Accusations of attempts to engineer a change of power in the neighboring gulf state of Qatar have bene levelled against Saudi Arabia.
A group of fellow Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including Saudi Arabia had imposed a four-month economic embargo on Qatar. The accusations against Qatar had included supporting terrorism and allying with Iran.
Saudi Arabia is currently trying to destabilize the leadership of Qatar, said Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani during a television interview.
“We see (Saudi) government officials talking about regime change. We see officials inciting the people to go and protest their government, so it is about regime change,” he said.
“We see a country that is bringing back the dark ages of tribes and putting them together in order to create a pressure on connected tribes in Qatar,” the minister added.
Accusing Qatar of allying with Iran in support of terrorism, all ties, including transport links, with Qatar, have been cut by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain. Doha denies the accusation.
Not to curtail terrorism, but more to “disrespect and bully” was in fact the intention of the alliance of blockading countries, Al Thani said.
“It is nothing to do with stopping financing terrorism or hate speech while they are doing the same by promoting incitement against my country, promoting a regime change in my country,” he said.
both the United States and the Emir of Kuwait have helped to steer the blockading countries away from any threat of military action and have helped to calm the rhetoric since the beginning of the crisis, Al Thani said.
After the emirate restored diplomatic relations with neighboring Iran, the Saudi-led coalition took its action against Qatar.
“Restoring diplomatic relations with Iran does not change our policy with them. We cannot increase the tension with them. We need to have dialogue,” he added.
Thousands of U.S. troops engaged in the battle against the so-called Islamic State has its base in Qatar.
The blockade on Qatar is harming that fight, Al Thani said.
“Ninety percent of our supplies, our food supplies, our medical supplies, is coming through the land border and part of that is going to the base,” the minister said.
Those planes can only now use one path, north toward Iran, as air space is now blocked to Qatari aircraft that offer strategic support, he added.
the blockade was not crippling Qatar, said Minister of Economy and Commerce for Qatar Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani.
By importing and exporting more via sea and air, Qatar had found ways to get around land blockades, he said on Tuesday.
“As I’m talking to you now, we are open to business to all around the world so the only affect come from the land border which has been blocked, but we went to the other alternative source to import all our needs,” he said.
Qatar has been forced to accelerate exiting plans for self-sufficiency and to diversify away from oil revenues by the rift with Gulf neighbors, the economy minister said.
(Adapted from CNBC)