Qatar’s ambassador to Turkey has dismissed fears about defense relations between Doha and Ankara amid a Gulf crisis.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Salem bin Mubarak said Qatar can survive a blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain.
“There is no reason to be afraid of our defense relations with Turkey,” the envoy said.
“No one has the right to meddle in or comment on our relations,” he stressed. “This is a sovereign issue and there is no need to make a fuss about it.”
Qatar has been reeling under a blockade imposed last month by the four countries and Yemen, who accuse Doha of interfering in their domestic affairs and supporting terror groups.
The Qatari government has strongly rejected the accusations and stressed the blockade is a violation of international law.
Turkey has vowed to stand by Qatar and called on Saudi Arabia to end all sanctions.
Last month, Turkey’s parliament ratified two deals on deploying troops to Qatar and training its army.
The Qatari diplomat dismissed calls by the four countries for Doha to close the Turkish base in Qatar as “illogical”.
“Though the defense expenses of some countries equal that of a nuclear power, they are incapable of dealing with some issues that threaten their security alone and seek the help of allies,” he said.
“They [blockade countries], however, want us to cut our defense ties with Turkey, which is not logical,” he said.
The envoy said Qatar has defense cooperation with some countries in the region and around the world.
“We don’t see any reason that prevents us from having defense cooperation with Turkey,” he said. “On the contrary, circumstances in the region dictate us to cooperate intensively and effectively in this regard.”
The ambassador went on to describe his country’s defense cooperation with Turkey as “very good”.
“The two countries are looking to bolstering this cooperation,” he said.
Bin Mubarak said cooperation between Qatar and other friendly states “aim to develop Qatar’s capabilities” with a view to “maintaining national security and fighting terrorism”.
“This all serve security and stability of our country and the region,” he said.
The Qatari envoy described the U.S. position at the start of the Gulf crisis as “confused”.
“This position, however, is becoming balanced,” he said. “Washington now rejects the measures taken by the blockade states and wants them to present realistic and reasonable demands.”
The diplomat went on to describe Qatari-U.S. relations as “strong and able to stand in the face of challenges”.
Qatar is home to the sprawling al-Udeid Air Base, which houses U.S. Central Command, and the U.S. Air Forces Central Command. Roughly 10,000 U.S. troops are stationed at the al-Udeid Air Base.
The Qatari envoy believes that the blockade aims to impose guardianship on Qatar.
“We, like other countries, are confused about the real reason that prompted the blockade states to create this crisis,” he said.
“There are many claims in the media, but all are contradictory,” he said.
Bin Mubarak said that Qatar can survive the blockade imposed by the four Arab countries.
The blockade “has taught the Qataris the importance of diversifying our trade, economic and political relations,” he said.
He opined that the crisis has tarnished the image of the blockade states in the first place.
“It has also derailed efforts to fight terrorism and extremism in the region and is dragging us into internal battles that only serve the enemies,” he said.
The envoy said Qatar “has won the moral and diplomatic battle” against the blockade countries.
“Now, they are looking for new tools for escalations and threats in violation of international law.”