The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, on Tuesday reiterated his call for stability in the Gulf amid rising tensions in the region.
“The strategic importance of the Gulf makes stability in that region a regional and international need,” Al Thani told the United Nations General Assembly.
“We stress our firm position to keep the region clear of risks by resolving differences through dialogue based on common interests and respect for the sovereignty of its states,” he added. “Stirring up tension and dictating the will by blockading and using sanctions are not in the interest of any of these states.”
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt have enforced a sea, air and land blockade against Qatar since June 2017.
The blockading countries have accused Doha of having strong ties with Iran, interfering in regional affairs and supporting “terrorism”. Qatar has strongly denied the allegations.
On Tuesday, the emir repeated his calls for the four countries to end their “unjust, unlawful and unjustified” blockade of Qatar.
During his speech, he also denounced the “continuation of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the Arab territories in general”.
“The ensuing unlawful practices and, in particular, expansion of settlements, Judaisation of the city of Jerusalem, unjust and strangling blockade of the Gaza Strip and intensification of settlement activity in the Syrian Golan Heights … are happening in overt defiance to the UN and its resolutions,” Al Thani told the UN.
He went on to call for a “permanent peace based on justice”, including “the establishment of the Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital and the end of Israeli occupation of all occupied Arab lands”.
Emir criticises those backing ‘Libyan warlords’
The Qatari emir also took a swipe at countries backing Libyan armed groups fighting the internationally-backed government, which Qatar supports.
“The latest military operations on the capital Tripoli have thwarted the holding of the comprehensive Libyan national conference,” Al Thani said.
“There is an internationally-recognised settlement, but certain countries say they formally participate in international efforts on one hand and then undermine these efforts on another hand by supporting warlords and terrorist militias for their narrow interests against the legitimate government,” he added.
“Unless action is taken in the near term, it is highly likely that the current conflict will escalate into full civil war,” Guterres said in a report on the UN Support Mission in Libya at the end of August.
He acknowledged the need for the support of the international community in finding a political solution for the country, where forces loyal to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive to take the capital Tripoli from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in early April.
Fighting on the outskirts of Tripoli has killed about 1,000 people and displaced more than 120,000 since the start of Haftar’s offensive.
In his report, Guterres also expressed concern for refugees and migrants in oil-rich Libya, which has been mired in chaos since the NATO-backed toppling of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and split into rival eastern and western administrations since 2014.
Al Thani’s speech came not long after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi‘s address to the UNGA.
Egypt, along with the UAE, is a supporter of Haftar.
“This conflict needs to be stopped. It is time to take a bold and decisive stand to address the root causes of the Libyan crisis comprehensively and can be achieved by fully committing to the United Nations plan,” el-Sisi said.
UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame last month unveiled plans for an international conference to bring together foreign powers backing rival groups on the ground, without naming a venue.
Germany has emerged as a possible location, with Berlin trying to put it together by October. Salame believes it can mediate as Germany is seen as impartial in the conflict in contrast to France and Italy, which have been competing for influence. France and Italy have oil and gas interests in Libya and have been accused of backing protagonists in the conflict.
Both countries brought Haftar and GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, along with regional players, together at summits in Paris and Palermo last year, but failed to achieve a breakthrough.
The two countries will host a meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA on Thursday, which they say aims to move towards the UN-backed conference.
“There will be no military solution in Libya. Those who believe it are wrong and risk dragging the country into a dramatic turn,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters.