Qatar Hits Out at Gulf States 'Policy of Domination and Control'

A painting depicting Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani is seen on a bus during a demonstration in support of him in Doha, Qatar June 11, 2017 REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

A senior Qatari counter-terror official has denounced a diplomatic and economic embargo imposed by Saudi Arabia and its regional allies saying Doha will not surrender to a "policy of domination and control."

Senior security adviser, Mutlaq al-Qahtani, also a special envoy to the Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, told Al-Jazeera the week-long blockade of Qatar would never work in the long term.

"We have our national committees on terror financing and counter-terrorism," he told the Doha-based news channel. "We also have our preventive action plan, but more importantly, we work very hard on tackling the root cause of terrorism."

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Mounting tensions between Qatar and its neighbors spilled over last week when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain all cut diplomatic ties, accusing Qatar of supporting "terrorism." Yemen and Libya's eastern-based government also severed relations with the gas-rich Gulf nation.

The countries involved in the dispute accused Qatar of supporting the Islamic State militant group (ISIS); Qatar responded by pointing out that it is part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria. Qatar has also accused Saudi Arabia of backing the militant group.

In recent days, Saudi Arabia and its allies have also accused Qatar of hosting the Taliban. Qahtani said the presence of Taliban officials in Qatar was "absolutely a request by the U.S. government."

He added that it was Doha's aim to facilitate talks between the Taliban and the United States and that mediation and the fostering of peaceful ties lay at the heart of Qatar's foreign policy.

On June 9, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the U.A.E published a list of 59 individuals and 12 organizations they deemed to have supported terror that were either based in Qatar or backed by the tiny monarchy. The list named 18 Qataris, including members of the royal family.

Qahtani described the list as "misleading" and "not credible." He added that most of the names on the list had no real link to Qatar, adding that many of the individuals mentioned had never visited the country.

The Gulf states have also been critical of Qatar's increasing closeness with Iran, Saudi Arabia's principal rival in the region. The Associated Press reported Iran on Monday urged the Gulf nations to negotiate an end to their differences in the face of the deepening crisis.

On his first foreign visit as president abroad, Donald Trump lambasted Iran in Riyadh. "For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror. It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder," Trump said in his May speech.

When the embargo of Qatar began, the president appeared to take partial credit for it, welcoming the move. "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 extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!" he wrote on Twitter.

However, the White House later urged Qatar and the other Gulf states to resolve the crisis. Qatar, a key U.S. ally, has hosted the United States' largest airbase in the Gulf since 2003. The Al Udeid Air Base has also been used by U.S. B-52 bombers to carry out a series of air strikes against ISIS warehouses in Iraq and Syria.