Qatar’s emir warns against military action
Qatar’s emir warned against any military confrontation over the ongoing diplomatic dispute between his country and four other Arab nations, saying it would only plunge the region into chaos.
Speaking to the American television network CBS’S “60 Minutes” news program, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani acknowledged the alleged military threat, AP reported on Sunday.
“I’m fearful that if anything happens, if any military act happens, this region will be in chaos,” he said.
Sheikh Tamim said US President Donald Trump has offered to host a meeting between Qatar and its opponents — Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — to end the crisis between the American allies. “It was supposed to be very soon, this meeting,” he said. The emir said so far, however, there’s been no response from the boycotting nations.
The threat of a military confrontation between the countries loomed in the initial days following the start of boycott on June 5. Arabic-language media in the boycotting nations suggested the need for a “Peninsula Shield” operation, which is the military arm of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, though government officials downplayed the idea at the time. Saudi Arabia and the UAE’S forces attached to Peninsula Shield previously deployed into Bahrain to put down its 2011 protests.
Elsewhere in his interview, Sheikh Tamim stressed that the blockade imposed on Qatar had targeted its “independence”.
Asked whether Qatar will bend to the demands from the Saudi-led bloc, he said, “Our sovereignty is a red line. We don’t accept anybody interfering [with] our sovereignty.”
Touching on Doha’s relations with Tehran, the Qatari emir emphasized that despite differences, “Iran is our neighbor … the only way for us to provide food and medicine for our people was through Iran” during the Saudi-led siege.
Sheikh Tamim’s comments drew immediate criticism early Sunday from Emirati Minister of State for International Affairs Anwar Gargash. “To go to the Western media and attack Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates at this point is desperate,” Gargash wrote on Twitter. Qatar “should accept its isolation without sniveling and do what it must.”