Riyadh : Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had intentions to invade Qatar at the beginning of a diplomatic crisis that erupted in June, according to Qatar’s defence minister.
In an interview with the Washington Post on Friday, Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah said his Gulf neighbours have “tried everything” to destabilise the country, but their intentions to invade were “[defused]” by Qatar.
“They have intentions to intervene militarily,” said al-Attiyah.
When asked to confirm whether he thought such a threat still existed today, he responded: “We have [defused] this intention. But at the beginning of the crisis, they had this intention.
“They tried to provoke the tribes. They used mosques against us. Then they tried to get some puppets to bring in and replace our leaders.”
Al-Attiyah, who met US Defense Secretary James Mattis last week during a visit to Washington, DC, described the beginning of the crisis by the Saudi-led bloc as an “ambush” that was “miscalculated”.
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt and Bahrain cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a land, sea and air blockade after accusing it of supporting “terrorism” and “extremism”.
Qatar has strongly denied the allegations.
Al-Attiyah said Qatar is the only country that has signed a memorandum of understanding with the US to counter terrorism in the region – namely in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.
He stressed the need for open dialogue as a means to end the ongoing crisis.
Asked about Doha’s relations with Saudi’s rival, Iran, al-Attiyah noted that Qatar maintains “friendly relations with everyone”.