“In the Gulf, political disputes prevail over the needs of the people”

Mohamed Ben Abdel Rahman Al-Thani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, in Erbil, Iraq, January 15.
Mohamed Ben Abdel Rahman Al-Thani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, in Erbil, Iraq, January 15. SAFIN HAMED / AFP

Since June 5, 2017, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt have placed Qatar, which they accuse of complacency with regard to the Islamists and Tehran, under diplomatic and economic embargo. On the occasion of the three years of this crisis, Mohamed Ben Abdel Rahman Al-Thani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the emirate, returns to these consequences, while all the countries of the Gulf are confronted with the epidemic of Covid -19.

Last fall, we saw some signs of relaxation between the players in the Gulf crisis. And then this rapprochement ceased. Where are we today?

Unfortunately, the efforts of the past year have not worked, although there has been progress. It seems that the other side did not want to engage in real negotiations. However, mediation efforts by the Emir of Kuwait and the United States continue. We remain ready to discuss a long-term solution, as long as it does not infringe on our sovereignty and does not violate international law. But it must be understood that this crisis was built from scratch, with a smear and propaganda campaign against Qatar, which had no justification and continues to this day. If there has been no breakthrough in the negotiations, it is because the fabricated aspect of the crisis has never been recognized.

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The United States is working to resolve the air aspect of the crisis by pushing Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to reopen their skies on Qatar Airways aircraft. How determined is Washington?

No progress has been made yet. But we remain in close contact with the Americans. This story has been illegal from the start. Our case is before the International Criminal Court and the International Civil Aviation Organization and we hope to recover our airspace.

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In the debate on the next world, what is Qatar’s position? What must be changed so that a health crisis like the one we have gone through does not repeat itself?

No country can feel safe anymore, this is the novelty. Previous epidemics, like those of SARS, had not really spread to regions other than those in which they had emerged. But the Covid-19 pandemic has reached all of us. So the first lesson from this crisis is that every country in the world needs a resilient health system that can cope. Second, there is a need to strengthen multilateralism and international cooperation, to ensure that countries have a unified platform for exchanging views and experience. Finally, we must guarantee the protection of supply chains, so that we can meet our domestic needs, but also the needs of other countries.

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