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Sheikh Saif Reaffirms That Qatar Does Not Support Terrorism

Photo: The Peninsula

H E Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al Thani, the Director of the Government Communications Office, said that Qatar does not fund terrorism whatsoever – no groups, no individuals.

“Qatar does not fund terrorism whatsoever — no groups, no individuals. Not from a far or from a close distance,” Sheikh Saif said in an interview.

When asked why do these (siege) countries want to pick a fight with Qatar and why now?, he said: “I can answer what we think it is. We have differences in opinion. That is the main issue. Differences of opinion. We do not support parties or individuals or get involved in the domestic affairs (of other countries).”

When asked what is it going to take to resolve the crisis?, Sheikh Saif answered that siege countries first need to remove the blockade because this is not a way for bullying a country into taking a certain position.

“Secondly we’re willing to sit and negotiate and sit in a dialogue environment and discuss all these things. Of course anything that will affect our sovereignty and independence, we will not consider, even slightly. At the end of the day most of these things are differences of opinion and we can discuss them.”

In regard to allegations being made by the Saudi-led bloc, he said: “When we get involved in Tunisia, or Syria … or Libya, we do not go around and pick a party or [an] individual … We usually focus our attention on the public and try our best not to pick sides”.

“They accuse us of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. For example in Tunisia, after the Arab Spring, the government that came into office was from the Muslim Brotherhood. We worked with them once they became the government. We didn’t work with them as a party. We worked with them as a government, to support them.”

“After that, the opposition party won … [And] we are the ones working with them. We did a conference last year in support of Tunisia, supporting investment. We established a fund for small and medium businesses.”

He also said that the Qatari support is for the Palestinians and not for the Hamas and all funding to Palestine is done through the United Nations.

“It is funding for building the infrastructure. We have a commitment of about $1.2bn for rebuilding Gaza. In a few cases we have given salaries to the government in Gaza. The few times that happened, it happened through the UN and through our governmental structure,” he added.

In regard to Qatar’s relation with the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Saif stressed that Qatar has no “relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood”.

“Accusations of having ties with Muslim Brotherhood came because of the situation in Egypt. We had cash placed in their central bank. We committed to five shipments of gas free of charge, and other things. These commitments started before [President Mohamed] Morsi came into power and they continued after he left.”

“We deal with what the Egyptians choose and coup isn’t the people’s choice but without involving in their internal affairs,” Shiekh Saif stressed adding that “what’s happening in Egypt is a domestic matter”.

Speaking about the allegations that Qatar paid billions of dollars to Iran and Al Qaeda-linked affiliates to secure the release of Qatari hostages, Sheikh Saif said: “We approached any government that could help influence these groups (kidnappers) to get the Qatari hostage out and everything we did was with knowledge, and in partnership with, the Iraqi government, Iraqi intelligence and security”.

On Qatar’s relations with the US, he said: “It is very strategic and strong relationship. It has always been strong and institutional.”

He added that the US-Riyadh summit [in Saudi Arabia last May] was indeed successful. “It had all the Muslim Arab countries there. We are the only country that has taken further steps with the counter-terrorism [agreement] we signed. It’s the first of its kind for the region.”

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