Bahrain Calls for Freezing Qatar’s (P)GCC Membership

The reason why Taliban came here, it’s not because Qatar asked them to come, America asked, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim said
Heads of states of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council in a meeting. (File Photo)Heads of states of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council in a meeting. (File Photo)

Bahrain will not attend the next (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council summit if Qatar attends, the Bahraini foreign minister said in a series of tweets, in which he also called for Doha to be suspended from the bloc.

In the posts made late Sunday night, Khalid al-Khalifa said Qatar’s membership of the bloc should be frozen until it submits to demands made by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the UAE, Al Jazeera reported.

“Bahrain will not attend the (P)GCC summit and sit with Qatar ... The right step needed to maintain the (P)GCC is to freeze Qatar’s membership until it comes to its senses and complies with our list of demands,” Khalifa said.

“Given what comes from Qatar, from its rogue policy and pervasive evil nature that threatens our national security, our countries have taken the important step of boycotting Qatar and imposing a siege on it,” he added.

Bahrain and its allies, which have imposed a land, sea, and air blockade on Qatar since June, accuse Doha of supporting terrorist groups.

Demands made by the quartet include suspension of support for groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, cooling of ties with Iran, shutting down Al Jazeera and several other media outlets, and the removal of Turkish troops from Qatar.

Khalifa’s tweets are the first admission by a member of the quartet that they are besieging Qatar after previously claiming there was merely a boycott of the country and that Doha had no grounds to complain.

  Regime Change

The comments were made shortly after the broadcast of a CBS interview with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in which he accused Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies of seeking to topple his government.

“They want a regime change. It’s... so obvious,” the Qatari emir said.

“History as well tells us, teaches us they tried to do that before, in 1996 after my father became the emir. They made it also so obvious in the last couple of weeks.”

Sheikh Tamim became emir in 2013 at the age of 33, after his father, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, transferred power to him.

In the interview, Sheikh Tamim said he will not bow to pressure from a group of Arab states blockading his country, calling the independence and sovereignty of the Persian Gulf nation a “red line”.

“Our sovereignty is a red line. We don’t accept anybody interfering our sovereignty,” he said.

“They don’t like our independence, the way how we are thinking, our vision for the region,” he added.

“We want freedom of speech for the people of the region and they’re not happy with that, and so they think that this is a threat to them.”

When people took to the streets across the Middle East and North Africa in protests that would become known as the Arab spring, Qatar “stood by the people,” Sheikh Tamim said.

“The difference between us and them during the Arab Spring is that we stood by the people. They stood by the regimes.

“I feel that we chose the right side when we stood by the people.”

  “It Was a Shock”    

The months-long diplomatic dispute began about two weeks after a late May Arab-Islamic-American summit in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, which was attended by US President Donald Trump and representatives of 55 Arab and Muslim-dominated countries.

Among them was both the Qatari emir and the leaders of the countries that subsequently blockaded Qatar.

“It was a shock,” said Sheikh Tamim, referring to the blockade.

“A few weeks before that, we were meeting, all of us together, in one room, including President Trump,” he said.

“We were discussing terrorism, financing terrorism, and nobody brought any concern from those countries. Nobody told me anything.”

When asked about the presence of Taliban in Qatar, he said that they were asked and allowed to set up offices in the Qatari capital of Doha at the request of the United States.

“The reason why they came here, it’s not because we asked them to come,” he told 60 Minutes.

“America asked … They wanted to have dialogue so they asked us if we can host them here and have the dialogue. So we hosted them here, this is the reason why they’re here,” added Sheikh Tamim.


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