Impulsive Riyadh ‘bullying’ its neighbours

 28 Nov 2017 - 10:09

Impulsive Riyadh ‘bullying’ its neighbours

The Peninsula

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister H E Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has said that Riyadh is “bullying” its neighbours and risking new conflict amid an ongoing diplomatic crisis.

“This is a big country bullying a small country — we have seen it in Qatar and now we are seeing it repeated in Lebanon,” the Deputy Prime Minister said at a round table discussion including The Independent, at a conference in London.

The Deputy Prime Minister said that although emergency air corridors were open, planes were being forced to fly over Yemen and that military operations were being “put in jeopardy” by the blockade, which has closed the border used to import 90 percent of supplies for Qatar.

He said a list of 13 demands issued by Saudi Arabia and its allies in exchange for lifting the restrictions were impossible to meet, and a “clear indication that they don’t want to be accepted.”

“They don’t want to resolve this, they  want our country in submission, which is the main reason they started the entire thing,” he added.

The Deputy Prime Minister said: “This is just part of a pattern of impulsive leadership … They entered this conflict with no exit strategy. No one has identified a strategy; no one has any idea on the way forward with them.”

“There is absolutely not any link between Qatar, terrorism and terrorist movements,” he said. “They see the West as enemies, they see us as enemies … Other countries are accusing any political opponents of being terrorists. Some countries are just using terrorism as justification for political matters against Qatar - they see this is the only way they can get sympathy… we learnt from the blockade that we have to present our case very clearly and not to ignore any accusation which can be used against us.”

Speaking about the Riyadh role in “bullying” its neighbours and its intervenstion in other countries internal affairs, the Deputy Prime Minister said “Lebanon is just the latest target in a Saudi campaign of intimidation that risks destabilising the Middle East,” Deputy Prime Minister said, reports The Independent. 

“Lebanon is a fragile country, and pressuring the Prime Minister to resign and leave a vacuum in a country – which is very sensitive for everybody – is a counter-productive policy,” Sheikh Mohamed said at a round table discussion including The Independent, at a conference in London.

He further said: “Thanks to God and all the allies that contained the situation before it evolved and got worse … If it was not contained from the beginning we would have a horrific impact.”
The Deputy Prime Minister was also highly critical of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the continuing Yemen war. “Yemen war needs to end, Iraq needs to be stabilised, we need to reach a just solution for the Syrian people, otherwise we are going to face a new generation of extremism. There are enough crises on the table – we hope that no more will be created.”

The Independent further reported that the Deputy Prime Minister told the Westminster Counter-Terrorism Conference that the Middle East – “a region brimming with extremism” - could not afford more turbulence, as conflict continues in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Although the Middle East was once a region of peace and co-existence, it has unfortunately been transformed into a region of turbulence and totalitarianism, where extremism flourishes,” he said.

“What is the root cause of terrorism? Tyranny, totalitarianism, aggression and the absence of justice.”

He said 24 million children across the Middle East were being left vulnerable to recruitment by terrorist groups, authoritarianism and a lack of education and opportunity, adding: “We need to address this issue of regimes who are not respecting the rights of their people or the law.”

The Deputy Prime Minister said Qatar would not retaliate by cutting of gas supplies to the United Arab Emirates or other Saudi allies, because it “would not use the same approach they have used against our people”.

He called for allies including the UK to be more engaged in the region.