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Qatar’s duplicitous charade has been exposed for all to see

This is one of the saddest days since the Gulf Cooperation Council was formed. I never imagined that a brotherly country, a neighbour with which we share ties of blood, would act against us behind the curtain by supporting terrorist groups, threatening us all while getting cosy with our adversary, Iran. The Qatari regime s loyalty to its GCC allies has long been questioned. The fact that it has been sheltering Muslim Brotherhood criminals languishing in five-star hotels and has close ties with Hamas, the Afghan Taliban and other terrorist groups is an open secret. The motives behind the Qatari government s ill treatment of its closest friends are not clear.

The Qatari leadership is known for talking out of both sides of its mouth, saying one thing and doing the opposite. The smiles and the warm diplomatic messages from that quarter were fakes designed to hide the country s double dealings. Doha s friendly posture towards Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain has been exposed as a duplicitous charade, which cannot be tolerated. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain do not seek confrontation. Our leaders are patient but also just, firm and strong when the safety of our people is at stake. We cannot forever blind our eyes and close our ears to the truth staring us in the face.

Qataris are good people, some of the finest I know. They share our culture and traditions. I do not believe they condone the behaviour of their ruler. They have been quietly oppressed and are afraid to air their true opinions. We do not wish to harm them in any way and look forward to a time when we can break bread with them again. I would appeal to my Qatari brothers and sisters not to take the severing of diplomatic relations with Doha by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain personally. We have been left with no choice. Egypt, Libya, Yemen, the Maldives and Mauritius are backing our stance. Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Manama and Cairo have closed air, sea and land transport links to Qatar “for the protection of national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”, said an official Saudi source.

Others have and will announce similar measures. We hope and trust that Kuwait and Oman will also do what is right. I expect certain western nations will join the boycott. Qatar s isolation will deplete its coffers. We have witnessed negative effects on the country s stock market and national airline. Unfortunately, Qataris will not be immune from inconvenience. I sincerely hope our separation will be short and what s happening is nothing more than a temporary family fall out. Qatar has always been part of our Gulf family and should remain so.

On a positive note, the beneficiaries of the regime s terrorist funding Hizbollah, the Houthis, Hamas, Jabhat Al Nusra, the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIL, Al Qaeda and others will suffer a loss of liquidity. There is no turning back unless Qatar can find a way to redeem itself. The regime of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa and his son Tamim cannot be trusted. Its promises are worthless. Sheikh Hamad s family has steered the country in the wrong direction and used its vast wealth for nefarious purposes. I believe Qataris are waking up to that indisputable reality. I am not in the business of telling the people of other nations how to react to their own governments that is for them to decide. I pray they make wise choices.

Qatar s foreign ministry has described the measures taken as “unjustified” and “based on claims and allegations with no basis in fact”. That statement whistles in the wind. There is a growing mountain of evidence that refutes such denials. I look forward to the recalibration of Qatar s foreign policy in accordance with that of all GCC member states so that we can have the confidence to mend relations with Doha in good faith. How that is achieved rests on Qatari shoulders but, in the meantime, the UAE and its Arab allies must do what they have to in order to protect their own people. Once all our countries around the Arabian Gulf are on the same page when it comes to battling the terrorist scourge and pushing back on Iran s expansionism, they will be the safest and most stable on earth.

Come back to us, Qatar. Come back to us as a loyal partner.

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor is the chairman of the Al Habtoor Group

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