HE the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, has underlined that Qatar has never undermined the collective security of the region, as “we believe that any threat to the region is a threat to Qatar”.
Qatar continues to call for dialogue, despite the violations of international laws and regulations, despite the separation of 12 thousand families, despite the siege that is a clear aggression and an insult to all international treaties, bodies and jurisdiction, HE the Foreign Minister noted.
He said that officials from the blockading countries were not merely criticising Qatar’s policies — something “we have always welcomed” but they were calling for a regime change in Qatar, a coup, and inciting hate and violence.
In a speech he delivered at the British Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, the minister said that officials from the besieged countries were not only criticising Qatar’s policies but also demand a change of regime in Qatar, by a coup, inciting hatred and violence.
He said: “I am sure most of you are following the latest developments, and know that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain have imposed a political, economic and social blockade against our country.
“Some of the audience here who follow Arabic media outlets would have noticed the double narrative that the blockading countries have been using; one for Western audiences, and one for their own people.”
The Foreign Minister added that the one for their own people comes as they failed to justify their unjust measures against a neighbouring country in the holy month of Ramadan.
“As you know sympathy with Qatar is now criminalised in some of these countries; an indicator of how unpopular this escalation has been in the countries that caused it,” he noted.
“What distinguishes Qatar in the region is not its wealth nor its natural resources, nor is it in its high rise buildings. It is the fact that development is at the core of both its domestic and foreign policy.
“Today, Qatar has a distinct economic situation and the highest level of transparency and most importantly, the highest level of security and stability in the Middle East and North Africa region.
“Qatar ranks first in the world in most efficient government, according to the world economic forum. Regionally, Qatar ranks first in countering administrative corruption and the adoption of judicial procedures to protect the rule of law. In regards to human potential, Qatar also ranks first.”
He added that this development emanates from the principles of good governance, as Qatar ranks first in the world in terms of confidence in political decision making and second in the level of efficiency of the legislative system.
Qatari women have been partners in this development, with their participation in the labour force and access to education reaching unprecedented heights.
Qatar today is home to the highest proportion of employed women in the GCC and women outnumber men in university education, HE the Minister said.
HE the Foreign Minister further said that this development was witnessed also through freedom of worship in Qatar, with donations from His Highness the Father Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, towards the construction of the largest church in the GCC.
HE the Minister noted that media broadcasters hosted by Qatar have completely transformed the Arab world, with the Al Jazeera network giving air time, without prejudice, to social and cultural topics, as well as political movements whether leftist, liberal or Islamist which were otherwise stifled across the region.
“The need for a free, non-partisan media which addressed the concerns of Arab citizens was badly felt, and Qatar’s willingness to host an institution such as Al Jazeera undoubtedly endeared the country to the wider Arab public,” HE the Foreign Minister said.
He added that Qatar’s media policies were warmly received by the Arab public as well as in the United States and in Europe.
“In contrast, they created resentment among the forces which had previously been able to control the flow of information throughout the Middle East. This resentment intensified following the popular revolutions known as the “Arab Spring” of 2011.
“Arab regimes, surprised by the scale of popular protest, chose to avoid accountability by blaming the media.
“Today, Qatar has one of the most highly educated population in the region, the highest per capita GDP in the world; a thriving, diversified economy; some of the finest educational institutions in the Middle East, if not the world — and, of course, a World Cup to look forward to in 2022.
“Above all, and unlike many states in the Middle East, Qatar was not built on oppression, fear, and censorship. And through it all, we have continued to chart our own course, and take an independent view on global and regional events.”
His Excellency also touched on some recent events, saying: “Beginning in April, Qatar was subjected to a carefully orchestrated and unprecedented smear campaign designed to misrepresent our policies and our positions on key issues affecting our region.
“The climax of that campaign came on May 24, when the website of our official news agency was hacked, and fake quotes, attributed to His Highness the Emir were posted on line.
“Some fake quotes with my name on them were also sent out on our Twitter feed.
“Once we sorted out the technical details, we sent urgent messages to all of the news organisations in the region, alerting them to the false statements that had been posted on our website.
“Almost all of them immediately issued corrections and alerted their readers and viewers that the fabricated “statements” were actually “fake news”, lies.
“Except, that is, for the news outlets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and Bahrain and Egypt, which continued to report the fake news as fact. “It is worthy to note that Qatar news outlets were censored in these blockading countries two hours before the fabricated news was published. Furthermore, officials from the blockading countries were not merely criticising Qatar’s policies — something we have always welcomed — but they were calling for a regime change in Qatar, a coup, and inciting hate and violence.
“Though the hacking incident was quickly exposed, Saudi Arabia and the UAE used it as the pretext for launching an unprovoked, unwarranted and unjustified blockade of Qatar on June 5.
“For almost three weeks, after June 5, we have been asking for specific demands as our neighbours decided to put the cart before the horse. And only under international and especially American pressure did they, on June 23, present us with a list of 13 “demands” that they said we had to meet by July 3.
“It was immediately apparent to us that they did not represent “reasonable and actionable” grievances against Qatar, as the US Secretary of State had hoped, and they were not “measured and realistic “as the UK’s Foreign Secretary said they should be.
“Instead, Qatar was asked to (1) curtail free expression, (2) hand over individuals at risk of torture and arbitration, (3) reduce its defence capabilities, (4) go against international law, (5) outsource its foreign policy to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi and (6) literally sign an open cheque to the blockading countries to pay unlimited amounts of money, described as compensation.”
“Reading between the lines, the blockading countries were demanding that we must surrender our sovereignty as the price for ending the siege — something they knew Qatar would never do.”