Qatar has leadership, vision to be a reliable partner for peace

Sunday، 06 June 2021 12:41 AM

HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani stressed that Qatar has a wise leadership and a clear vision to be a reliable partner for peace and security in the region and the world, saying that Qatar has been a facilitating country and a mediator between the various conflicting parties and has proven its success for decades in this field, and it is not something new for Qatar but a continuation of the same path.
He iterated this during his participation in a session entitled “West Asia and North Africa: Paths Towards Stability and Prosperity,” organised by the Doha Forum during the St Petersburg International Economic Forum 2021.
On the recent developments in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli governments request from the United States for $1bn and military aid to restore the Iron Dome, Sheikh Mohamed felt what led to the situation that happened in Gaza was not related to the restoration of the Iron Dome, or how strong or steadfast the Israelis are, but in fact with the behaviour of the Israelis in Jerusalem recently, mainly the evacuation of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and the provocation that occurred to the people trying to reach Al Aqsa Mosque, most of whom are Muslims and Christians.
He considered that Israeli actions angered the people in the West Bank and Gaza, and led to the latest round of violence, which unfortunately witnessed the killing of innocent civilians and the destruction of the Gaza Strip, stressing the need to focus on building peace rather than focusing only on the resilience of one side or the other in the conflict.
In response to a question about the following countries in the Gulf Co-operation Council that will join the “Abraham Accords,” along with the UAE and Bahrain, or is such a decision premature, he said: “We cannot judge whether the decision was premature or mature enough. We see from our point of view in Qatar, which I can comment on, that the main reason for the lack of a relationship between us and Israel is the occupation of the Palestinian territories, and the reason is still there, still valid, and there is no step or any hope toward peace yet. We didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.” 
He explained: “Now we see that there are principles on which there is unanimity, one of which is the Arab Peace Initiative and the principles of the Quartet, and we believe that if there is a willingness on the Israeli side, which it has not demonstrated during the past decades, this will constitute a good starting point, which is the recognition of the Palestinian state, and then all Arabs can go ahead and then establish a relationship with Israel.” 
He added: “So it’s not really about a country on its own having a relationship with Israel because that’s not a solution to the entire conflict, but I think we have to address the conflict first; at least for us from our point of view in Qatar, then we take the step to have peace with Israelis.”
On whether he is concerned that Naftali Bennett may not be the best person to make peace, Sheikh Mohamed said: “We cannot comment on something that is not known yet.
There is a coalition that we have heard about that will form the new government, but it has not taken the oath yet, and no-one knows what will happen in the next few days and whether there will be changes in conditions there,” pointing out, “What we want is to see a government that has a vision of a Palestinian state, that has a vision that takes some serious steps toward peace and stops any action that provokes the Palestinians, especially with regard to Jerusalem, which is very sensitive for everyone, for Muslims, for Christians, for everyone.”
He also expressed his belief that “any behaviour that talks about new settlements, or what they call the activities of the settler communities, which led to the evacuation of Sheikh Jarrah, will not help in resolving the issue and will be counterproductive and keep us in this circle, a day of violence, a day of the cease-fire and so on,” adding, “I think we need a government that leads a process towards achieving peace by recognising the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.” 
Regarding the focus of the administration of US President Joe Biden on the Iranian file, Qatar’s willingness in the past to facilitate discussions between the Taliban movement and the US, between other partners, and with Hamas and Qatar’s vision to achieve peace and a two-state solution, Sheikh Mohamed said Qatar has always been a reliable partner for peace and security in the region, and has facilitated and mediated between the various conflicting parties.
The foreign minister said: “About Iran and the United States, it is in our interest not only in Qatar, but also in the Gulf Co-operation Council states that there be an agreement between them, that there is an agreement that also stops the nuclear race that is taking place in our region, and it is in our interest not to see any escalation between the US and Iran, the United States is a strategic ally for Qatar, and we want to maintain this strategic alliance. Iran is our next-door neighbour, and we want to see stability over there.”
He stated that if both parties request Qatar to participate in facilitating matters, Qatar will certainly do so. “Right now, we are just conveying the message for both parties to be more positive and more constructive in engaging with each other, and to reach a deal as soon as possible,” he said.
On whether he expects Syria to return to the Arab League in the near term, he stated, “We have been hearing this question for a long time, and a lot has been said about Syria’s return to the Arab League over the past two years, and some countries in the Arab League demand that and support such a thing, but our main question is: What prompted the suspension of Syria’s membership in the Arab League in the first place” adding, “I think the question is still valid, especially since there are still, I believe, 6.7 million refugees outside the country, and more than 6 million internally displaced persons, and there is still a conflict between the Syrian people and the regime, so why do we change our position that we took in 2011 or 2012 by suspending Syria and now we want to return it. What did the regime do to make us return it to the Arab League? I think that there are serious steps that must be taken to reach a political settlement in Syria before considering that matter from our point of view.”
On whether he believes that it is wrong to restore diplomatic relations with Syria at this stage, Sheikh Mohamed explained that this is a sovereign decision of every country, pointing out that Qatar does not intend to restore diplomatic relations with Syria as long as the reasons for its severance remain, if there is progress in the political settlement, then Qatar will consider its options.
Regarding what is most worrying about the Iranian nuclear negotiations, he said that Qatar’s vision, which His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani mentioned several times, is to have a regional security framework for dialogue between Iran and the GCC countries and to address Iran’s concerns toward the GCC countries or the GCC countries’ concerns toward Iran.
Regarding the role of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the investment situation, and economic outlook in today’s world, Sheikh Mohamed said the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the global economic landscape, created many opportunities, and stopped some businesses that were growing in previous years.
He pointed out that QIA is focusing heavily on diversifying Qatar’s economy, and this means creating an alternative energy source for hydrocarbon, adding that Qatar’s natural resources are managed by Qatar Petroleum, and the QIA is the arm that helps and supports the government to create alternative energy sources for future generations.
On the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on tourism and preparations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, he said people will not stop travelling and tourism, adding there is an impact on the work of hotels because of the pandemic which needs a year or two to return to normalcy. He added that Qatar is ready to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup even if there is uncertainty about the duration of the pandemic and how the vaccines will work.
Qatar, he disclosed, has prepared an alternative plan to ensure that all people who will attend the World Cup have been vaccinated and tested to provide them with the maximum experience they would like to see at the World Cup.
On the blockade imposed on Qatar, HE Sheikh Mohammed said that it is an unfortunate incident that occurred and divided the GCC countries, and Qatar is looking forward to overcoming this issue, but also learning from this experience, adding that the GCC countries have been divided for years and lost a lot of co-operation, therefore, at present, the important thing is to maintain and protect the GCC from being divided in the future, and building positive and constructive relations with the u and building common interests.

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