Former Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani (L) and former Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheik Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani (R) at the opening of the Doha Forum (AFP)
CAIRO – 31 October 2017: Statements made by Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani and former Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani during an interview on the state television on Thursday sparked rage among Arab politicians and writers.
Bin Jassem admitted to supporting the Nusra Front in Syria, which is a branch of al-Qaeda, and other groups in Libya that he identified as opposition rather than terrorist groups. He criticized the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) claiming that it does not tackle Gulf internal sensitive issues such as the dispute between Qatar and Bahrain over the Hawar Islands.
The Hawar Islands are an archipelago of desert islands owned by Bahrain, situated off the west coast of Qatar in the Gulf of Bahrain off the Persian Gulf.
The former Qatari Prime Minister also commented on the leaked phone call between him and former Libyan President Muamar al-Gaddafi which is presumed to have taken place in 2008. Both were speculating in the call leaked in 2014 that terror groups would take over the rule in 12 years and that the current ruling regime would collapse.
Seoud al-Qahtany, a consultant at the Royal Saudi Court and the chairman of Media Studies and Affairs Center, said on Sunday that bin Jassem seemed confused and failed to explain the leaked phone call with late Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi as they discussed a conspiracy on Saudi Arabia. “I wish that he said it was a fake recording but he could not,” he added.
Qahtany alleged that bin Jassem’s excuses are nothing but lies, describing his words as begging after all mediations have failed. The former Qatari prime minister stated that the phone call was real and that Sheikh Hamad instructed him to apologize to late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz.
Bin Jassem Al Thani said that he had started to regret establishing Al-Jazeera channel after three years of the launching, as it proved problematic for Qatar.
Bahraini writer Mehemeid al-Mehemeid described Bin Jassem as a war criminal, saying that he is still part of the decision-making sphere in Qatar supporting terrorism and destruction in Arab and Gulf countries, and that he should be prosecuted for his acts.
Meanwhile, Lebanese writer Khair Allah Khair Allah criticized bin Jassem’s attempts to create conflicts between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, underestimating the deep ties both share. However, Khair Allah thinks that his role within the Qatari state has shrunk.
Former Egyptian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mohamed El Ashmawy said that that lies and claims by the Qatari state have unraveled in the leaked phone calls between bin Jassem and Iran-backed Bahraini opposition leaders.
Ashmawy addressed the Qatari regime, stressing that further lies would not resolve the crisis but would incur more isolation advising them to take clear stances adhering to transparency which was also emphasized by Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman.
Ambassador Gamal Bayoumi, an expert in Middle East affairs, said that bin Jassem ignored many facts that were backed by evidence and documents raised by the Quartet justifying the boycott decision.
Among these are the terrorists wanted by boycotting countries, and who are harbored in Doha by the Qatari state, Bayoumi proceeded; denouncing all Qatari excuses for supporting terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, and compromising the security and stability of the whole region.
Bayoumi also refuted the Qatari description of the boycott as a “blockade,” since no military actions or siege have been taken by any countries against Qatar.
The Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said during his interview with CBS News on Saturday that no country in the Quartet responded to the mediation attempts made by U.S. President Donald Trump for reconciliation.
The emir warned that his country may fall into chaos if the Quartet takes military action against the princedom, although none of these countries attempted or even threatened to take such a step. He also emphasized the Qatari state’s tight relations with Iran.
On June 5, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen decided to cut all diplomatic ties with Qatar, hurling allegations that the state supports terrorism. Ports and airspaces were cut off to Qatari vessels.
The countries listed 13 demands to be met by Qatar, including severing ties with terrorist groups, closing down the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera satellite channel, downgrading ties with arch-rival Iran and closing a Turkish air base in Qatar.
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