Khalid Al-Hail - photo courtesy of Hail Facebook page
CAIRO – 06 June 2017: The recent cutting of diplomatic ties with Qatar by many of its Gulf neighbors and Egypt have left many wondering what comes next for the troubled nation. According to the head of the Qatari opposition in exile, Khalid Al-Hail, It is the regime’s stubbornness that has led to most recent set of disasters plaguing the nation, and the regime’s loss of legitimacy. Al-Hail sat with Egypt Today to discuss what is happening in Qatar, and what the future may hold for Emir Tamim bin Hammad Al-Thani and his regime.
From your perspective, how do you see the recent decision made by the Arab countries to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar?
This decision is disastrous on all levels and will have a direct effect on Qatari citizens. Qatar is a non-producing country and is completely dependent on imports. With the dangerous decision by Gulf and Arab countries to cut ties with Qatar what solutions do Qataris have to counteract the regime’s impetuousness, especially when you consider that our ties to Gulf countries; historically, geographically and economically, are closer than to Iran?
Do you see no connection between the Qatari people, Tamim’s actions and his regime?
I think that even if the people of Qatar are helpless, now is not the time for regrets nor for endorsing the actions of the government. Now is the time for action and for the Qatari citizens to exert pressure on the governments that it resolves its issues quickly as the situation has reached unacceptable limits.
What can you say about the circulating rumors of a new coup in Qatar?
Everything will become clear after the June 12. This date is of huge importance and will mark a massive and unexpected event and of which more cannot be disclosed until that date.
Have you got valid information about that date?
It is not a matter of mere information. As a body of opposition we have our plans, but we will only decide what our next step is going to be after June 12.
How do you view the recent leaks regarding Tamim’s statements?
The problem is not about denying such infiltration, for it is of no interest to us saying whether they really happened or not. The real problem is that denying cannot be accomplished simply by making statements, but by validating those statements with proper action, especially when it comes to the Iranian matter which we have to adequately deny in words as well as in action, which is, by the way, exactly how the Gulf countries see the matter.
How do you view the role played by Al-Jazeera channel and its constant stream of news and stories against Arab countries?
It has been 21 years since the channel was established, and since its early days it has never been of any use except for creating divisions and begetting problems upon the Qatari people and the Arab countries and I’m really questioning whether this channel has any contributions whatsoever. It hosts opposition figures against Gulf countries and Egypt unless they oppose the Muslim Brotherhood and propagates the Qatari state’s political objectives. Qatar adopted the Muslim Brotherhood ideology, it adopted a policy of contrarianism and a policy of befriending all, which unfortunately eventually turns into becoming the enemy of all. How can it be possible, for instance, to have an American base and at the same time a Taliban embassy?!
How do you see the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremist groups in Qatar and the latter’s insistence on not turning them in despite the demands of authorities such as Interpol?
The Muslim Brotherhood members who are now in Qatar are not political refugees, nor does Qatar adhere to international covenants on the matter. For example, Qatar completely blasted the constitution by turning Mohamed al-Uttaiby in to the Saudi authorities two weeks ago in an attempt to appease Saudi Arabia; however, the attempt failed because Qatar does not adhere to human rights conventions and because of its present policies of sheltering such internationally wanted individuals and groups.
Moreover, Qatar may maneuver by promising to send away those people, but it could send them away to Turkey like it did with Wagdi Ghoneim and which serves no purpose at all and which is completely unacceptable. The Gulf countries do not want such maneuvers and demand that Qatar become more serious.
Qatar has made some seemingly careless moves in Africa, such as visiting Sudan and Ethiopia. How do you explain this?
Qatar adopts a policy of contrarianism and tries to form lobbies within antagonistic countries. For example, the recent campaign about the Pyramids in Sudan was not designed to aid Sudan as much as it was designed to spite Egypt, and this is completely unacceptable.
What are the Qatari opposition’s plans for the next phase?
The Qatari opposition will have an important role in the next phase through the intellectual education of the Qatari citizen so they can take a firm stance against the regime, and through real action for the political and diplomatic benefit of Qatar even if it means taking the current regime to foreign courts.
Is there a possibility that the Qatari opposition communicates with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab countries to alleviate the effects of the decision on Qatari citizens?
We are indeed trying to reach those countries, but the more important issue now is that the Qatari regime has lost its Arab legitimacy since all Arab countries have cut relations with it and since there is currently no diplomatic representation for it in these countries.
And I would like to point out that the present problem is in effect a huge economical blockade, and this is quite an unusual escalation in the history of Qatar’s foreign affairs. Therefore, what is important now is choosing an approved replacement that can interact with all the Arab countries during the coming phase.
Are you saying that there will be a temporary replacement of the Qatari government to handle communications with other countries?
This is exactly what I am saying. The current Qatari state has lost its legitimacy and there has to be a third party who is approved by the other countries.