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Saudis want to topple Qatari regime, says emir

31 October 2017

In an interview that sparked a backlash around the region, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said he feared that a deepening crisis in the region may escalate into armed conflict.

Qatar's emir said that any military act against his country by the Arab anti-terrorism quartet would end up in chaos. He said that "History as well tells us, teaches us, they tried to do that before, in 1996 after my father became the emir".

For his part, Sheikh Tamim said Doha and Washington had "a very strong relationship" - Qatar is home to the largest USA military base in the Middle East.

He further said, "We want freedom of speech for the people of the region and they're not happy with that, and so they think that this is a threat to them".

Qatar in July signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States to increase cooperation on fighting terrorism finance and was one of six Gulf nations last week to announce sanctions on 13 individuals said to be al Qaeda and Islamic State militants. "But nothing is going to be above our dignity, our sovereignty", Sheikh Tamim told 60 Minutes.

The Qatari emir says that the USA president has offered to hold a meeting at his retreat in Camp David to put an end to the Gulf diplomatic crisis. "I told him straight away, "Mr President we are very ready, I've been asking for dialogue from day one'". If they going to walk one meter toward me, I'm willing to walk 10,000 miles towards them".

"It was a shock", said Sheikh Tamim, referring to the blockade.

When asked by host Charlie Rose about the blockading countries' reaction, the emir replied: "It was supposed to be very soon, this meeting, but I don't have any responses".

Earlier in September, Saudi Arabia suspended any dialogue with Qatar, accusing it of "distorting facts", just after a report of a phone call between the leaders of the two countries suggested a possible breakthrough in the dispute.

This was the first public statement from the emir since this crisis began in June this year.

There has been no further contact reported since then.

"The right step to protect the GCC is to freeze Qatar's membership until it comes to its senses", Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa wrote on Twitter. "If the situation remained as it is we won't attend this summit".

They were invited by Bahrain information Minister Ali bin Mohammed Al Rumaihi to resume the talks that was started in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, concerning Qatar's terrorism.

"We're not going to shut down al-Jazeera".

Qatar insisted it would not agree to any measures that threatened its sovereignty or violated worldwide law.