News ID: 254043
Published: 1042 GMT June 10, 2019

Qatar urges de-escalation in US-Iran row

Qatar urges de-escalation in US-Iran row

Qatar and other countries have been talking to both Iran and the United States about de-escalation, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said on Sunday, urging both sides to meet and find a compromise.

“We believe that at one point there should an engagement – it cannot last forever like this,” he told reporters in London on Sunday. “Since they are not willing to engage in further escalation, they should come up with ideas that open the doors.”

Sheikh Mohammed said several countries including Qatar, Oman, Iraq and Japan had been urging de-escalation with the two sides, Reuters reported.

“All these countries are concerned what escalation could lead to,” he said. “There were attempts by Qatar and by other countries in the region to de-escalate the situation: we have been speaking to the US and we have been talking to the Iranians as well.”

“What we are trying to do is really to bridge the gap and create a conversation between the two parties as escalation is not going to benefit anyone in the region,” he said.

Tensions have risen between Iran and the United States in recent weeks after Washington reimposed economic sanctions on Iran after pulling out of a big-power nuclear deal, and sending forces to the Middle East to counter what US officials claimed Iranian threats to US troops and interests.

The Qatari official added that Doha has its "own assessment” different to the US on policy toward Iran.

The comments are expected to alarm members of the Trump administration.

Qatar hosts the biggest US military base in the Middle East but has become increasingly close to Iran.

“There is a big pressure on Iran’s economy, but Iran lived under sanctions for 40 years. It’s never been like this but they survived. We don’t see the repetition of the same way will create a different result,” he said. “They don’t want to have a continuation of the sanctions at the same level and enter negotiations. They believe there was an agreement and US was part of the agreement.”

Qatar’s close ties with Iran, along with its support of the Muslim Brotherhood, was one of the reasons Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Persian Gulf and Arab countries cut ties with Doha two years ago.

The comments from Qatar on a differing approach to Iran come after the US last month deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 long-range bombers to the region, a move that was welcomed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.


Saudis destabilizing region


Qatar’s foreign minister said Saudi Arabia is a force for disruption across the Middle East and Africa and often uses blackmail and economic pressure to enforce its brand of authoritarian rule.

In recent weeks the Saudis and Emiratis have been accused of interfering to stifle popular movements in Sudan, Libya and Somalia.

He acknowledged the dispute was spilling over across the region, citing Libya and Somalia as two countries in which the Saudis have been determined to install regimes sympathetic to Riyadh.

“Qatar has been subject to a lot of efforts mainly led by Saudi and the UAE to demonize us,” Thani said. “Some of the countries, especially in the need for support of the Saudis and the UAE, have even been blackmailed to follow the same policy against Qatar. It creates a lot of instability in the Horn of Africa and the sub-Saharan area. Mainly the focus has been Africa, but there have been attempts elsewhere. Africa has been the focus because many of the countries are in need of help and support.”

With the Saudis and the Emiratis presenting themselves as bulwarks of stability and a force against terrorism, Thani challenged their definitions, saying political stability comes through inclusion. “Any country that is not led by an authoritarian, they see as terrorists,” he said. “A terrorist can include anyone who disagrees with them.”

He said Saudi foreign policy in the past three years had led to “nothing positive” in Lebanon, Libya or Yemen.



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