A senior counter-terrorism adviser to Qatar’s foreign minister has hit out at the diplomatic squeeze on Doha by several Gulf states, calling it a “policy of domination and control”.
Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, a special envoy to Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, said the decision to sever ties over Qatar’s alleged funding of Islamist extremist groups would not prove successful.
“I think this isn’t about counter-terrorism, it’s not about terror financing,” he said. I think it is an orchestrated campaign against Qatar to change its active, independent foreign policy.
Qatar has been isolated for the past week by Saudi and others over “terrorism” and because of its relatively relaxed approach to relations with Jeddah’s great regional rival, Iran.
As a result Qatar’s only land border has been closed, airspace with neighbouring countries denied and its citizens told to leave several Gulf countries within two weeks.
He was also dismissive of a terror blacklist published by the Gulf allies last week which named various Qataris and Qatar-based organisations.
New shipping routes
Qatar announced it had launched direct shipping services to ports in Oman, a move that bypasses a Gulf “blockade.”
Qatar’s port authority announced the launch of two new services from Hamad Port to Oman’s Sohar and Salalah ports, circumventing the need for cargo to stop in the neighbouring United Arab Emirates.
The UAE had served as a central stopping point in cargo shipments.
Qatar’s Hamad Port is 420 nautical miles from Sohar Port and 1,131 nautical miles from Salalah.
Qatar is the world’s largest producer and exporter of liquified natural gas, but it heavily relies on imports for food staples and raw materials. Analysts estimate at least 40% of Qatar’s food supplies are imported across Saudi Arabia.
Iran on Sunday announced it had sent five planes and three ships carrying food to Qatar.