In a live-streamed talk from the American Enterprise Institute in Qatar, last evening Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, HE Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani sat down with moderator Andrew Bowen to discuss the Changing Dynamics of the Gulf in the wake of the ongoing GCC Crisis.
The talk, which was broadcast online at 5:00 p.m. local time on Thursday, February 1, 2018 comes days after the Deputy Prime Minister, and Qatar’s Defense Minister Khalid bin Muhammad al-Attiyah, convened in Washington alongside U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis for the inaugural U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue Opening Session.
“The U.S. and Qatar have been allies for 45 years,” stated His Excellency. “We have dozens of agreements that memorialize our commitment to each other. This week our countries met for an historic strategic dialogue, and signed five additional agreements including defending the cyber-security of critical infrastructure for energy, strengthening trade, investment, and technology, developing international law enforcement to stop human trafficking, and continuing joint defense commitments. The Qatari delegation could not have been welcomed with wider arms.”
Speaking on the implications of the continuing GCC crisis on the region and for U.S. partnerships, HE the Deputy Prime Minister addressed key issues of relevance towards and “propose ideas for a way forward.”
Here are some of the most important outcomes mentioned:
His Excellency highlighted the unique partnership between both nations, with 11,000 troops stationed at the largest U.S. air-force base in the Middle East in Qatar, thousands of U.S. teachers and students living and working in Qatar, and hundreds of U.S. companies making Qatar their investment base.
Qatar joins the U.S. passion for restoring regional security, with His Excellency reinforcing that the intimidation methods employed by the blockading states “threaten the success of all the agreements and investments between Qatar and the United States."
The U.S. is identified as a critical part of Qatar’s vision towards its continuation of development into a nation that can keep providing for the needs of its citizens, with His Excellency stating that “ending the turmoil in the Middle East will take further leadership.”
Joint cooperation between the U.S. and Qatar is necessary to restoring peace in the region. “The U.S. and Qatar have been fighting terrorism together for many years,” expressed His Excellency. “Terrorism cannot be destroyed through only military efforts – but also through lifting up the oppressed through a vision of openness and hope.”
(Photo credit: American Enterprise Institute)
On the GCC Crisis and possible resolution:
HE the Deputy Prime Minister stated the following on the actions and motives of the blockading states: “Some of these nations are bent on intimidation, aggression, and dangerous flirtation with war. Make no mistake, these powers are feuding for domination – and taking as prisoners not just the neighbours they bully. The suffering inflicted by these power-hungry forces is not limited to the starvation and devastation in places like Yemen, Syria, and Somalia. The well-being of citizens within these dominating regimes is also being sacrificed in the power grab.”
Intimidation methods employed by the blockading states include illegal market manipulation, and different kinds of aggressions not limited to humanitarian assaults, silencing dissenters, weaponizing propaganda, and undermining the global fight against terrorism. “The world is discovering that the blockading states will stop at nothing,” stated His Excellency.
His Excellency described the goals of the blockading countries as the destabilization of the energy and financial markets, and laying the groundwork for the next generation of terrorists, stating that “terrorism flourishes in oppressive, closed regimes.”
Hope must remain. “There is a silver lining of this blockade,” stated His Excellency. “Qatar has been able to show resilience and survive under siege. We hope the GCC can be rebuilt. The Qatari people are a resilient and forgiving people. We wish for unity. We can’t ignore the historic bond between the countries of the GCC.”
His Excellency called for a holistic regional security plan to rebuild devastated countries of the region that would “govern by reason over impulse, and serve the interests of all its members.”
He further stated that such a plan must possess and arbitration mechanism that protects both small and large nations, and must have binding consequences for those who seek crisis and threaten security.
His Excellency also called for a regional strategic dialogue that can serve as a “foundation for healing and prosperity for the region.”
Qatar’s support for the initiative towards mediation by the Emir of Kuwait was reinforce amid the call for dialogue. “The GCC Summit was an opportunity where our leaders could see each other face-to-face,” expressed His Excellency. “We were surprised that they cancelled their attendance and downgraded their representation at the Summit. The response from the other side is not there yet.”
His Excellency also reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to a united Gulf region, stating that the U.S. has “always stressed the importance of the Gulf countries to come together.” He further elaborated: “We need to start a just and fair process, and the U.S. Secretary of State [Rex Tillerson] has started to propose what can become a baseline for further negotiations – and Qatar was very responsive to those proposals.”
Watch HE The Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani’s full speech and dialogue at the American Enterprise Institute below:
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(Cover image courtesy of the American Enterprise Institute)