Mohamed Al Kuwari / Qatar’s Ambassador
Alberto Rubio. 14/07/2017
Qatar is going through a difficult times, but Mohamed Al Kuwairi never loses his composure or his smile. Qatar’s Ambassador to Spain flatly rejects the accusations of Saudi Arabia and its allies: “they lack foundation and proof to support their accusations; only generalities and contradictions”.
The most serious accusation is that Qatar promoted terrorism.
Qatar has made its position against terrorism very clear. It is a blot affecting our security and stability. But some countries use the excuse of terrorism as a projectile to settle accounts.
Can you assure that Qatar does not support terrorism?
Qatar is an active member of the international coalition against terrorism, it has the US’s biggest military base in the area and, some time ago, it introduced an anti-terrorist mechanism in the Cooperation Council of the Gulf. Is there bigger proof of our commitment?
And it is not only the military fight. We work to put an end to the roots of terrorism: we have created 500,000 jobs for the Arab youth. And we contribute to the education of 7 million children in 42 countries, with a fund of 100 million dollars. We want to prepare the youth for the future, keeping them away from terrorist groups. Some countries envy this.
Maybe they do not want Qatar’s influence on these young people.
But they can do the same. If people are provided with education, they will not be attracted by terrorists, they will look for a job and prosperity. That is fighting against terrorism too.
Your relationship with Iran does not please Saudi Arabia either.
We do not have a privileged relationship with Iran. We share a natural gas plant and that is it. Business exchanges between Qatar and Iran amount to 200 million dollars. However, between Iran and the countries of this coalition, they amount to 10,000 million. Who is the one having a privileged relationship? Do you know how many Iranians live in the Arab Emirates? 100,000 people. Now, Iranians can enter those countries and Qataris cannot. Another contradiction.
Are we facing a dispute over the regional hegemony?
Accusations are a smoke screen. Reality is that they do not want Qatar to have an independent foreign policy or to play an important role in the region. They want to close Al Jazeera, because free information in the region upsets them. Their media attack Qatar daily. And they are not professional. They are ‘journalists’ allied with intelligence agencies.
Is it still possible to negotiate?
Qatar bets on dialogue, but with respect for the international law and human rights. Qatar does not allow intervention in its domestic affairs. It is a matter of sovereignty. Those demands have many contradictions and are based on a mentality full of hatred. They presented them so that Qatar rejected them, not to dialogue.
Saudi Arabia expelled Qataris from its territory. Did Qatar do the same?
No. They ordered Qataris to leave their countries and their nationals to leave Qatar in 14 days. How can you tell that to ordinary people? They have children in school, a house, businesses. There were Saudi students in the university of Qatar. Can you imagine the damage they have caused them? And they had to return, because they were threatened with severe punishments.
How will this escalation end?
If the international community does not stop it, today it is Qatar and tomorrow it will be another country in the Gulf. They talk about stability and security, but they have created a chaotic and very dangerous situation.
Do you trust the US?
The US has a very strong relationship with all the countries of the Gulf and economic, military and strategic interests. The US wants a solution and it bets on dialogue now.
And what about Spain’s attitude?
We really appreciate the positive stance of Spain, who has asked to defuse tension in the region and to open a dialogue.
The UN has not been very active in this crisis.
The secretary general already supported Kuwait’s initiative and asked for dialogue. The UN understands Qatar’s position and it is in the UN where all this has to be discussed.
Has Qatar’s world projection generated distrust, envy?
Some countries can have resentment. But our projects are for the entire region. All these countries have financial resources to do the same. The difference is that Qatar has a political vision for its development. If other countries worked with us, we would add and important value for everyone.
Can this crisis affect FIFA?
No. FIFA has a very strong coordination with Qatar and we have made great progress in the works. Our region is now important for the preparation of the World Cup. That will create a cultural bridge with the entire world.