HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani affirmed that all countries which are party to the dispute must have the desire to solve the Gulf crisis.
Speaking at a session entitled “A View from the Middle East” which was held within the framework of the 2020 ‘Virtual’ Global Security Forum, HE the Foreign Minister said that “we have the desire to find a solution for a stable GCC region which is needed in turbulent times. Whether it is under US President Donald Trump or President-elect Joe Biden, mainly the basis for any solution will be good intentions of the blockading countries and the State of Qatar as well.”
He added: “We have good intentions for a constructive engagement with the blockading countries to reach a fair resolution. We believe there is no winner out of this crisis. The only consequence of this crisis is more instability in our region. If we are keen on our future and the future of our people, I think we need to find a just solution to this crisis.”
HE Sheikh Mohamed said: “Qatar didn’t conduct any hostile activity against the blockading countries. We are ready, if the blockading countries have the same willingness to work with good intentions and on the basis of correct information, to resolve the crisis and reach a just solution which is in the interest of our people.
“We appreciate the work by the late Amir of Kuwait HH Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, and efforts now being carried out by HH the Amir of the State of Kuwait Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah. We have also seen very strong and significant momentum by President Trump and his administration in order to reach a resolution of the crisis. Qatar has been very open since the beginning for a dialogue which is based on mutual respect, non-interference in each other’s affairs and respecting the sovereignty of each country.”
On the US elections, HE Sheikh Mohamed clarified that the election result mainly concerns the Americans, “but we congratulate the new leadership, whether it is the administration of President-elect Biden or President Trump.”
He pointed out that Qatar has strategic partnership with the US and the ties are developed on strong foundations. Qatar-US ties cover many fields like defence, security, economy, business, education, energy and other sectors.
With regards to the results of the US elections he said that the US policy would not affect Gulf region, rather, it will affect the whole globe. “We hope to work with the upcoming US administration to promote peace and stability in our region which is in dire need now amid all these tensions surrounding us in the Middle East. We will continue building on our strategic partnership which we have been building over the years.
“Our relations with the US will not be affected because we have built strong relations with all institutions of the United States. Therefore, our relations are real and include various ministries, departments and institutions in both countries.”
He said that the region needs more diplomatic and peaceful efforts to resolve disputes, indicating that if there are disputes between the Co-operation Council and Iran for decades, then those disputes need to be resolved by diplomatic means.
He added that the region does not need a new arms race, because more arms mean more instability. “We do not say that countries should not build a deterrent force, because countries need that, and Qatar does. We must invest more in diplomacy and diplomatic solutions with Iran and engage more constructively with them.”
HE the Foreign Minister pointed out that during the past year and a half, there were many efforts to bring the parties together to deal with Iran. He referred to the Iranian HOPE Initiative and to the European Maritime Security Initiative to guarantee maritime security in the Gulf. “I think we need to come up with a more solid vision for the future of our regional security.”
Regarding the two agreements that the UAE and Bahrain signed separately with Israel to normalise relations, HE Sheikh Mohamed said that Qatar’s position is to discuss the roots of the issue in a way that guarantees the right of the Palestinians to establish an independent state.
He added that it is better to have a united front that takes into account the interest of the Palestinians and the two-state solution based on the borders of 1967 with East Al Quds as its capital.
He stressed that this was the solution, and Qatar’s position on the matter, saying that Qatar continues to call for negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians to put an end to the conflict, because the Palestinian people are the ones who are paying the biggest price for it.
HE the Foreign Minister stressed the need for an agreement between the countries of the GCC and Iran on a peaceful solution side by side, addressing all issues in a civilised manner through dialogue and addressing these differences and agreements related to the relationship between us.
“We want to reach a solution to this conflict and we want to encourage the Gulf Co-operation Council countries to participate positively and constructively. We need and want to encourage Iran to also engage in a positive and constructive manner, but this does not mean that we are going to solve the problem and solve everything at the present time.
“We have a disagreement with Iran and some of its policies, but this does not mean that we are in conflict with each other. Let us talk about common things and interests and try to address this dispute through discussion, constructive participation and constructive dialogue in order to resolve this dispute.”
On the United States withdrawing almost completely from Afghanistan, he said: “We do not believe in military solution. We believe in diplomacy in resolving all conflicts. There is war in Afghanistan for two decades and time has come to reach a diplomatic solution.”
HE Sheikh Mohamed added that Qatar will follow any path that leads to peace in Afghanistan and anywhere else in the world as the state is willing to do everything to bring peace and help in that regard.
He added that this was provided to both the Afghans and the Americans, whether with the Americans and the Taliban or with the Taliban and the Afghan government, as Qatar provided them with the platform for these talks.
“We believe that the steps taken thus far between America and the Taliban have been good steps forward. The first step for peace in Afghanistan is between them, but more important than that is peace between the Afghans themselves – between the government and the Taliban – which is still going on. However, we do not see significant progress in this regard, but we will continue to push in this direction as we will focus on finding a solution among Afghans at the present time, which is our priority, the US is working closely with Doha to find a solution in Afghanistan. We hope to see progress before the end of the year,” he added.
On Qatar’s role in Syria, HE Sheikh Mohamed said that at present Qatar is committed to its position, which is that justice is required where war crimes have been committed against the Syrian people and there are displaced persons and refugees everywhere in the world, stressing the need to address the problem politically.
“We continue our efforts, our humanitarian aids and we continue to provide shelter, schools and healthcare to the Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons inside Syria. We hope to see greater momentum from the international community to help the Syrian people and reach a political solution there.”
He noted that the international momentum around Syria has been lost a few years ago, as the main problem in Syria is that there are many red lines that have been drawn recently and all of them have been crossed without accountability.
“We always urge the international community to engage in some way in order to find justice for the Syrian people and not to forget accountability because the blood that was shed in the war was abundant and it is the right of the Syrian people to bring to justice those who committed war crimes,” he said.
On the arms race in the region, HE the Deputy Prime Minister said that “this is a clear indication of instability in the region and this is what we want to end by bringing more hope to diplomacy and presenting more options for the future. This explains why we adopt a regional security framework that guarantees everyone to live safe in a state for our future and for the future of our people.”
“If there is a strong regional security framework operates, relations with all countries such as Russia, the United States and China will be constructive and friendly relations. We do not want the excesses in our region because we do not believe that the exaggerations in will benefit any country in the region,” he added.
HE Sheikh Mohamed said that Qatar wants to maintain its strong strategic relationship with the United States, and its strategic and commerce relations with China, with the same going for Russia.
On the energy issue, he said that Qatar supplies nearly 30% the world’s LNG needs. All countries that depend on the energy economy need to build plans for a future a world not reliant on hydrocarbon energy sources.
He said that Qatar launched a national strategy for 2030 that aimed to diversify the economy away from hydrocarbon, in addition to implementing plans to diversify the economy since 2008.The country has achieved 80% of the objectives so far, with 50% of GDP coming from non-hydrocarbon sectors.
HE Sheikh Mohamed said that the State will continue to build its model for the future, noting that a core part of the strategy was expanding investments in a way that benefits Qatar and the countries that receive those investments.