Saudi-led blockade aimed at forcing ‘regime change’, says Emir of Qatar

In a candid chat on American television show, 60 Minutes, HE Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al Thani spoke about the now five-month long ongoing diplomatic crisis that has jeopardised the stability in the Gulf region. He believes the attack on Qatar’s sovereignty by the coalition of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt has an ulterior motive: Regime change.

He pointed out: “History tells us, teaches us, they tried to do that before, in 1996 after my father became the emir”.

Expressing shock at the diplomatic blockade, the emir claimed that the obstructionist approach by the Arab bloc seems out of place, unless there is a covert agenda to force change of leadership.

The blockade was imposed on June 5 on the basis of support to terrorism by Qatar, which it has vehemently denied. Interestingly, the blockade was implemented just two weeks after the Arab Islamic – American Summit, which included all parties involved in the blockade.

The emir said: “A few weeks before it all began, we were meeting, all of us together, in one room, including President Trump.” What is astonishing is that while everyone discussed the threat of terrorism and its financing, no one really talked about any action of alienation.

Qatar, though, was asked about the presence of Taliban in the country, for which the emir granted permission to setting up of offices in Doha to investigate and check as per the US request. He categorically denied any support to terrorism.

Qatar’s sovereignty paramount

The emir was clear that there is a difference of opinion “The blockading countries don’t like our independence, the way we think as a society, our vision for the region. We want freedom of speech for the people of the region and they’re not happy with that, and so they think that this is a threat to them. But even if that is the case, we want the crisis to end. But make no mistake, nothing is going to be above our dignity, our sovereignty.”

Considering the volatility of the situation and without mincing words, he warned of the possibility of military confrontation, saying, “I’m fearful that if anything happens, if any military act happens, this region will be in chaos.”

Consensus, not confrontation

Dialogue is the key.

Both sides possess the wisdom and the means to control disputes and tackle the region’s issue suitably. You can agree to disagree, but not at the cost of peace in the closely-connected region. But it will require give and take from both sides and cannot be a one-sided affair.

The Arab bloc has made infringing demands from a sovereign state without addressing its own deep-rooted, extremist ideologies. To make matters worse, they continue to refuse to talk. This suggests that they are looking for a protracted conflict, aimed at hurting Qatar’s economy and its very survival?

The quarrel has disrupted trade, affected workers and families, and delayed projects in Qatar that are critical to FIFA 2022. Of course, Qatar has multiple options to create alternative channels, which could, in turn, alter the economic, social, and political landscape of the Gulf in ways that will ultimately hurt its neighbours. While bringing upon itself some losses, its isolation is bound to usher in an era of new business opportunities and introduce new geopolitical alliances. But that is the last resort. If push comes to shove.

The tiny, yet resolute, nation has demonstrated it will not be held hostage to forces that do not want progress in cosmopolitan Qatar. Yes, it wants to engage in talks. But that is not possible in the current scenario where the Arab bloc is not interested.

 

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