Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs says alliances have enabled Qatar to overcome challenges – and the nation will “never be intimidated”
Qatar has marked “1,000 days of victory rather than 1,000 days of a blockade”, His Excellency Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, the nation’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs, has told an audience at Qatar Foundation.
Speaking at Georgetown University in Qatar tonight, he spoke of how the friendships and alliances Qatar has formed with the world enabled it to overcome the challenges created by the blockade of the nation by its neighbors less than 72 hours after it was imposed in June 2017.
And he reiterated that Qatar is willing to talk to the blockading countries if they “take a positive step toward us” – but that the country will “never be intimidated”.
During his talk at the Qatar Foundation partner university, titled Small State Security Dialogue: Qatar and the Lessons of a 1,000 Day Blockade, His Excellency Dr. Khalid Al Attiyah said: “Less than 72 hours [after the imposition of the blockade], we had friends sending us goods from all over the world – the Far East, North America – and this is only because of our alliances and the vision of our leadership to reach out and build relations at an early stage.
“Our resilience and flexibility is the by-product of a great deal of work and effort dating back to 1995. When the blockade came, it was a shock to us, but because of our preparation and the wisdom of our leadership, we started making ourselves ready at an early stage to face any crisis.
“The blockade did not only affect the region; it affected the world. Qatar meets 30 percent of the world’s natural gas needs, and we proved to our friends and allies that, even with the situation we faced, we still fulfil our obligations. We did not even cut the flow of natural gas to the blockading countries because we looked at the humanitarian perspective – the people in schools and hospitals who need the energy we produce.
“It is this commitment that makes us resilient and enables us to find our way through challenges.”
His Excellency Dr. Khalid Al Attiyah told the audience that, with 1,000 days to go before Qatar stages the 2022 World Cup: “We don’t have time to look over our shoulder – we are looking ahead.
“If you enlighten your people, you can be ready to face any threat. Soft power does not mean having media outlets; it means having 360-degree soft power, and you gain this through ensuring your people have the best education, involving them in your decisions. This makes a country immune, because your people are the nation and your nation is the people.”
Asked about how Qatar and the blockading countries might find mutual ground that would enable an end to the embargo, he said: “I point to what His Highness the Amir has said: we are open for discussion, we are here, and any positive step toward us will be met with two positive steps by us.
“If there is discussion or negotiation without any conditions, we are ready and happy to participate in it. If somebody climbs a tree and does not know how to come down, and they call for help, we may give them a ladder. But we will never submit to intimidation.”
During his talk, His Excellency Dr. Khalid Al Attiyah also spoke of his view that the GCC “will not be what we know today” if alliances are “built on necessity rather than solid ground and shared principles”; and that the blockading countries underestimated the strength of Qatar’s relationship with the US when the embargo was imposed in 2017.
“The US is a friend and strategic ally of Qatar,” he said. “We have excellent defense relations, and excellent relations with the US State Department, with its Congress, and with the White House. This was one of the elements that meant the blockading countries’ plan to make Qatar submit to their demands failed.”