Qatar: Iran is our only lifeline to the world 

February 3, 2018

Qatar’s defense minister has defended Doha’s ties with Iran, citing strategic concerns.

“Iran is the only airspace we have,” Mohammad al-Attiyah said in an interview with the Washington Post published on Thursday. 

Following is the summary of the defense minister’s interview with the Washington Post:

Q: Didn’t the recent dispute between Qatar, on one side, and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, on the other, begin when the UAE reportedly hacked into your country’s computers and put out a false report that your emir had made a pro-Iran statement?

A: The beginning was an ambush. The only thing is, I don’t think they calculated right. They thought they could strike hard and bend the Qatari people. But the people showed solidarity and became more resilient. We enhanced our bilateral relations all over the world. So, you may say that the plan failed. All their 13 demands.

Q: The administration wants to contain Iran and fight ISIL [another name for the Islamic State]. Reportedly, they find this dispute a distraction.

A: This is exactly the picture. If you want to have a sincere dialogue with Iran where both parties lay down their concerns and try to come to an understanding of the region ... the best way is to sit and talk.

Q: Isn’t the administration concerned with Iran’s military activities outside its borders?

A: Absolutely. But how do we address this issue? There is the hard way, which will be a disaster, and then there is engagement and dialogue, which we always encourage.

Q: Your country shares a gas field with Iran. Do you have to have friendly relations with Tehran?

A: We have to have friendly relations with everyone. We are responsible for the supply of [an enormous amount] of the world’s energy. We have to have a smooth flow of energy, and that means we have to eliminate having enemies.

Q: Because of the boycott against Qatar, you’ve had to import much of your country’s food from other countries via Iran’s airspace, right?

A: Yes. Iran is the only airspace we have — they blocked everything else. Iran gave us a sea line so we could get our food — some of it comes from Azerbaijan, Turkey or Europe.


SP/PA
 

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