Sheikh Tamim: Qatar blockade by GCC countries ‘futile’

In comments to major security conference, Sheikh Tamim denounces ‘aggressive’ blockade imposed by four Arab countries.

Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani talks at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 16, 2018.
Qatar has developed new trade routes and accelerated economic diversity, Sheikh Tamim said [Ralph Orlowski/Reuters]

An ongoing blockade of Qatar by a Saudi-led group of countries is “futile”, the Qatari emir has said, warning that the months-long crisis is undermining the region’s security and economic outlook.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017 and imposed a land, sea and air embargo, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”. Doha has repeatedly denied the allegation.

“It has been a futile crisis, manufactured by our neighbours,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani told a major security conference held in Germany on Friday.

“By defusing the impact of the illegal and aggressive measures imposed on our people, Qatar has preserved its sovereignty,” he said.

“Those aggressive actors wish to use smaller states as pawns within their power games and sectarian conflicts.”

Despite the measures against it, Qatar has developed new international trade routes and accelerated economic diversity, Sheikh Tamim added.

On June 22, 2017, the quartet issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of Qatar-based media network Al Jazeera, limiting ties with Iran and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country as a prerequisite to lifting the blockade.

Qatar rejected all the demands, denouncing them as attempts to infringe its sovereignty.

“It is vital to the interests of the people of the Middle East to guarantee the sovereignty of states like Qatar,” Sheilkh Tamim said in his Munich Security Conference address.

“Preserving the sovereignty and the independent decision making of countries like Qatar ensures accelerated development – development like free media and free speech, that the blockading countries insist we surrender.”

Middle East security

Sheikh Tamim also called for a comprehensive security settlement in the Middle East, saying the region must be brought back from the brink of disaster.

“I believe it is time for wider regional security in the Middle East … for all nations of the region to forget the past and agree on basic security principles and rules of governance,” he said, adding that a future governance model for the region ought to be based on the European Union.

Earlier on Friday, UN SecretaryGeneral Antonio Guterres warned of a “mess” in the Middle East.

“The Middle East … [has] a number of different faultlines that are crossing each other and interconnected,” Guterres said during his address to the conference, pointing to ongoing tensions between Israel and Palestine, Sunni and Shia Muslims and the Gulf crisis.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir are all expected to address delegates during the annual-three day security conference.

An open discussion on the current political tensions in the Gulf region is also scheduled to be held on Sunday.

Source: Al Jazeera