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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 January 2019

UAE's Gargash slams Qatar over Doha Forum remarks 

Qatar's emir accused the GCC of interfering in its internal affairs

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said the Houthis have been "exposed". AFP
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash said the Houthis have been "exposed". AFP

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash hit back at the Emir of Qatar on Saturday evening over his claims that an end to the regional boycott of Doha would be negotiated only if travel and trade bans were dropped first.

Dr Gargash said that while the Qatari ruler “refused interference in his country’s internal affairs, he persists on interfering in his neighbours' and the region's affairs through his country's policies”.

He said he did not believe that under Emir Tamim Al Thani there would be a significant change in Qatar’s policies “that would enable the young leadership to manage matters realistically”.

Dr Gargash added that the Gulf rift was leading Qatari citizens to question their government’s policies.

“It is clear that the Qatari regime is aware that its citizens see their disconnect from the Gulf region as a major existential crisis and an abnormal situation. Hence you see Doha’s desperate attempts to reconcile without addressing the real causes of the conflict.”

The Gulf crisis began in 2017 when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut travel, trade and diplomatic ties with Doha over what they called its destabilising regional influence.

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At the time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation said the steps were taken because of Qatar’s “continued support, funding and hosting of terror groups, primarily the Muslim Brotherhood, and its sustained endeavours to promote the ideologies of Daesh and Al Qaeda across its direct and indirect media”.

Another major point of contention has been the Al Jazeera Arabic news service.

Other Qatari officials who spoke at the Doha Forum, a conference that bills itself as a “global platform for dialogue”, praised the role of regional and international figures with ties to both sides for mediating.

"The [Kuwait] Emir has had a big leadership role in calming the situation which is highly appreciated by Qatar. We continue to count on the role of Kuwait and on the countries in the region to bring it back together," Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told attendees at the annual forum, which ends on Sunday.

In response to Kuwait’s role as an intermediary, Dr Gargash appeared to suggest the foreign minister’s remarks smacked of "desperation".

“We are not adding anything new when we point out that the desperate attempts to seek solutions through Western capitals were not successful or convincing. However, Doha continues under Turkish and Iranian protection to work in the same desperate pattern,” he tweeted.

Instead of trying to de-escalate the crisis, Dr Gargash said Qatar was still inflaming tensions.

“As part of the Qatari series of mistakes which made the crisis worse is the malicious targeting of Saudi Arabia recently and the provocative role with Turkey against Riyadh in Western and international organisations. [But] news about the behind-closed-doors efforts leak faster that Doha expects,” he said.

Dr Gargash also said that measures taken by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt against Qatar intend “to change the destructive course,” taken by Doha.

He also said he believes that Doha will regain its senses and return to its Gulf neighbours “at the appropriate time”.

Updated: December 16, 2018 01:02 PM

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