Measures taken by the United Arab Emirates and other nations against Qatar are aimed at pressuring Doha into changing its policies, not at overthrowing its regime, a senior UAE official said today. “We have now reached a cul-de-sac in terms of trying to convince Qatar to change course,” UAE state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said in an interview, accusing Qatar of being “the main champion of extremism and terrorism in the region”. “This is not about regime change — this is about change of policy, change of approach,” Gargash said. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain are among seven states that have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, a gas-rich emirate at the Saudi border.
The Arab states accuse Qatar of supporting extremism, a charge Doha firmly denies. Gargash said the crisis was the result of “an accumulation over many, many years of subversive Qatari politics and support for extremism and terrorist organisations”. Qatar has forged regional alliances independently of its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council states, drawing accusation by Saudi Arabia and its allies of serving Iranian interests. The country is home to a number of high-profile figures of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, both listed as terrorist organisations by the United States.