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Monday, June 8, 2020

To The New Arab: Kuwaiti efforts to resolve the Gulf crisis continue



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The Qatari Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lolwa Al-Khater, affirmed the continuation of Kuwaiti efforts to resolve the Gulf crisis, reiterating Qatar's position, which is always welcome to heal the rift, as long as this is within the framework of mutual respect between countries and within the framework of international legitimacy.

In response to questions from The New Arab, via e-mail due to the precautionary measures taken to confront Corona, Al-Khater said, "The siege countries that have caused the crisis are continuing to create more other crises, perhaps because they believe that what they created of instability was not faced strictly by the international community”.

At a time when Al-Khater did not disclose the content of what was carried by the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Ahmed bin Nasser Al-Muhammad Al-Sabah during his recent visit to Qatar, within the framework of Kuwaiti mediation to resolve the Gulf crisis, Al-Khater reiterated the State of Qatar’s adherence to the conditional dialogue on certain foundations and pillars to solve the Gulf crisis, the most important of which is mutual respect that Preserves the sovereignty of states and ensures that independence of decisions is not infringed.

Al-Khater also denied again the desire of the State of Qatar to withdraw from the Gulf Cooperation Council and said that "talking about any withdrawal of the State of Qatar from the Gulf Cooperation Council is just rumors circulated recently by people, perhaps because there is a state of restlessness on the popular level of the feasibility and effectiveness of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s organs with regard to the continuation of the Gulf crisis which entering its fourth year”.

The following is the text of the interview of The New Arab with the Qatari official:

The Gulf crisis is entering its fourth year ... has it become an unavoidable reality?

- Since the beginning of the crisis, the State of Qatar indicated that the siege countries are trying to normalize this crisis, making the current situation and its consequences from separating joint families, obstructing and preventing Hajj and Umrah from the Qataris, and other unlawful practices, as a normal and natural matter, but the same countries that caused the crisis continue to create more other crises, perhaps because they believe that the instability they created was not faced strictly by the international community. Despite the fact that the crisis is a reality we live in, the State of Qatar has exceeded its consequences on several levels, and what remains of concern to us is the rupture of the social fabric of the Gulf society and the repercussions of the crisis on the collective security of the region.

It is known that a dialogue was held between Qatar and Saudi Arabia to resolve the crisis, which ended suddenly at the beginning of this year from the Saudi side. What is the point at which the dialogue stopped? Are there results achieved?

- As you know, the State of Qatar has always called for dialogue to resolve this crisis, as dialogue is an integral part of the State of Qatar’s diplomacy and its approach. It is the country that managed to achieve an agreement to bring peace to Afghanistan, which we hope will be a beginning on the right path for the brotherly Afghan people. Is it possible that we work to solve the problems of other countries through diplomatic channels, and then we do not make this our approach to preserving the unity of the Gulf Cooperation Council? However, it must also be said that this dialogue is conditional on certain foundations and pillars, the most important of which is the mutual respect that preserves the sovereignty of states and ensures that there is no infringement on the independence of decisions. It is worth mentioning that stopping the dialogue was not from our side. Today, there are appreciated efforts lead by the sisterly State of Kuwait, our response, as before, was positive in the direction of returning to the path of dialogue, in accordance with a set of principles that the State of Qatar has affirmed on more than one occasion.


Kuwaiti Efforts:

There has been circulation of information recently about the desire of the siege countries to reach a solution to the Gulf crisis, has any contact been made with Doha on this matter?

- Yes, there was a visit by the Kuwait Minister of Foreign Affairs to the State of Qatar in Ramadan, during which he conveyed the continuous efforts of the Emir of the brotherly state of Kuwait to resolve the crisis, and an exchange of views took place between officials in this context. We affirmed our always-welcome position to heal the rift as long as this was within the framework of mutual respect between States, and within the framework of international legitimacy.


The Kuwait Foreign Minister visited Doha this May. Does this visit signal the resumption of Kuwaiti mediation efforts to solve the Gulf crisis?

- The brotherly state of Kuwait has spared no effort since the first day of the Gulf crisis in an attempt to resolve this crisis and bring views closer. We communicate with the brotherly state of Kuwait in this regard; cooperation and coordination are ongoing and have never been interrupted. In this context, we affirm that the State of Qatar responded every time there was an initiative or invitation from His Highness the Emir of the State of Kuwait, at all levels, even at the grassroots level, as we will not forget the call of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad from the National Assembly to a commitment to the ethical approach in speech. Therefore, the response of the State of Qatar was immediate through a number of official statements that emphasized this approach.


