Qatari FM: 'We are an independent country with sovereignty'

Qatar's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani speaks to reporters in Doha, Qatar, June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon
Updated 09 June 2017
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Qatari FM: 'We are an independent country with sovereignty'

DOHA: Qatar’s foreign minister Thursday rejected what he described as interference in his country’s foreign policy, ruling out a military solution to a crisis which has seen Riyadh and its allies cut ties with Doha.
“No one has the right to intervene in our foreign policy,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said.
“We are an independent country with sovereignty,” he told AFP, rejecting tutelage from other states.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain lead a string of countries that this week cut ties with Qatar over what they say is the emirate’s financing of extremist groups and its ties to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional arch-rival.
Qatar denies having any ties to extremists.
A top United Arab Emirates official on Wednesday told AFP that the unprecedented measures aim to pressure Doha into making drastic policy changes.
“This is not about regime change — this is about change of policy, change of approach,” state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said.
Analysts say the crisis is an extension of a pre-existing dispute which saw Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain temporarily recall their ambassadors from Doha in 2014 over Qatari support for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.
The emirate is still home to leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian Hamas and the Afghan Taliban.
Sheikh Mohammed called attempts to isolate Doha “collective punishment” and a “systematic campaign” against Qatar, which he said continued to work alongside the United States against extremism.
“Taliban representation here is done in coordination with the Americans,” he told AFP. “They are hosted here... for peace talks.”
The Gulf crisis has sparked fears of military escalation in an already volatile region. However, the Qatari foreign minister downplayed the likelihood of military conflict.
“We don’t see a military solution as an option” to the crisis, Sheikh Mohammed said.
The UAE’s Gargash said the measures against Doha were currently limited to diplomatic and economic ties, but warned that no one could project the “dynamic of a crisis.”
“Like any crisis, you cannot really control the dynamic... this is one of the dangers of any crisis. There is no intention for us to seek anything but what we look at as economic spheres of activities,” he said in an interview with AFP.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain have suspended all flights to and from Doha and closed off sea and air links to Qatar.
Saudi Arabia has also sealed off Qatar’s only land border, a crucial lifeline for food imports.
Sheikh Mohammed said Qatar could nonetheless survive “forever,” adding that it respected international agreements and would continue supplying liquefied natural gas to the UAE.
Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.


Egypt accuses UN of seeking to ‘politicize’ Morsi death

Updated 24 min 16 sec ago
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Egypt accuses UN of seeking to ‘politicize’ Morsi death

  • Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman said the UN is trying to politicize a natural death
  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an independent investigation into the death of Morsi

CAIRO: Egypt accused the United Nations on Wednesday of seeking to “politicize” the death of the country’s first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi by calling for an “independent inquiry.”

Foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said he condemned “in the strongest terms” the call by the spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, for an independent investigation into Morsi’s death during a court hearing on Monday.

Hafez said it was a “deliberate attempt to politicize a case of natural death.”

Colville called Tuesday for a probe into whether the conditions Morsi faced during his nearly six years in custody had contributed to his death.

“Any sudden death in custody must be followed by a prompt, impartial, thorough and transparent investigation carried out by an independent body to clarify the cause of death,” he said.

“Concerns have been raised regarding the conditions of Mr. Morsi’s detention, including access to adequate medical care, as well as sufficient access to his lawyers and family,” Colville added.

He said the investigation must “encompass all aspects of the authorities’ treatment of Mr. Morsi to examine whether the conditions of his detention had an impact on his death.”

Morsi was toppled by then army chief, now President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in 2013 after a single divisive year in power. He was later charged with an array of offenses including espionage.

Since his ouster, authorities have waged an ongoing crackdown on dissent of all kinds that has seen thousands of Brotherhood supporters jailed and hundreds facing death sentences.

A group of British parliamentarians in March 2018 warned Morsi’s detention conditions, particularly inadequate treatment for his diabetes and liver disease, could trigger “premature death.”