It has been one year since Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting “terrorism” and fermenting regional instability.
Land and maritime borders with the Gulf country were shut, air links suspended and Qatari citizens expelled.
How is the state of Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of natural gas (LNG), coping with the GCC crisis? And how will the ongoing dispute affect the Gulf region’s future?
We talk to Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, about the worst diplomatic crisis in the GCC‘s history, the effect of the blockade, and alleged threats of military action by Saudi Arabia over Doha’s plans to buy military equipment from Russia.
“The purchase of any military equipment is a sovereign decision that no country has anything to do with,” he told Al Jazeera.
“There’s no legitimate grievance behind this letter [from Saudi King Salman to Emmanuel Macron] and of threatening Qatar. It’s violating international law, it’s violating all the international norms and, most importantly, it’s violating the GCC charter, which says the countries of the GCC should not launch any kind of attack against each other,” he said.
According to Al Thani, “The amount of tension in this region is increasing and unfortunately, it’s increasing because of this impulsive behaviour conducted by the blockading states.
“All our friends and allies play a role in preventing any further escalation in the region because they understand that the region cannot afford further escalation … and the US is a strong ally for Qatar and for the other GCC members.”
Asked about whether there’s any hope to end the crisis, Al Thani said, “Qatar remains open to any possibility of dialogue which is based on respect of international law, which is based on respecting the sovereignty of each and every country, based on the respect and independence of every country.
“They cannot impose demands on a sovereign country. If they have any concerns, any grievances, they have to sit at a dialogue table and discuss those concerns.”