Qatar Says Gulf Alliance Needs Replacing
Qatar called Saturday for a new regional alliance following the failure of the four-decade-old Gulf Cooperation Council to resolve an 18-month rift between the emirate and its neighbours.
Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that the boycott imposed on the emirate by Saudi Arabia and its allies had irreparably damaged the existing six-nation structure set up at the height of the Iran-Iraq war in 1981.
"The regional alliance has been undermined by the crisis," Sheikh Mohammed told policymakers at the two-day Doha Forum.
"Therefore the alliance that existed needs to be reshaped and redesigned to ensure future stability and security of the region."
His comments came after Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, stayed away from the GCC's annual summit in Riyadh last Sunday despite receiving an invitation from its Saudi hosts.
The Qatari minister lashed out at the reasons advanced by Saudi Arabia and its allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates for imposing their sweeping boycott.
"It was based on lies, it was based on crimes... it was based on creating propaganda to create fear among the people," he said.
Riyadh and its allies accused Doha of supporting "terrorist groups", including the Muslim Brotherhood which they blacklist but with which Qatar has longstanding ties.
They also accused the emirate of advocating improved relations with Saudi arch rival Iran, with which Qatar shares important offshore gas fields.
They set out their complaints in a 13-point list of demands that has been rejected by Doha as an assault on its sovereignty and its right to conduct an independent foreign policy.
In his opening remarks to the forum, the emir said Qatar's Gulf partners needed to show respect for its independence.
"Lifting the blockade is based on mutual recognition and non-interference," he said.