Wednesday, March 20, 2019
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Qatari emir: Blockade by GCC countries proving 'futile'

In comments to major security conference, Sheikh Tamim denounces 'aggressive' blockade imposed by four Arab countries.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani

An ongoing blockade of Qatar by a Saudi-led group of countries is "futile", the Qatari emir has said, warning that the months-long crisis is undermining the region's security and economic outlook.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in June 2017 and imposed a land, sea and air embargo, accusing it of supporting "terrorism". Doha has repeatedly denied the allegation.

"It has been a futile crisis, manufactured by our neighbours," Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani told a major security conference held in Germany on Friday.

"By defusing the impact of the illegal and aggressive measures imposed on our people, Qatar has preserved its sovereignty," he said.

"Those aggressive actors wish to use smaller states as pawns within their power games and sectarian conflicts."

Despite the measures against it, Qatar has developed new international trade routes and accelerated economic diversity, Sheikh Tamim added.

Middle East security

Sheikh Tamim also called for a comprehensive security settlement in the Middle East, saying the region must be brought back from the brink of disaster.

Earlier on Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of a "mess" in the Middle East.

"The Middle East ... [has] a number of different faultiness that are crossing each other and interconnected," Guterres said during his address to the conference, pointing to ongoing tensions between Israel and Palestine, Sunni and Shia Muslims and the Gulf crisis.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Saudi Arabia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir are all expected to address delegates during the annual-three day security conference.

An open discussion on the current political tensions in the Gulf region is also scheduled to be held on Sunday.

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