DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Oct 29, (Agencies): Qatar’s Amir has 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.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani 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. Speaking to the American television network CBS’s “60 Minutes” news program, Sheikh Tamim said so far, however, there’s been no response from the boycotting nations. “It was supposed to be very soon, this meeting,” he said.
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 Gulf Cooperation Council, though government officials downplayed the idea at the time. Saudi and UAE forces attached to Peninsula Shield previously deployed into Bahrain to put down its 2011 Arab Spring protests.
When meeting in Washington with Trump in September, Kuwaiti Amir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah said that mediation by the American president helped avoid any violence. “Thank God, now, what is important is that we have stopped any military action,” said Sheikh Sabah, who himself has been trying to mediate the dispute. In the “60 Minutes” interview, which will air Sunday night in the US, Sheikh Tamim acknowledged the alleged military threat. “I’m fearful that if anything happens, if any military act happens, this region will be in chaos,” he said.
His 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.” The four countries boycotting Qatar allege the natural gas-rich nation funds extremists, and are opposed to its support for Islamist opposition groups and ties to Iran, with which it shares a massive gas field. Doha long has denied funding extremists.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani discussed Sunday with member of the European Parliament (EP), and Chairperson of the EP’s delegation for relations with the Arabian Peninsula Michele Alliot-Marie, the latest developments on the Gulf crisis.
The Qatari Foreign Minister also discussed with Alliot-Marie relations between his country and the European Union (EU) and means to boost them, Qatari News Agency reported. Last Friday, Alliot-Marie visited as part of her tour in the Gulf region, which also included Saudi Arabia. She praised the leading role of Kuwait in the regional and international arenas, led by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah, expressing keenness to boost ties and coordination with the State of Kuwait.