Qatar Foreign Minister: We will never surrender to demands

Doha’s foreign minister strikes a defiant tone, rejecting intervention in Qatar’s affairs by Gulf neighbors. Qatar’s foreign minister has rejected interference in his country’s foreign policy, ruling out a military solution to a crisis which has seen Riyadh and its allies cut ties with Doha.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani struck a defiant tone on Thursday, after a Saudi-led alliance blockade three days after neighboring states launched a blockade on Doha by air, land and sea.

“No one has the right to intervene in our foreign policy. We will will never be ready to surrender the independence of our foreign policy,” Sheikh Mohammed told reporters in Doha.

“We have been isolated because we are successful and progressive. We are a platform for peace not terrorism… This dispute is threatening the stability of the entire region,” he said.

The foreign minister said Qatar had not yet been handed demands by countries which cut off ties with Doha, but he insisted the ongoing crisis would be solved by peacefully.

“We don’t see a military solution as an option,” he said, adding that Qatar would not shut down its Al Jazeera news network.

Sheikh Mohammed also said Qatar’s ruling emir will not leave the country while it is “in blockade” to attend a meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House to end the crisis.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain lead a string of countries that this week cut ties with Qatar over what they say is the emirate’s financing of extremist groups and its ties to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional arch-rival.

Qatar denies having any ties to extremists.

The four Arab countries have suspended all flights to and from Doha and closed off sea and air links to Qatar.

Saudi Arabia has also closed off Qatar’s only land border, a crucial lifeline for food imports.

Sheikh Mohammed said Qatar could survive “forever”, adding that it respected international agreements and would continue supplying liquefied natural gas to the UAE.

Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of natural liquefied gas.

Analysts say the crisis is in part an extension of a pre-existing dispute which saw Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain temporarily recall their ambassadors from Doha in 2014 over alleged Qatari support for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.