What is new that the Kuwait minister carried regarding ending the Gulf crisis? What is the nature of the Qatari response to it?

- The unremitting Kuwaiti efforts from the beginning were always looking for common spaces and this is not specifically related to this visit. On the one hand, the State of Qatar, our assertion has always been linked to the higher interest of the region as a whole, and to the security of its people. We have repeatedly stressed during the past three years that all of these differences have channels through which they can be resolved, and build on common areas without violating international and regional laws and customs, and the privacy and sovereignty of each country. The State of Qatar remains welcome in the efforts of dialogue within these frameworks.


Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC):

Is one of the options for Qatar to withdraw from the Gulf Cooperation Council, in order to close the file of the Gulf crisis? Did Qatar really waved this option?

- Talking about any withdrawal of the State of Qatar from the Gulf Cooperation Council is just rumors circulated recently by people, perhaps because there is a state of restlessness at the popular level regarding the feasibility and effectiveness of the organs of the Gulf Cooperation Council regarding the continuation of the Gulf crisis and its entry into the fourth year. There is no doubt that activating the role of the Gulf Cooperation Council is a necessity that is not only Gulf but regional, this activation requires looking at the challenges facing the Council

Seriously, honestly and aware of the critical historical stage the region is going through, it’s good to note the technical cooperation that is currently present in the crisis of Covid-19 between the ministries of health in the GCC countries. Such circumstances may be a reminder to everyone that cooperation is more beneficial than nihilistic discord. In this context, we commend the statement of the Secretary of the Gulf Cooperation Council that the Council faces unprecedented challenges that require collective thinking and joint action.

Has there a solution to the crisis in the social aspect and the family relations extended between the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council?

- This crisis has torn apart the ties of extended Gulf families, making it difficult and even nearly impossible for family members to communicate with each other as before. Traditionally, Qataris travel on holidays to greet their families and vice versa, this became almost impossible with the current situation. In addition, the inflammatory media discourse greatly violated this social structure, so we fear that the new generation, which has not experienced moments of cooperation between the GCC states, will forget what the historical, religious and social unity among the people of the region means. Here, we affirm that we are continuing the approach and directions of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, which has always emphasized authentic Islamic and Arab values ​​and principles, and not to focus on the issues of the homeland, but rather support all just Arab, Islamic and humanitarian issues.


Are there Qatari detainees in detention, in light of the crisis in any of the siege countries?

- There are many reports of the National Human Rights Committee in the State of Qatar showing various violations, the most recent of which was the report issued recently on the third anniversary of the siege. We also recall the report of the technical committee of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in which it monitored all violations, and confirmed that the nature of the measures taken was not limited to the government in the State of Qatar, but rather systematically affected its citizens.


Legal cases are continuing:

What about the issues that the State of Qatar has submitted against the siege countries and the demands regarding compensation resulting from the siege damages ... Is there anything new in this regard?

There are a number of cases pending in several international bodies, some of which represent the State of Qatar and some of them represent the private parties affected in the State of Qatar, including for example the crime of piracy of BN Sports channels, not mentioning the thousands of those affected economically as a result of preventing them from accessing their property and rights in the countries Concerned. According to the Qatar National Human Rights Committee, there are about 10 thousand cases related to compensation and more than 4000 cases that were brought before international jurisdiction. In this context, we recall that the International Court of Justice approved in July 2018 the requests of the State of Qatar to implement a number of interim measures, such as the right to litigate and the inclusion of joint families and to allow students to enter the UAE until the decision of the case brought by the State of Qatar. This is an implicit acknowledgment of the occurrence of violations against Qatari citizens, especially since the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented many violations in its report on the Gulf crisis. State of Qatar continues to follow the legal path before international organizations and bodies to restore the rights of Qatari Citizens, those affected by the procedures of the siege countries, believing in international law, conventions and international treaties to which the State of Qatar is bound by them.


The trick of the weak:

How would you describe the ongoing social bot attacks on Qatar on social media, which almost never stop, and what messages do the siege countries want to deliver?

- Most people have taken good notice that this cyberspace will constitute an alternative space for people of opinion and thought, and other peoples, away from the influence of governments, transcontinental companies, and capital that only reflects material values ​​and does not necessarily reflect today's human challenges. This matter has taken a new direction not only in the Gulf crisis, although it is one of its heights, but in many other regions in the world.

