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Saudi-led siege can’t bring Qatar to its knees: Senior official

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa (L), Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (2nd-L), UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (2nd-R), and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (R) meet in Cairo on July 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

An adviser to Qatar’s foreign minister says the Saudi-led quartet of boycotters has failed to bring his country to its knees, adding that Riyadh’s anti-Doha “smear campaign’ is only reminiscent of the kingdom’s own ideological support for the Daesh Takfiri terror group.

Mutlaq Majed al-Qahtani, the Qatari foreign minister’s special envoy for counterterrorism and mediation, made the comments in an opinion piece titled “Qatar Will Not Be Intimidated,” which was recently published in The Wall Street Journal.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism and destabilizing the region.  The Saudi-led bloc has also imposed sanctions against the country, including restrictions on Qatari aircraft using their airspace.

Doha rejects the claims, saying the boycotters are attacking its sovereignty.

The opinion piece mainly pointed fingers at Saudi Arabia and the UAE, blaming the two for “hypocrisy.”

“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,” he wrote.

“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 organizations. But the accusation only reminds observers that the Saudis have consistently failed to prevent the radicalization of their citizens,” it stated.

Qahtani also said 15 out of the 19 hijackers that conducted the 9/11 attacks were Saudis, and that “thousands of Saudi citizens have taken up arms to join” Daesh and other radical outfits.

He went on to say that “Saudi textbooks are used in ISIS (Daesh) schools,” noting that “Saudi citizens also finance a large number of the 50 groups designated by the US Department of State as terrorist organizations.”

Abu Dhabi was towing no better a track record than that of Riyadh, the article asserted, saying that two Emiratis had participated in the September 11, 2001 hijackings, and that staff report to the US-formed 9/11 Commission had revealed that much of the funding for the attacks had flowed through the Emirates.

Qahtani further called for dialog in the absence of pressure tactics and ultimatums to resolve the unprecedented diplomatic crisis facing the Persian Gulf region.

‘Trust in tatters’

In another development on Tuesday, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said the siege had caused serious harm to mutual trust among the members of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which also features Kuwait and Oman apart from Qatar and the littoral Arab blockaders.

It would take “a lot of time” to retrieve trust in  the GCC, which has been among the building blocks of the regional pan-Arab group, the top diplomat added.

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