Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has said Qatar will do “whatever it takes to protect our people”, as he accused Gulf states that have imposed a blockade on Doha of trying to undermine his nation’s sovereignty.
Mohammed bin Abdulrahman told the Chatham House think-tank in London on Wednesday that “Qatar continues to call for dialogue”, as Saudi Arabia and its allies hold talks in Egypt to discuss their next move.
“We welcome any serious efforts to resolve our differences with our neighbours,” he said, adding: “We don’t accept intervention in our own affairs.”
“I think if we are not going to have a proper dialogue which will get us to a solution…we are setting a precedent for the future which might be a challenge for other countries in different regions,” he added.
He accused Saudi Arabia and its regional allies of “demanding that we must surrender our sovereignty as the price for ending the siege”.
A group of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia has severed air, sea and ground links with Qatar, cutting off vital routes for imports including food.
They also ordered Qatari citizens to leave their territories and took various steps against Qatari firms and financial institutions.
Later, they put forward a list of 13 demands for Qatar to fulfill by the end of Monday. That period has been extended up to Wednesday.
Without divulging the details of Qatar’s response, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman said Doha has done its part, and it is now the turn of Saudi Arabia and its allies to respond.
“They are the aggressors, and they are the countries which launched an attack on Qatar by imposing all these measures,” he said. “So I should expect from them to take the first step in engagement.
“Whatever measures they are going to take, there is an international law which everyone should respect. We took the first shock, and we are ready to move ahead with our people. We are going to do whatever it takes to protect our people, which is normal for any country.”
The crisis has raised concerns of growing instability in the region, home to some of the world’s largest energy exporters and key Western allies who host US military bases.
Energy-rich Qatar has been defiant throughout the crisis, insisting it can weather action taken against it.