Qatar FM: Imposing policies ‘out of the question’

Qatar FM: Imposing policies ‘out of the question’
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani during his interview with CNN.
Updated 07 June 2017

Qatar FM: Imposing policies ‘out of the question’

Qatar FM: Imposing policies ‘out of the question’

JEDDAH: Qatar’s foreign minister told CNN’s Becky Anderson on Tuesday that Doha believes in diplomacy with regard to the severing of ties by Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
But it is “out of the question” to impose policies on Qatar, said Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, who denied accusations that Doha supports terrorist and extremist groups.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
Q: Let me reiterate the accusations against Qatar. Saudi says it has cut ties because, and I quote, of your country’s “embrace of various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilizing the region.” They say that includes the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda. Is that true or false?
A: With all respect, this statement is full of contradiction because it says we are supporting Iran and extremist groups in Syria, and we are supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and the Houthis. About our support to the Saudi opposition or sectarian moves, this is totally false information. Actually, cooperation between the security and intelligence agencies of Qatar and Saudi Arabia has been serving the purpose of national security.
Q: The UAE’s state minister for foreign affairs has just spoken to CNN and says Qatar’s financial and logistical support for extremist organizations like Al-Nusra Front and groups in Libya and the Sinai has gone too far. Your response?
A:
There is no support going to Al-Nusra or Al-Qaeda or others. Our position is firm: To support the Syrian people’s right to justice and a free life. Whatever accusations are being thrown are all based on misinformation. The entire crisis is based on misinformation because it started based on fabricated news inserted in our national news agency, which was hacked days before.
Q: This is a flat-out denial, as Trump and the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs both suggest Qatar is involved in Islamic extremism, correct?
A:
Qatar is preventing war because we are promoting peace, open diplomacy, dialogue and education. We are creating jobs for the people of the Middle East. We are replacing weapons with pens when we are educating young children in refugee camps. We are protecting the world from potential terrorists with all the work we are doing.
Q: You do have well-documented ties with groups like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Will you cut those ties?
A:
Qatar believes in diplomacy. I want to clarify for you that Hamas had a political office in Qatar, and now their leadership is being elected inside Palestine and they are there. The leaders are coming and going in and out of Qatar for engagement and dialogue between Palestinians, which was in coordination with the Americans and the international community.
Q: There have been reports that Qatar has kicked out Hamas assets. There are still Hamas personnel in Qatar?
A:
Yes. We did not ask them to leave.
Q: The Muslim Brotherhood is designated a terrorist organization by other countries, specifically Saudi and the UAE. Will you continue to have ties with the Brotherhood? This is clearly more than an irritant to your allies.
A:
We do not have ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. We deal with governments. When the Muslim Brotherhood ruled Egypt, we supported Egypt… We have stated many times that we have no ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. Are we going to list them as a terrorist organization? We did not have any proof that the Muslim Brotherhood committed an act of terror. They will be listed based on the acts they have done.
Q: Unless you were to designate them, you will continue to have problems with the UAE and Saudi, correct?
A:
If the problem with Saudi and the UAE is based on our foreign policy and they want to impose policies on Qatar, this is out of the question. Each country has its own sovereignty. We have repeatedly said anything that will affect the security of a country, we are courageous enough to sit and talk about it and to change course. But if there is intervention in our affairs or to change our policy because it contradicts other policies in different countries, this is not going to happen. Qatari policy is based on our principles. We always promote dialogue and engagement; that does not mean endorsement.
Q: What do the Saudis and Emiratis want you to do? And are you prepared to toe the line?
A:
We have differences with Iran but we believe in dialogue. We will stick to the same principles that we are basing our dialogue on. Everyone needs to have, wants to have, a positive relationship with Iran since Iran is a neighbor. No one can change geography. We cannot change course by taking a hostile measure.
Q: There are reports of food shortages, worries about people not being to leave your country. How long do you hold out if this sort of siege, as it were, continues?
A:
Right now it is business as usual. We have no problem with food supply. Yes some of our supplies come from the land border, but we have an alternative that we are prepared for. We already have storages in Qatar… a strategic reserve and strategic program. We do not see that life will be affected at all. International navigation is open. We have sea navigation, we have air navigation. Suppliers from different countries can be identified. They are already identified.