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Bahrain’s PM Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al- Khalifa receives the Kuwaiti Deputy Speaker Mubarak Al- Khrainaj
QATAR ‘WON’T BOW’...WILL ADHERE TO FOREIGN POLICY Kuwait keen to promote Gulf solidarity

KUWAIT CITY, March 6, (Agencies): Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah Al-Sabah emphasized in a press statement on Thursday Kuwait’s keenness on promoting solidarity and unity among member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). He underscored Kuwait’s commitment to contain any rift that may befall states of the GCC, noting it has been Kuwait’s position to always pull the fuse from any such rift that may pit one or more member of the GCC states against another. He said that the chief mitigator in such situations was His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al- Ahmad Al-Sabah.

He made these comments on the background of the recent differences of viewpoints regarding certain issues between Qatar on one end and Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain on the other end. “It is not abnormal for contentions to occur among members of one big family,” he said, stressing that the leaders of the GCC were up to the task of ironing out any differences among them. Meanwhile, Qatar will not bow to demands from three Gulf states to alter its foreign policy, sources close to its government said, suggesting Doha is unlikely to abandon support for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Syrian Islamists.

In an unprecedented move, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar on Wednesday, saying Doha had failed to abide by an accord not to interfere in each others’ internal affairs. Hours later Qatar’s cabinet voiced “regret and surprise” at the decision by the fellow-members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), but said Doha would not pull out its own envoys and that it remained committed to GCC security. On Thursday, a source close to the Qatari government suggested Qatar would not comply. “Qatar will not let go of its foreign policy, no matter what the pressures are. This is a matter of principles which we will stick to, no matter the price,” the source said.

The source also suggested Qatar would not stop its practice of playing host to members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including Youssef al-Qaradawi, an influential Sunni cleric and a vocal critic of authorities in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. “Since the day Qatar was founded we decided to take this approach of always welcoming anyone who seeks refuge in our country, and no amount of pressure will make us kick these people out,” said the source close to the government. A source at the foreign ministry said: “It’s the right of every sovereign state to have its own foreign policy.” The source also suggested that Qatar had no differences with fellow Gulf Arab states on Gulf matters.

The dispute “is more about differences in foreign policy approaches”, the source added, referring to issues in the Middle East such as the crises in Egypt and Syria. Saudi Arabia and the UAE clearly do see Qatar as at odds with them on Gulf issues.

They are fuming especially over Qatar’s support for the Brotherhood, an Islamist movement whose political ideology challenges the principle of dynastic rule. They also resent the way Doha has sheltered Qaradawi and given him regular airtime on its pan-Arab satellite television channel Al Jazeera, and on Qatari state television. The GCC, which normally keeps its disputes under wraps, is a pro-Western alliance of monarchies set up in the 1980s to counter Iranian influence in the Gulf, and includes several of the world’s biggest producers and exporters of oil and gas.

 

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