Qatar refuses to bow to Saudi-led demands to “outsource” its foreign policy to resolve the Gulf crisis, its government spokesman said in an interview published Friday.
Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al-Thani, who holds ministerial rank, accused Doha’s adversaries in the crisis, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt, of meddling in Qatar’s internal affairs.
“What’s behind this crisis of course is Qatari sovereignty and independence to put it very simply. It is about… outsourcing our foreign policy so that decisions are not made in Qatar, and that is something that will never be acceptable,” he told AFP.
Sheikh Saif said the Saudi-led bloc had laid down a new “ultimatum” on Tuesday by publishing a list of individuals and “terrorist” entities allegedly linked to Doha.
This “list, it’s still an ultimatum, it’s still something that is stalling resolving the crisis”, the official said.
However, “we have said it from the start, we are open to dialogue, we are open to negotiating… The first step should be lifting the illegal blockade.”
In the region’s worst diplomatic crisis in years, Riyadh and allies have been boycotting Doha since June 5.
They have sealed the emirate’s only land border, ordered its citizens to leave, and closed their airspace and waters to Qatari flights and shipping.
They are demanding that Qatar break its longstanding ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, blacklisted as a “terror group” by the four governments although not by the international community.
They also want Doha to close broadcasting giant Al-Jazeera and a Turkish military base, and to fall in line with Saudi-led policy in the region, particularly towards Iran.
Sheikh Saif insisted that “this crisis was again triggered by them not by us”.
Qatar was prepared to discuss “anything openly” as long as it does not impinge on the country’s sovereignty and independence, he said.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and severed air, land and sea links with it on June 5 after accusing it of backing extremist groups. Qatar strongly denies the charge and argues the isolation effort is politically motivated.
They later issued a tough 13-point list of demands needed to resolve the crisis, including shutting down news outlets including Al-Jazeera, limiting ties with Iran and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country.
Qatar refused to bow to the demands within a 10-day deadline, and the anti-Qatar bloc has begun to shift its focus toward six principles on combatting extremism and terrorism.