UAE in favor of restoring dictatorships in Middle East, Qatar's envoy says

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
Published 20.08.2017 14:12

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) supports counter-revolutions in the Arab world for restoring dictatorships, Qatar's envoy to Turkey said Sunday.

In a statement issued on Saturday evening, Ambassador Salem Al-Shafi said: "The UAE and a number of allies have paid around $40 billion to consolidate the military coup in Egypt alone," in reference to the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president, in 2013.

"We say that these countries have not learnt the lesson well," he added. "Blaming Qatar, using bright terms such as counter terrorism and attacking the moderates with a view to winning the West will not help protect them from the people."

Al-Shafi denied accusations against Qatar of backing terrorists in the Middle East.

"There are some Arab countries which are afraid of revolutions," he said. "Instead of reforming their regimes and fulfilling the people's aspirations, they heap the blame on Qatar and the so-called political Islam."

The ambassador stressed that Qatar was "doing all it can to serve security and stability in the region in a way that does not clash with aspirations of the people."

Al-Shafi said the UAE's role "in triggering the crisis with Qatar has become visible for all."

"Our technical and legal investigations, in cooperation with the FBI and NCA [Britain's National Crime Agency] have categorically proved this," he said, in an implicit reference to the hacking of Qatar's official news agency.

Last month, the Washington Post said the UAE had orchestrated the hacking of Qatar's state-run news and social media sites "to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani."

The hacked reports said Qatar's emir called Iran an "Islamic power," and heaped praise on Palestinian resistance group Hamas, among other controversial claims.

The Qatari envoy said the UAE and other blockade states "have rejected any foreign mediation to solve the crisis."

UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash had earlier in August called on Turkey to "remain neutral" in the crisis with Qatar.

Since the Gulf crisis began, Turkey, a longtime ally of Qatar, has rushed to Doha's aid, dispatching vast amounts of humanitarian assistance -- in addition to troops -- to the beleaguered Gulf state.

"The international community and most world countries have rejected UAE allegations and illegal measures against Qatar," Al-Shafi said.

He said Doha had restrained from taking "vengeful" measures in response to the blockade.

"We hope that they [the blockade states] will return to reason," he said. "We believe that they will ultimately return to dialogue."

The Qatari ambassador reiterated his country's commitment to fighting terrorism.

"Qatar is an active member in all counterterrorism forums and in the international anti-Daesh coalition," he said. "Qatar also hosts the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East for fighting terrorism," he said, in reference to al-Udeid base.

The diplomat went on to ridicule calls for closing the Turkish base in Qatar.

"It is strange to see the UAE, which hosts several foreign bases, to call for closing the Turkish base in Doha and for cutting defense ties between Qatar and Turkey, unless the UAE and allied states have hostile intentions or plans for a military intervention," he said.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and severed air, land and sea links with it on June 5 after accusing it of backing extremist groups. Qatar strongly denies the charge and argues the isolation effort is politically motivated.

Throughout the nearly two-month crisis, which began on June 5, Turkey has been calling on the parties to solve the issue through diplomacy and that both the economic and political sanctions would not serve the interests of involved states.

The bloc later issued a tough 13-point list of demands needed to resolve the crisis, including shutting down news outlets including Al-Jazeera, limiting ties with Iran and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country.

Qatar refused to bow to the demands within a 10-day deadline, and the anti-Qatar bloc has begun to shift its focus toward six principles on combating extremism and terrorism.

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