Ambassador Mutlaq al-Qahtani, the Foreign Minister’s Special Envoy on Counter-terrorism and Mediation for Settling Conflicts said the dispute was driven by Saudi and Emirati hypocrisy.
HE the Ambassador said in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal entitled ‘Qatar Will Not Be Intimidated’,: “If Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the countries driving the confrontation, despite the appearance of a unified bloc hoped to bring Qatar to its knees, they have failed. If they hoped to damage Qatar’s reputation and improve their own, they have failed. If they hoped to enhance their relationship with the US at Qatar’s expense, again, they have failed.
“Instead, the anti-Qatar smear campaign has put a spotlight on the shameful history and unsavory practices of the Saudis and Emiratis themselves. Saudi Arabia justifies the blockade by alleging that Qatari authorities support extremists and terrorist organisations. But the accusation only reminds observers that the Saudis have consistently failed to prevent the radicalisation of their citizens.”
The ambassador highlighted that 15 of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks were Saudis and thousands of Saudi citizens have taken up arms to join Islamic State and other radical groups. “In addition to the fact that Saudi textbooks are used in ISIS schools. Saudi citizens also finance a large number of the 50 groups designated by the US Department of State as terrorist organisations.”
With regard to the UAE, al-Qahtani said that country has taken a similarly hypocritical stance.
“While the UAE falsely portrays itself as America’s best ally in the region, its track record is no better than Saudi Arabia’s. Two Emiratis participated in the September 11 hijackings, and the staff report to the 9/11 Commission revealed that much of the funding for the attacks flowed through the UAE, which was a world hub for money laundering.”
He noted that UAE has also tried to curb a basic right of all, freedom of speech and press just as equally as Saudi Arabia. “In 2014 authorities arrested a man for plotting a terrorist attack on a Formula One racetrack in Abu Dhabi. But the Emirates prohibited international media outlets from reporting on the trial. The UAE’s recent clampdown on free speech has been widely condemned, especially after the country’s Justice Ministry said in June that supporting Qatar on social media could be punishable by fines and even prison time.”
The official emphasized leaked e-mails showed that Emirati officials were cahoots with a variety of interest groups and lobbyists on a campaign to defamation Qatar even before the blockade was imposed. “Now intelligence experts and Qatar‘s cyber security services have identified the UAE as the perpetrator of the hacking of Qatar News Agency, which set the entire Gulf crisis in motion.
“Surely this kind of publicity can’t be what the Saudis and Emiratis hoped for when they instigated this crisis. Yet the longer the blockade goes on, the more damaging information the world will learn about them and the more difficult it will be to resolve their differences with Qatar.
“It’s time to abandon the public-relations campaigns, the blockade, the ultimatums and the pressure tactics and meet at the negotiating table, so we can broker a fair and just resolution to the Gulf crisis,” the ambassador added.