- Qatar's foreign minister has said the blockade by its neighbors has "definitely" impacted on the fight against ISIS
- He claimed that food and medicine supplies had been hit, as well as flight paths
- However, the anti-ISIS coalition has made huge gains against the group since the crisis began, as some pointed out online
- The minister also emphasized U.S.-Qatar cooperation, denying President Trump's "mixed messages"
by Rosie Alfatlawi
The Gulf diplomatic crisis has undermined global efforts against ISIS, Qatar’s foreign minister has claimed.
Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. severed ties with their neighbor on June 5 and imposed an air, sea and land embargo, alleging Qatari support for terrorism.
Qatar is home to al-Udeid U.S. airbase, the largest in the Middle East, with around 11,000 U.S. and U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition troops based there.
When asked by America’s CNBC if he thought the battle against ISIS had suffered as a result of the conflict, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani replied “definitely yes”.
Al Thani indicated that prior to the dispute, 90 percent of Qatar’s food and medicine supplies came through the land border with Saudi Arabia, with some of that going to the base.
He added that the closure of neighboring airspace had forced Qatari aircraft providing logistical support for the coalition to follow a single flight path: north, to Iran.
Qatari officers participating in coalition activity with the Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet were also expelled, he said.
“So there are a lot of things that undermine the global efforts in countering Daesh,” Al Thani concluded, giving ISIS its Arabic acronym.
His claims were mocked online by some in the boycotting countries. A Saudi surgeon, @MAburemsh, suggested Al Thani’s words revealed his political ignorance.
Another Saudi, @sad922271, wrote: “What he means is that because of the boycott of Qatar, its support to Daesh was reduced”.
This was a sentiment mirrored by many others who pointed out that ISIS had made major losses since the beginning of the crisis. The Islamist group was defeated in Mosul last July and coalition forces are close to victory in its de facto capital Raqqa.
Qatar has repeatedly been accused of funding of terrorist groups by the boycotting states. Ironically, accusations of financing ISIS have also been levied at Saudi Arabia.
A leaked 2014 U.S. State Department memo claimed the “governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia [...] are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to Isis and other radical groups in the region.”
Some Qataris on social media used this to back up their foreign minister’s words.
Saudi and UAE are blockading Qatar to divert the attention of fighting ISIS which they support. Lift off the blockade u win against ISIS.— الريان (@hzamatco1) October 18, 2017
Meanwhile, one Twitter user, @Bander150, claimed the Qatari foreign minister was attempting to woo U.S. support.
Al Thani was certainly keen to emphasize U.S.-Qatari “shared interests” , which he said made “it necessary for the region to be stable” and for the two to be “reliable allies”.
When asked whether he felt the U.S. President and Secretary of State were aligned on their response to the Qatar crisis, he emphasized that he felt there was a “consistent U.S. policy”.
This was, Al Thani said, to “put an end to” the crisis through dialogue.
He dismissed a “tweet or two” as “something not relevant to us”. President Donald Trump responded to the suspension of ties with Qatar in June with the following tweets:
So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
...extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
His words were contradicted by officials from the State and Defense Departments, who emphasized Doha’s value as a military ally and urged dialogue.
- Twitter-happy Trump Forgot Qatar Key US Ally
- 'Solved Fairly Easily': Trump Offers to Mediate Talks to End Qatar Row
More recently, Trump reportedly facilitated a phone conversation between Qatar’s Emir and the Saudi Crown Prince, before talks were abruptly halted by Riyadh.
In his CNBC interview, Al Thani also accused Saudi Arabia of attempting to enforce regime change in Doha.
"We see (Saudi) government officials talking about regime change. We see officials inciting the people to go and protest their government, so it is about regime change," he said.
Saudi and its allies have previously denied attempting to impose a change of government on the tiny Gulf state.
© 2000 - 2021 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)