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Qatar Defence Minster: Blockading countries are ‘harming their own interests’

Qatar’s Defence Minister Khalid Bin Mohammad Al Attiyah
Qatar’s Defence Minister Khalid Bin Mohammad Al Attiyah. [File photo]

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain are “harming their own interests”, Qatar’s Defence Minister Dr Khalid bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah told audiences at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) yesterday.

Speaking at the world’s oldest independent think tank on international defence and security, Al-Attiyah discussed the pressing security issues for Qatar, the wider region and relations with the United Kingdom.

Dr Al-Attiyah also offered his thoughts on defence relations between the two countries, including the recent sale of 24 Typhoon jets to Qatar and the establishment of a new squadron for joint UK-Qatar air force training.

During his conversation at RUSI, Al-Attiyah said that Qatar had “provided operational and technical support to our allies and [we have] taken the fight beyond the battlefield and into education in the fight against terrorism”.

Read: Qatar seeks arbitration to end Saudi-led blockade

Al-Attiyah denied that Qatari jets had intercepted UAE flights saying that the story was “false”, before going on to encourage the West and the US to “think out of the box, and outside of our own narrow interests”.

Concerning the situation of the blockade he said: “The Quartet [Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain] should realise what they are doing is harming their own interests as well”.

The conversation on defence by Al-Attiyah at RUSI came on the back of new security agreements between NATO and Qatar, with the former confirming on Tuesday that “the State of Qatar signed a security agreement with NATO at the Alliance’s Headquarters in Brussels”.

Read: Qatar-Turkey trade grows by 30 per cent since Gulf crisis

In their statement announcing the deal, NATO said that during the signing ceremony between Brigadier General Tariq Khalid M. F. Alobaidli, Head of the International Military Cooperation Department, Armed Forces of the State of Qatar, and NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller, the representatives stressed the importance of NATO’s cooperation with Qatar in the framework of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI).

The ICI framework was launched in June 2004 and aims to contribute to long-term global and regional security by offering countries of the broader Middle East region practical bilateral security cooperation with NATO.

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