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Qatari dissident expresses intention to 'cleanse the country'

A Qatari dissident living in Saudi Arabia has expressed his desire to return to the country and "cleanse [it] of the ruling regime and its reckless policies." Sheikh Mubarak Bin Khalifa Al-Thani made his comments to the pro-Saudi Al-Sharq Al-Awsat from his home in Riyadh. He claimed that the people living in the gas-rich Gulf nation are living in fear due to the oppression of the government.

Mubarak Bin Khalifa Al-Thani is reported to have taken part in an opposition meeting in December that brought together more than twenty dissidents from within the ruling Al-Thani family. He said that several members have expressed their interest in joining efforts to "save" Qatar from the policies of the current government. "These figures are unhappy with the developments in the country and they fear for the safety of their sons and properties," he added.

Asked to assess the situation in Qatar seven months after the start of the diplomatic and economic boycott led by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, he replied, "None of the Qatari people are living comfortably." The dissident went on to complain about what he claims are deteriorating living conditions in Qatar and the "support of terrorism" by the country's ruling family. He alleged that the boycotting countries only have a problem with one person, the former Emir, Shaikh Hamad Al-Thani, who is accused of "operating behind his son".

Bin Khalifa vowed that opposition figures residing outside Qatar will return to their country at the first opportunity and "with the help of our noble brothers there… We will return to cleanse it of the regime that is working on creating division among Gulf countries."

Read: No end in sight for crisis with Qatar, says Saudi minister

The Qatari dissident expressed nothing but high praise for the Saudi Royal family. "As members of Qatar's ruling Al-Thani family residing outside of Qatar, we thank and hail the support and sponsorship of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman." In thanking the Saudis "for hosting us as brothers" he insisted that they have "saved" the dissidents from division.

Furthermore, Bin Khalifa declared that, "As members of the Al-Thani family, we are allied with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE in order to restore Qatar to the Gulf fold without Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani," His remarks will raise further speculation about the real intentions behind the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar. The government in Doha has accused Riyadh of wanting to engineer regime change in the country which critics say was averted only due to the swift response by its Turkish ally, which sent troops to Qatar.

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