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GDN Reader's View: Thanks but no thanks

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor

It appears that US President Donald Trump’s invitation to Gulf heads of state to his Camp David retreat to resolve differences between Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain with neighbouring Qatar is now offered with preconditions. “No breakthrough in the Qatar crisis, no Camp David” writes Associated Press’ Josh Lederman.

The message from the White House is both sides need to be on speaking terms before being permitted to enjoy US hospitality at Camp David amid the Maryland Mountains. This has echoes of my schooldays when my squabbling classmates could expect a smack from their teacher. How dare you treat us like third graders, Mr Trump!

On Saturday, reports suggested he is sending two envoys to the Arabian Gulf region presumably to exert some arm-twisting.

The kingdom and its Gulf allies are keen to maintain good relations with their staunchest Western ally, the US, but our leaders should not allow themselves to be held over a barrel or sacrifice their principles to satisfy US regional interests.

Qatar knows full well what it needs to do to be welcomed back into the fold but thus far has made no moves to disassociate itself from known radical individuals, groups and terrorist-supporting charities, despite the White House’s assertions to the contrary absent of any evidence.

Furthermore, not only has Qatar dismissed the quartet’s request to close the Muslim Brotherhood’s mouthpiece Al Jazeera, the network’s vitriolic coverage of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt has been ramped-up.

Adding salt to the wound, Doha now colludes with our number one enemy, the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as an ever more belligerent Turkey which is pushing to gain a military foothold in the Middle East – and already has its foot in the door of Qatar, Sudan and Syria.

I have always said that I consider this rift a family affair which can only be resolved by the concerned parties. I am strongly opposed to interference from the US or any other nation bent on serving its own interests.

Ultimately, the ball is in Doha’s court. It is out of step with its neighbours on many fronts and if it wants to be treated as a brotherly nation, which it once was, the solution rests in the hands of the Amir, Shaikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

I would urge the kingdom to consult with the Emirates, Bahrain and friendly Gulf countries on a unified response to Trump’s ‘mediation’ that is as one-sided as his ‘mediation’ of the Israel-Palestine conflict. We must be strong. We must trust one another.

My preference would be ‘thanks, but no thanks’. Right now, going to Camp David would be akin to walking into a lion’s den. Remember when Obama invited all GCC heads of state to Camp David following his deal with the Iranian devil, only the Amirs of Qatar and Kuwait accepted. Trump should be treated similarly.

Personally, I look forward to the day when bridges are mended. Our people have always been close.

We share cultural and tribal roots. Many of my friends are Qataris and I take this opportunity of assuring our brothers and sisters in Qatar that we have no dispute with you.

The sooner normality reigns, the better for all, but this must be done in our own time and on our own terms.

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