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Tribune News Network
Tampa (Florida)
The countries boycotting Qatar ” Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain ” are carrying out a plan to mislead the US about the roots of terrorism, Qatar's Ambassador to the US HE Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad al Thani has said.
Sheikh Meshal, who visited Tampa this week for a meeting with the US Central Command commander Army Gen Joseph Votel, said the aim of the unjust blockade by the Arab quartet was to divert attention from them.
In an interview with Tampa Bay Times, Sheikh Meshal said his main message for the US President Donald Trump and the American people is that Qatar remains a strong ally of America and a reliable partner in the fight against terrorism.
"Qatar is fulfilling an agreement with the US in a prisoner swap that led to the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who faces court-martial on a charge of desertion after walking away from his base in Afghanistan and spending five years in militant captivity," he added.
On Trump's tweets about Qatar, he said,"Qatar has not been approached by the blockading countries at any time to raise any concerns. In my view, what happened is that these blockading countries have misled the US, have misinformed leadership here in the US, but we can see very quickly that the US immediately understood what's going on. And I think the message to all the blockading countries is that de-escalation is important."
When asked whether the blockading countries were emboldened by Trump seemingly siding with them, the ambassador said,"I am convinced that this was a plan in the making and they have misled the US. And I underscore this. They have misled by providing false information about Qatar. Specifically they talk about terrorism. I think the track record of Qatar is very clean. I think it is also very important that they talk about their track record. We know where most of the banks are located who undermine the US sanctions in Iran. The UAE was a concern in State Department reports that it is a country of concern when it comes to money laundering."
On 9/11 attacks, he said,"Where did those hijackers come from and who were they financed by? And also where they came from exactly ” Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Egypt. I think it is very important to remind your readers that Qatar in the past stood by the US when the Saudis asked the US to leave Saudi Arabia."
On the blockade, he said,"The biggest effect we see is the humanitarian aspect. We have about 13,000 complaints and these pertain to family separations, where mothers were forced to leave their kids, people lost their jobs, because of this. Jail, because of the laws they have enacted, sympathy laws, you know if you are sympathizing with Qatar you get 15 years in jail. So our primary focus is to make sure that we have a solution to that humanitarian aspect. And we are hopeful some breakthrough will come on that."
"I think all the parties involved (in the crisis) understand the importance of resolving this. And don't forget, it is very important, the whole Gulf Cooperation Council is one family. There is intermarriage, there are families and I don't think this is going to be something really accepted by the people to go to war against your cousins and your brothers, so this has never been in our minds. So at least that's our perspective in Qatar. I think I can say I am sure it is in the others too," he added.
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