Gulf crisis started in 1996 - Qatari Defense Minister

In an exclusive interview, Qatar’s Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammad al Attiyah tells us that the dispute with Gulf states goes back to 1996. He says the Emir of Qatar's policies are not anti-GCC, and all accusations against Qatar are untrue.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

In an exclusive interview with TRT World, Qatar’s Defence Minister, Khalid bin Mohammad al Attiyah said that the relations with the US are strong, historic and strategic.

Updated Jul 18, 2017

In an exclusive interview with TRT World’s Soraya Lennie, Qatar’s Defence Minister, Khalid bin Mohammad al Attiyah said the dispute with Gulf states goes back to 1996.

It was a coup at that time and much more "nasty."

He said similar things happened in 2013-2014 and everyone knew what happened then.

All accusations against Qatar, and the emir of Qatar that his policies were against the GCC are not true, he said.

Led by Saudi Arabia, several states in the Middle East and Africa have severed ties with Qatar since June 5, accusing the gas-rich Gulf state of supporting terrorism and Iran.

Qatar has denied the accusations and called the collective decision "unjustified."

Kuwait, Turkey and the US have all urged a political solution as the bloc isolates Qatar using various ad hoc sanctions, including shutting down their airspace to Qataris and blocking import routes.

“The emir assumed power on June 25, 2013. At that time I was in the government, and on July 26,  I became the Minister of Foreign Affairs and we went to take oath in front of his Highness, the emir. Days later, in July, I received a phone call from my colleague in Kuwait, saying they received a complaint from Saudi about Qatar making trouble in the region they had to come together quickly to solve this issue. That was maybe 10 days after his Highness, the emir assumed power.”

Comparing the current situation of Qatar with that of Nicaragua in 1980, he hinted that Qatar could go to the International Court of Justice to get compensation for damages it faced because of the siege.

On being asked about relations with the US, he said that their relations with the US were strong, historic and strategic.

Regarding the demand of the closure of the Turkish air base, he said that everyone knew about the base and no one could ask them to close it.

He further added to be or not to be a part of GCC was now in the hands of Qatari people. “The answer is in the hands of Qatari people, it is for them to decide.”

UAE arranged for hacking of Qatar government sites

The UAE arranged for Qatari government social media and news sites to be hacked in late May in order to post fiery but false quotes linked to Qatar's emir, prompting a diplomatic crisis, The Washington Post reported on Sunday, citing US intelligence officials.

TRT World's Soraya Lennie reports.

Qatar said in late May that hackers had posted fake remarks by the emir, an explanation rejected by Gulf states.

The Post reported that US intelligence officials learned last week of newly analysed information that showed that top UAE government officials discussed the planned hacks on May 23, the day before they occurred.

The officials said it was unclear if the UAE hacked the websites or paid for them to be carried out, the newspaper reported. The Post did not identify the intelligence officials it spoke to for the report.

UAE Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba denied the report in a statement, saying it was "false," the Post said.

"What is true is Qatar’s behaviour. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Qadafi. Inciting violence, encouraging radicalisation, and undermining the stability of its neighbours," the statement said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was previously known to be working with Qatar to probe the hacking.

UAE denies hacking allegations

The UAE was not responsible for an alleged hack of Qatari websites which helped spark a month-long diplomatic rift with Doha, the UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs said on Monday.

Anwar Gargash denied as false a story in the Washington Post that cited US officials saying the UAE had orchestrated the hacking of Qatar's state news agency.

"The Washington Post story today that we actually hacked the Qataris is also not true," he told the London-based think tank Chatham House.

However, Gargash said the UAE would not escalate its boycott by asking companies to choose between doing business with it or with Qatar.

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies