Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Manama: Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister, attributed the decision by his country to recall its ambassador in neighbouring Qatar to national interests and to show solidarity with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“We have deep-rooted ties with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but there is also a Bahraini aspect to the issue,” Shaikh Khalid said. “Many Bahraini citizens have been lured by the Qatari nationality under the pretext that they have families in Qatar. The issue of nationality has a security dimension. Another issue is that the Qataris are discriminating between the citizens of Bahrain and are acting on a sectarian basis. If the Bahraini is Sunni and member of an Arab tribe in Bahrain, then the door is wide open [for Qatari citizenship]. However, if he is Shiite, the door is shut,” the minister said in an interview with Rotana Khalijia TV channel on Saturday.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE on March 5 pulled out their ambassadors from Qatar after they charged Doha was failing to comply with a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreement not to interfere in the domestic affairs of any of its member states.

The six-member GCC, formed in 1981, also includes Kuwait and Oman. Neither of the two countries recalled their top diplomats.

Manama, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi said that the ambassadors would be reinstated only when Qatar complies with the agreement it signed in Saudi Arabia.

“There are meetings being held and each party is presenting its dossiers to the other,” Shaikh Khalid said. “It is no easy matter to recall an ambassador, but it happened because there are serious issues. We are aware that our leaders can reach solutions, but we do not want to sweep our problems under the carpet. We want solutions and we want our forward-looking progress to achieve robust results as soon as possible,” he said.

The minister added that there were committees that held meetings almost on a weekly basis.

“They do not issue statements on their meetings, and I am sure we will reach a solution. After all, we must all be aware that our interests mean that we must not work or conspire against one another,” he said.

Shaikh Khalid insisted in the interview that Bahrain rejected any plans targeting a GCC member state.

“If for instance the plan by the Muslim Brotherhood targets the UAE or Saudi Arabia, then we reject it and we consider that it is against Bahrain as well. The Saudis and the Emiratis, throughout their histories, have never targeted anyone,” he said.