‘Qatar crisis does not deserve US attention’

Saudi official says there are far more important issues to tackle in Saudi-US discussions

Dubai: The Qatar crisis is not significant enough to be taken up in the Saudi-US discussions in Washington, Saudi Arabia’s deputy head of the General Intelligence has said.


“Saudi Arabia’s relations with the US are strategic and when we talk about strategy, we are discussing prosperity and the economy. There are several issues that are far more important the Qatari crisis. It does not deserve to be discussed at such levels in our meetings in the US,” Ahmad Asiri said in Paris where he attended a one-day forum on the aftermath of the fall of Daesh.

“The agreement between us and our friends in Washington is to continue working together to stabilise the region against terrorist and extremist groups and countries trying to export their ideas beyond their borders,” Asiri said, quoted by Saudi daily Okaz on Monday.

“There is a need to abide by international law, respect the security of states and not interfering in their domestic affairs.”

The Qatar crisis emerged in the open on June 5 when Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt severed their diplomatic commercial and travel relations with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremists and funding terrorism.

The Quartet issued a list of 13 demands to Qatar which rejected it, resulting in a standoff.

Kuwait has been exerting efforts to mediate between the two sides, but so far no breakthrough has been achieved.

Other countries, mainly the US, have also tried to bridge or narrow the gap between them.

Qatar has been pushing up the issue onto the international stage, but the Quartet has dismissed the Qatari attempts as futile and made it clear the solution was within the Gulf, adopting a policy of apparent detachment until Doha “came to its senses.”

Saudi officials have repeatedly said that they would not get engaged in the crisis-related polemics, explaining that it did not hold a major importance for Saudi Arabia and that they preferred to attend to other matters that were far more significant.

Earlier, this month Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman told Egyptian media the Qatar issue was “very trivial” and that the entire population of Qatar was less than the number of people on one avenue in Egypt.

Last month, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said the situation in Qatar was minor compared to other crucial regional crises.

“All we want is for them to leave us alone and to stop using their media platforms as means to incite hatred,” he said.

In October, he made similar remarks at Chatham House, saying that the situation with Qatar was a “non-issue, a small issue” and that there were “other matters to focus on.”

An adviser at the Royal Court, Saud Al Qahtani, confirmed the Saudi approach.

“I will divulge a secret: The person in charge of the Qatar issue is a dear colleague at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs whose rank is Grade 12. The Qatar matter was referred to him in addition to his usual assignments,” he posted on his Twitter account.

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