Cairo- A sharp debate took place on Tuesday among Arab senior diplomats and ministers during the 148th ordinary session of the Arab League (AL) at its headquarters in Cairo over charges against Qatar of supporting terrorism.
During the meeting, the representatives of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain accused Qatar of financing terror groups and interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Cairo Ahmed Qattan and Bahrain’s ambassador to Cairo Sheikh Rashid bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa said that they have proofs of Qatar’s involvement in supporting terrorism in their countries.
For his part, Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi rejected the accusations as baseless and inaccurate, charging the four Arab states that imposed a blockade on Qatar of attempting to infringe on the sovereignty of his country through their blockade.
Muraikhi referred to Iran as an “honorable country” and said ties had warmed with its neighbor since the blockade.
In response, Qattan said: “Congratulations to Iran and soon, God willing, you will regret it.”
Qattan said the four Arab states have taken the sovereign measures against Qatar because of its wrong policies in terms of supporting and financing terrorism and hosting those involved in terrorism on its territory, spreading hatred and interfering in the internal affairs of other states.
“The 13 demands made by these countries and the six principles are in fact meant to highlight the Qatari violations and call on it to abide by previous agreements,” he said.
On Qatar’s rapprochement with Iran, Qattan said “this is a sovereign decision, but the embrace in the arms of the Iranians and others will only lead to ruin and destruction and will have a negative effect on them.”
“Everyone knows the reality of the destructive Iranian role toward the Arab states, especially the Gulf states, with its interference in internal affairs and destabilizing and undermining the security of the GCC states,” he said.
“If the brethren in Qatar think they may have a benefit in their rapprochement with Iran, I’d like to say that they have this evaluation wrong in every way. The Qataris will be held responsible for such a decision.”
He added that “the coming days will prove them wrong because we know that the Qatari people will never accept the Iranians to play a role in Qatar”.
During the speech delivered by the Qatari delegate to the AL, Shoukry interrupted him and described the Qatari speech of being “nonsense and inappropriate words.”
“We all know Qatar’s historic support for terrorism and what has been provided for extremist factions, and money in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Egypt that has led to the death of many of Egypt’s sons,” Shoukry said.
UAE’s Gargash said the Gulf crisis continued “due to Qatar’s unwillingness for peace.”
“Their direction needs to change and we will continue our policies until Qatar changes its policies of aggression against the four boycotting countries and as long as Doha supports and funds terrorism and intervenes in the Middle East countries’ internal affairs,” Gargash said.
Earlier in June, the four countries led by Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and cut off sea, land and air links to the tiny rich Gulf nation, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism, interfering in their internal affairs and seeking closer ties with Iran, a Saudi rival.
Qatar strongly denied the charges and rejected a list of 13 demands put forward by the bloc for resuming diplomatic ties, including the necessity for Qatar to cut off ties with Iran and shut down its Al-Jazeera TV channel.