The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has said that his country is ready for dialogue to resolve a diplomatic crisis with a Saudi-led group, but stressed that any solution to the crisis must respect his country’s sovereignty.
“We are open to dialogue to resolve the outstanding problems [so long as Qatar’s] sovereignty is respected,” Sheikh Tamim said in a televised address on Friday, his first since Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut ties with the peninsula.
Qatar has been targeted by unprecedented campaign, Sheikh Tamim said, adding that he valued Kuwait’s mediation and the support of the United States, Turkey and Germany for their efforts to resolve the crisis.
The Emir thanked Turkey for “putting into force quickly a cooperation agreement signed between us and meeting our basic needs”.
“It is clear that the campaign against us was pre-planned. We took a test and passed it,” Sheikh Tamim said.
The Emir hailed the solidarity and resolve that Qataris have shown in the face of the crisis, and said it would make his country, which will host football’s World Cup in 2022, even more resilient.
“People are amazed to see Qatari people maintaining high level of morale despite the unprecedented smearing campaign,” Sheikh Tamim said.
“It was a true ethical trial. Our people have passed the test with colours, and we have held steadfast to our principles and traditions even in the time of trials, simple for the reason that we respect ourselves.
“I call on all of you to continue to hold on to that.”
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt have imposed sanctions on Qatar, accusing it of financing extremist groups and allying with their arch-foe Iran, allegations that Doha denies.
In his address, the Emir stressed that Qatar was fighting terrorism not to please others, but because it believes in that mission.
“Qatar is fighting terrorism, relentlessly and without compromises, and there is international recognition of Qatar’s role in this regard,” he said.
The US and other Western countries have dispatched senior envoys to the region to press both sides to resolve the dispute.
‘Undermined our sovereignty’
The crisis was precipitated after Qatar’s News Agency, the country’s state media, was hacked to post a false statement of the Emir purportedly critical of the US foeign policy.
Sheikh Tamim said the four countries tried to undermine Qatar’s foreign policy, and muzzle freedom of expression.
“The perpetrators have undermined our sovereignty and independence by fabricating false statements to mislead international public opinion,” the Emir said.
Qatar’s ministry of interior on July 20 said the cyberattacks originated in the UAE.
The Saudi-led sanctions include closing Qatar’s only land border, refusing Qatar access to their airspace and ordering their citizens back from Qatar. The measures have disrupted the import of food and other items, and caused foreign banks to scale back business with Qatar.
Initially, the Saudi-led bloc issued a tough 13-point list of demands needed to resolve the crisis, including shutting down news outlets including Al Jazeera, cutting ties with Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, 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.
The speech comes a day after Qatar’s ruler issued a decree setting new rules for defining terrorism, freezing funding and terrorism financing, and established national terrorism lists.
Earlier in the day, US Secretary of State Rex said the US was satisfied with Qatar’s efforts to address concerns about terror financing and counterterrorism.
He urged Qatar’s neighbours to lift a land blockade as a “sign of good faith”.