DUBAI: The Gulf states cannot compromise with terrorism and cannot allow countries such as Qatar to support it, a leading Emirati businessman and commentator said on Wednesday.
“If you support terrorism, you get punished, you are either our friend or foe,” Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor told a discussion forum in Dubai.
“We commend our leaders for their patience with Qatar for more than 20 years, and are waiting for its leaders to get back on the right track. We have to be clear, we are against terrorism and we hope that Qatar comes around to its Khaleeji home.”
The Anti-Terror Quartet, comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, severed diplomatic relations with Qatar in June and imposed a trade and travel boycott to protest at Doha’s support and funding of extremists.
“The boycott against the Qatari government is not against the Qatari people,” Al-Habtoor said. “We don’t have any evil intentions toward the people. We are not trying to harm them, they are our brothers and our neighbors.”
Al-Habtoor is the founder and chairman of Al-Habtoor group of companies, a conglomerate based in Dubai with interests from engineering and construction to hospitals and hotels. He is also a political commentator and Arab News columnist.
The businessman was speaking at a forum at his company headquarters to discuss the Qatar boycott and the output of the Qatar-owned broadcaster Al Jazeera. The panelists were Faisal J. Abbas, editor in chief of Arab News; Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, a professor of political science; Dr. Abdullah Al-Mutawa, director of Al Arabiya News in Dubai; Ahmed Al-Jarallah, editor in chief of the Kuwaiti newspapers Arab Times and Al-Seyassah; Dr. Fahd Al-Shelaimi, chairman of the Gulf Forum for Peace and Security; and prominent Egyptian lawyer Khaled Abou Bakr.
“Egypt is the country that suffered the most from Qatar,” Abou Bakr told the forum. “We have shed our own blood because of them. Mothers have lost their sons and this has all been supported by Qatari funds.”
Tarek Al-Zarouni, a former Al Jazeera reporter and the author of “Alone in Al Jazeera,” told the forum via teleconference: “Al Jazeera is Qatar’s Trojan horse, the main supporter of terrorism, shaming Islam by making Yusuf Al-Qaradawi the mufti of the country.
“Al-Qaradawi has a weekly presence on the news channel and he has the Foreign Ministry’s support. He is a symbol of terrorism. We need a strong media apparatus to broadcast facts, a soft power to fight against Al Jazeera.”