World News

Qatar emir says Gulf blockade a ‘futile crisis,’ calls for unity in Middle East

Key Points
  • Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said the Gulf blockade has been "futile."
  • Al Thani called for more cooperation and agreement between Arab states.
Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani
Fayez Nureldine | AFP | Getty Images

Qatar has "preserved its sovereignty" following a "futile" diplomatic crisis that befell the country in 2017, the emir of the Gulf state said Friday.

Several countries led by Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar in June last year, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a blockade on their neighboring Middle Eastern country, closing their land, sea and air borders with Qatar.

"It has been a futile crisis manufactured by our neighbors, some of whom are major regional players, once believed to be stabilizing factors on the world stage," Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said in a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

Qatar's emir added: "By diffusing the impact of the illegal and aggressive measures imposed on our people, Qatar preserved its sovereignty. This failed blockade shows how small states can use diplomacy and strategic economic planning to weather the storms of aggression from larger, ambitious neighbors."

Al Thani called for more cooperation and agreement between Arab states, and said nations in the Middle East should promote a flow of humanitarian aid between the region, access to religious sites for all faiths and the prevention of "desecration" of historic and religious sites.

"The Middle East is at the brink… it is time to bring it back. All of us here, especially those who enjoy more power and wealth, have a responsibility to solve the conflict. The Middle East will need help, from the larger international community, to succeed in such a mission."

The Gulf blockade had a deep short-term impact on Qatar, isolating it economically from its neighbors. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month called on the Saudi-led coalition to resolve its dispute with Qatar.