On Wednesday evening, appearing on a television programme ironically called Truth on a Doha channel, Qatar’s foreign minister managed to mislead, misinform and misspeak in a display of verbal dexterity that defied and defiled truthfulness. Shaikh Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, who’s also the Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar, accused Saudi Arabia and the UAE of trying to gain international sympathy through their levelling of charges against Doha that it aids and abets those who spread terror across the region. Since June, the anti-terror quartet of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have shut their respective air and maritime spaces to aircraft and vessels registered in Qatar, and have applied other diplomatic and fiscal measures on Doha to highlight its failure to live up to its commitment and international accords to fight terrorism. The quartet has also issued a list of 13 non-negotiable and non-divisible demands on Qatar that must be met to resolve this standoff.
Qatar’s foreign minister has now made it clear that his government refuses to recognise the errors of its ways and does not view the quartet’s demands as legitimate. That is indeed a mistake. And it is a mistake too to revert to blatant mistruths and misstatements to try and justify Qatar’s actions and inactions. The language used by Al Thani was wrong too, accusing the quartet of engaging in “economic warfare”. That’s a volatile and vicious phrase, fully lacking veracity. The quartet has simply closed its air and sea spaces, a legitimate exercise of sovereign rights.
What Al Thani has managed to do — and we must only assume he did so with deliberate forethought and intent — is to undermine efforts by the Emir of Kuwait to end this impasse. Indeed, His Highness Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah of Kuwait spoke only days ago of hope for reconciliation within the framework that covered the quartet’s demands, and restoration of harmony.
The leadership of Qatar should be under no illusion. The anti-terror quartet is united in making sure Doha’s support to organisations such as the Muslim Brotherhood and its malicious work in Egypt ends once and for all; that it no longer gives the platform of Al Jazeera to Al Houthis who are defying United Nations Security Council resolutions in Yemen; and that it desists from aiding and abetting terrorist and seditious groups, charities, causes and individuals. Most of all, it’s time the leadership in Qatar spoke the truth to its people and acted honourably, rather than maligning, impugning and impeding its Arab brothers.