Mutual respect for Qatar’s sovereignty and respectful dialogue are critical if the Gulf states wish to resolve the ongoing crisis, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said in a public address broadcast on television tonight.
In his first public remarks since the Gulf dispute erupted in early June, the Emir called the blockade “collective punishment” and an assault on free speech.
“We should not burden civilians with political differences,” he said, adding that world has chosen to stand with Qatar by not backing the boycotting nations.
HH the Emir highlights the spirit of solidarity, harmony & defiance that prevailed in Qatari ppl frustrated those who banked on the opposite
— Meshal Hamad AlThani (@Amb_AlThani) July 21, 2017
Pivoting away from his neighbors, he also thanked Qatar residents for becoming de facto spokespeople for the country.
Additionally, Sheikh Tamim urged them to use the crisis as an opportunity and a wakeup call.
“We are opening our economy to initiatives, investments, production of food, medicine and ultimately to diversify our sources of income,” the Emir said.
“We are all passing through this test with honor and dignity, we need diligence, creativity, independent thinking and self-reliance for the future,” he added.
Pressure is off
The Emir’s speech comes a day after the government confirmed the UAE was involved in a cyberattack that kicked off the Gulf dispute.
Following the hacking of QNA, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut economic and diplomatic ties with Qatar.
The quartet hoped the move would pressure Qatar to accept 13 demands that included closing Al Jazeera and a Turkish military base in Doha, among other things.
But Qatar has refused to acquiesce.
Failing to garner international support and unwilling or unable to escalate the dispute further, the countries have now scaled back their demands.
In what Qatar’s ambassador to the UN called a “face-saving measure,” the quartet is now asking the country to agree to six general principles about combatting terrorism.
To that, the Emir said tonight that Qatar is “fighting terrorism relentlessly and without compromises, and the international community recognizes this.”
He added, “We are open to dialogue to find solutions to lingering problems, within the framework of respect for the sovereignty.”
He concluded with a call for Arab unity and expressed solidarity with Palestinians who have recently seen the closure of Al Aqsa mosque.
Here are some of the key points from Sheikh Tamim’s address: