Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheik Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, on Thursday rejected what he called demands by other Gulf states for it to “surrender our sovereignty”.
He made the remarks to reporters at the London headquarters of the Chatham House think-tank about the ongoing political crisis plaguing the Arab Gulf states.
“Beginning in April, Qatar was subjected to a carefully orchestrated and unprecedented smear campaign aimed at misrepresenting our policies on key issues affecting the region,” Al Thani said.
At the time, the minister said, Qatari officials had told regional news outlets that Qatar’s official news agency had been hacked.
Nevertheless, he added, media outlets in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had promoted statements falsely attributed to the Qatari Emir, as genuine.
The crisis came to a head on June 5, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen all abruptly cut diplomatic relations with Doha, accusing it of meddling in their internal affairs and supporting terrorist groups.
Saudi Arabia also sealed its land border with Qatar, geographically isolating the tiny Gulf state.
Doha, for its part, strenuously denies that it supports terrorist groups, describing the moves to isolate it as “unjustified” and in breach of international law.
He further said that the list of 13 demands issued by the countries now arrayed against Qatar – including calls to close Doha-based broadcaster Al Jazeera – was tantamount to a demand to “surrender our sovereignty”.
Qatar, he asserted, “will do whatever it takes to protect our people”.