A senior counter-terrorism adviser to Qatar’s foreign minister has hit out at the diplomatic squeeze on Doha by several Gulf states, calling it a “policy of domination and control”.
Mutlaq al-Qahtani, a special envoy to Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said the decision to sever ties by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt – as well as other allies – over Qatar’s alleged funding of armed groups would not prove successful.
“I think this is not about counter-terrorism, it’s not about terror financing,” he told AFP news agency.
“I think it is about an orchestrated campaign against my country to pressure my country to change its active, independent foreign policy. This policy of domination and control is not going to work.”
Qahtani added: “When it comes to terrorism, Qatar has never supported terrorism, Qatar does not support terrorism, Qatar will not support terrorism.”
The tiny gas-rich emirate is at the centre of the biggest diplomatic crisis to hit the Gulf in years.
Qatar has been isolated for the past week by Saudi and others over “terrorism” and because of its relatively relaxed approach to relations with Jeddah’s great regional rival, Iran.
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As a result Qatar’s only land border has been closed, it has been stopped from using the airspace of neighbouring nations, and its citizens have been told to leave various Gulf countries within two weeks.
Qahtani’s remarks are some of the few comments to so far emerge from Doha during the crisis.
The most visible member of the government has been Sheikh Mohammed, who has said Qatar would not “surrender” to the political pressure.
Qahtani said diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute would continue.
“We have more friends, more than other people might think,” he said after Sheikh Mohammed visited Germany and Russia over the weekend.
“So we are engaged and want to engage with more countries.”
He was also dismissive of a “terror blacklist” published by the Gulf allies at the end of last week, which named various Qataris and Qatar-based organisations.
As many as 18 individuals were named, including members of the royal family and a former government minister. Also on the list were Doha-based Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Qatari-funded charities.
Qahtani, though, said the list was little more than a public relations exercise.
“It’s quite unfortunate to use this kind of list, this kind of subject. It’s very serious and extremely dangerous to use it in a PR campaign, in a PR game,” he said.
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Source: AFP news agency