Today is the 423 day of the blockade imposed against Qatar by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani spoke to Al Jazeera after several Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states and other nations severed diplomatic ties. Here are Sheikh Mohammed’s responses:
Al Jazeera: What are the reasons for this crisis?
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani: We expressed our regrets and surprise over the escalations against Qatar. We don’t know if there were real reasons behind this crisis or hidden ones that we don’t know about.
If there were real reasons for this crises, it could have been discussed at the GCC meeting that took place a few weeks ago, but nothing has been said or discussed at all. Also, nothing was said during the American-Islamic-Arab summit in Riyadh. So there was nothing said at these events and we had no indication that the crisis was about to erupt.
So this shows that the [Saudi and UAE-funded media] media fabricated news against Qatar and made up lies about it. This media campaign took place only after the hacking incident. The massive media campaign against Qatar that insulted Qatar and its leaders was unprecedented by GCC standards. We in Qatar did not slide down into this road. We dealt with it with patience and wisdom.
Al Jazeera: Emir Sheikh Tamim was to give a speech tonight, but delayed it. Why?
Sheikh Mohammed: Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was about to give a speech addressing the people of Qatar tonight, but he received a call from the emir of Kuwait asking him to postpone it in order to give time to solve the crisis. The emir of Kuwait was instrumental in resolving the crisis that took place in 2014.
The steps taken against Qatar were unprecedented and were one-sided. We in Qatar did not take any steps in kind or similar to it, we believe any issue could be solved through discussion and mutual respect.
I received and made calls with many brotherly and friendly foreign ministers who supported the efforts to solve this crisis. There are several wars in the Arab world. There are crises in Syria, Libya, and Yemen, and we find it rather strange that the GCC has decided to attack Qatar at this particular time.
This brings about real questions about the future of the GCC nations, which are basically one people who share the same language and have extensive family ties among its peoples. That said, however, we reject that some in the GCC are trying to impose their will on Qatar or intervene in its internal affairs. This is rejected. But overall, we think there is a big question mark on this GCC.
Al Jazeera: How will this crisis affect ordinary life in Qatar?
Sheikh Mohammed: There have been several crises that took place in Qatar. There was the 1996 change of government and the 2014 crisis between the GCC nations and Qatar. Yet we overcame it. Qatar will depend on itself to provide its citizens and residents normal life. We have programmes that will ensure the continuity of life and the major building projects as normal.
Qatar has been subjected to a media defamation campaign. The talk about economic hardship in Qatar as a result of the current crises is inaccurate. We are only affected in terms of our land borders with Saudi Arabia. Other than that, we are not affected since we still have access to the world through international sea lanes and international airspace.
Al Jazeera: How will relations with the United States be affected by this?
Sheikh Mohammed: Qatar has been subjected to a massive campaign against it in the West, especially from an ambassador of one country in the GCC, which is a violation of its charter. The campaign against Qatar accusing it of terrorism comes from marginal institutions.
Our relations with the US are made through official institutions and are strong. Qatar-US relations are not made by marginal groups, rather by the official US government institutions. We have a strategic partnership with the US, we are strong partners in the fight against terrorism, and towards peace in the Middle East.