The ongoing blockade against Qatar is “an assault against a sovereign state” and a form of terrorism, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said during his address to the United Nations General Assembly today.
His remarks come as Qatar faces a months-long blockade from its neighbors that has cost the government billions of dollars.
The Emir said the boycott of “neighboring countries” puts pressure on Qatar’s population “through foodstuffs, medicine and ripping of family relations.”
He added that the goal is “to force (people) to change their political affiliation and destabilize a sovereign country. Isn’t this one of the definitions of terrorism?”
At least twice during the speech, the Emir also called for a constructive dialogue between the Gulf countries and Iran to resolve the crisis.
The conditions he put forth included “the principle of good neighborliness, respect for the sovereignty of states and non-interference in their internal affairs.”
Responding to neighbors’ allegations that Qatar harbors terrorists, Sheikh Tamim also reiterated the country’s desire to combat extremism, calling it the “highest priority.”
He added however that the international community must be “careful not to make the fight against terrorism an umbrella for reprisals or shelling of civilians.”
This is the Emir’s fourth address in front of the assembly.
His first was shortly after he became leader of Qatar at 33 years old in 2013. The speech included talk of the Arab Spring and Qatar’s role in it.
At the time, Sheikh Tamim said the nation served as a “hub for dialogue and discussion for different parties and conflicts” during a transitional phase for the region.
The Emir reiterated that goal – which Qatar has been criticized for by its neighbors – once again during today’s address. He said:
“Qatar will remain, as always, a safe haven for the oppressed, and will continue its mediation efforts to find just solutions in conflict zones. “
In addition to the Gulf crisis, the Emir mentioned the plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar.
“Lately there is a growing sense that people under repression are facing their fate alone,” he said.
He also urged the international community to help struggling Palestinians, Yemenis and Syrians, as well as Iraqis and Libyans.