We began to see the manipulation of public opinion through electronic armies and the transmission of falsehood as a fact, and the artificial and poisoned values ​​as an organic and natural product of society while millions of dollars are paid behind it for some companies that specialized in directing public opinion and not reflecting the facts as they are.

It is striking that what happened during the crisis from the exploitation of electronic armies and from the cyber intrusions behind the countries of the crisis was found in the front pages of the global media, as it interfered with a number of political files in those countries. The reader also does not miss that "Facebook and Twitter" both announced the closure of thousands of accounts belonging to these countries. Despite all these attempts to overturn the facts, but it does not go beyond being a distraction to the people from what is more important or covering other problems. On the other hand, these cyber attacks are a trick for the weak when they cannot use logic or etiquette of dialogue.


Are there indications that the current year will witness the fold of the Gulf crisis, or is it still too early to say?

- The endeavors remain, and if there is a new thing in the matter, it will be announced in time.


Corona crisis:

We have not seen any cooperation between the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council in the Corona virus crisis, except for a meeting of health ministers in the Gulf states that prevented the Qatari Minister of Health from attending it, and remote meetings that citizens in the Arab Gulf countries did not touch their results, do you think that the role of the Gulf Cooperation Council has ended?

- Although the technical cooperation that existed in the Corona crisis could have reached more effective horizons, we do not want to reduce these existing efforts especially that some technical committees continue to coordinate at different levels, for example meetings and coordination between ministries of labor. The State of Qatar will never be a reason to block any of these efforts or attempts to politicize it, and this is what we hope to see from others.


Qatar assistance:

Qatar provides assistance to many countries to cope with the outbreak of the Corona virus, this assistance has been appreciated by these countries. How large was this aid and how many countries were sent to it, and what messages did Qatar want through the provision of this aid?

- In implementation of the directives of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of the country - may God protect him - and the belief of the State of Qatar in the global responsibility and obligations, the State of Qatar was quick to provide urgent medical assistance that countries and medical teams need, in order to contain and control the pandemic outbreak. Qatar Fund for Development provided this urgent medical assistance to 21 brotherly and friendly countries, the volume of this support amounted to about 200 tons transported by Qatar Airways, which in turn transported more than 1.8 million persons stuck due to the closure of most of the world's airports to their home countries. Qatar Airways also provided 100,000 free tickets to health workers around the world, and provided an estimated 30% discount for shipping medical and humanitarian materials to everyone who wants to transport such materials. State of Qatar has donated two field hospitals to Italy. There is also ongoing cooperation with NATO to transport medical and humanitarian supplies to a number of countries in need, the United Kingdom is also involved with NATO in this process. One of the paradoxes in this context is that the State of Qatar is making all these efforts and its national carrier fly through the world to relief different countries at a time when the siege countries have tried to isolate it and impose restrictions on its airspace.

These restrictions have already prolonged these trips and increased the costs. Would it not have been more beneficial for the crisis countries to cooperate with us to support these efforts instead of restricting them? The State of Qatar does not live in isolation from the rest of the world, we believe that the responsibility lies with all of us, especially in times of crisis. Therefore, it is important to make all possible efforts to reduce the consequences of crises and its negative impact on countries and peoples.


How do you see the international relations after the Corona pandemic crisis, do we need in the Arab countries and the Gulf Cooperation Council a new approach in this regard?

- The whole world after the Corona virus is not the same as before it, and this includes the Gulf Cooperation Council, but it is still too early to say for sure what these changes are. In general, the State of Qatar has repeatedly called for the need to reconsider the system of joint Arab action and the importance of a political contract and a new security perception that lays down a set of constants and lays definitions of important questions, foremost of which is the concept of danger and what are the threats that continue to pervert in the structure of the Arab state collective level.

As for the level of international relations, this pandemic revealed the structural problems of the international system and multilateral organizations, which were always emphasized by His Highness the Emir of the State of Qatar in his recent speeches to the United Nations General Assembly, and despite the skepticism of many in the effectiveness of multilateral action, the current crisis has demonstrated that the nature of our modern and interconnected world in its systems necessitates the existence of this joint collective action, as one part of the world cannot survive this pandemic without the other part. The question remains: How can we turn this ordeal into a grant that will cause us to restructure this global system in the interest of man?



Doha - Anwar Al-Khatib

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