The top US official’s visit to Doha followed a stopover in Tel Aviv, which is currently engaged in a brutal campaign that has so far killed 1,799 Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.
Qatar has slammed exploitative attempts to harm its reputation as a key mediator during a joint press conference with a top US official in Doha on Friday.
Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani held a joint press conference with United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss the ongoing escalations in Gaza, where more than 1,750 have been killed by Israeli bombardment.
“I must stress here that Qatar’s commitment and its role as a partner in peacemaking and a mediator in reducing conflict should not be exploited to harm my country’s reputation through malicious accusations, the falsity of which previous experiences have proven,” Sheikh Mohammed told the press at the Amiri Diwan.
Qatar, which hosts a Hamas political office, has been at the forefront of de-escalation efforts in Gaza since the onset of the latest events. Since announcing its role to mediate alongside its international partners, Doha has been on the receiving end of attacks from western media.
Throughout the week, a number of German outlets engaged in what has been widely described as “a misinformation” campaign targeting the Gulf mediator. Numerous headlines by German media outlets, including Bild, have described Qatar’s leader as a billionaire that “finances terrorism”.
The reports were published during an official visit by Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to Berlin on Thursday. In one such report, German media outlet Zeit Online described Qatar’s leader as “the suspicious guest” and referenced its hosting of the Hamas political office.
In response to a question from American press on whether Qatar would shut the Hamas office in Doha, Sheikh Mohammed said the bureau “is used to communicate with the movement and bring peace and tranquility.”
“We are keen that the only way to a peaceful solution is to keep all channels of communications open with all the relevant authorities to resolve this crisis,” Sheikh Mohammed told the press.
The top Qatari official warned that “expanding the circle of conflict will have serious consequences”.
Meanwhile, Doha has also faced disinformation campaigns designed to discredit its reputation on the global stage.
On Wednesday, dubious Emirati-linked account, ‘Qatar Affairs’ shared a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, alleging “the State of Qatar threatened to stop gas supplies to the world if the bombing of Gaza does not stop.”
The remarks raised eyebrows among Qatar watchers on social media with many calling out the suspicious account for its years-long misinformation.
“Qattar_affairs is an account used to try and frame Qatar in a negative light. It masquerades as a legitimate news account and the majority of its content is designed to make it look like a standard Qatar news account, but like many disinfo ops, it will occasionally include obvious disinformation,” Marc Owen Jones, an associate professor of Middle East Studies at Hamad bin Khalifa University in Qatar, told Doha News on Thursday.
The expert had already exposed the account back in 2021 and detailed the similarities it had with another account called “Qatar_Affairs”, which was suspended after the 2017 blockade on Qatar.
Both accounts are believed to be linked to the United Arab Emirates’ propaganda machine. However, a message on the ‘Qatar Affairs‘ profile on Thursday confirmed the account was suspended for violating X rules just days after it published the fake report.
Speaking on the false reports, Jones said the dubious account was attempting “to make Qatar look like an unreliable partner for nations who rely on it for gas.”
Throughout the 2017 blockade, Qatar vowed it would not cut gas supplies to neighbouring UAE, despite the latter’s severance of ties with Doha. At the time, QatarEnergy CEO Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi told Al Jazeera that his country would not halt supplies “to its brothers”.
“But if we cut the gas, it does great harm to the UAE and the people of the UAE, who are considered like brothers…we decided not to cut the gas now,” Al-Kaabi said at the time.
Blinken’s visit to Doha on Friday followed a trip to Tel Aviv and Amman and is part of de-escalation efforts and attempts to release Israeli hostages that were captured by Hamas during last week’s operation ‘Al Aqsa Flood’.
Since the unprecedented Palestinian operation, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) have waged a deadly war on Gaza, killing at least 1,799 Palestinians, including more than 400 children.
By Monday, Israel imposed a complete siege on the already blockaded Gaza Strip in a controversial move that blocked access water, electricity and basic necessities.
Discussions between the Qatari and American foreign ministers in Doha mainly centered on the worsening catastrophe on the ground as well as the opening of humanitarian corridors for Palestinians in Gaza.
“We exchanged views over ways to open humanitarian corridors to deliver aid to the Palestinian brothers stuck under the bombardment,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
Blinken said that both parties have had “very productive discussions” in the Gulf state and stated the two countries “share a goal of preventing this conflict from spreading.”
The US official also accused Hamas of using the Israeli hostages as “human shields” and of allegedly obstructing the establishment of a humanitarian corridor.
“Israel is conducting operations in Gaza because Hamas carried out terrorist attacks that killed, in the most horrific way, 1,500 of its people,” he claimed. Blinken added that Israel has the right to self defence as it “continues to respond to Hamas’ devastating attacks”.
Following its operation, Hamas said it was launched in response to intensified Israeli attacks on Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the repeated settler storming of the Al-Aqsa mosque in an attempt to change the status-quo of the holy Muslim site.
Meanwhile on Friday, Israel ordered more than 1 million in Gaza to move south within 24 hours and warned it would continue “to operate significantly”, triggering concerns of a looming ground invasion.
The United Nations has described the demand as “impossible” and warned it would have dire humanitarian consequences.
According to journalists on the ground, thousands have fled to the south, but there appears to be no mass exodus from Gaza City, with Palestinians adamant on standing their ground.