The Qatari official spoke about Iran’s ties to the GCC and the rights of Afghan women.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani has called for the need to address Lebanon’s political divide to resolve its decades-long crises. It came during an interview with Newsweek’s podcast, The Diplomat, recorded when Sheikh Mohammed was in DC last month.
Asked about Lebanon’s socio-economic turmoil, the Qatari official said sectarianism has largely contributed to the current state of the country.
“Unfortunately, the Lebanese people are under strong political pressure from their own political leaders. That’s what ultimately resulted with what we’ve seen now with these splits.
Qatar reinforces firm refusal to normalize with Israel
The Qatari diplomat also pointed out how foreign intervention has confounded divisions in Lebanon. “[Lebanon] became increasingly subject to resupply by foreign forces. It is not useful and the only part that suffers is the Lebanese people,” he said.
Lebanon has become an arena where the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran has been played out, with Riyadh backing some Sunni and Maronite groups and Tehran backing the Shiite Hezbollah movement.
In 2017, this foreign interference became more evident than ever when then-Prime Minister Saad Hariri was summoned to Saudi Arabia and reportedly forced to resign.
Speaking about efforts to find a diplomatic solution in Lebanon, Sheikh Mohammed said the sectarian system remains a burden. “We see some of the political leaders eager to change, but unfortunately there is something in the system that is holding everyone back.”
The Qatari official believes that the only viable solution to the country’s crises is real political reform and a national system.
“The only solution for Lebanon is to have a real political reform and to form a system that is a national system, that does not qualify people according to their sect or their origin. But based on their actual professional qualifications.
Lebanon is made up of various social segments including Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Druze, Maronites, and other sects of Christianity. In 1975, various engaged in a bloody civil war that lasted 15 years. Although it ended, its vestiges persisted, with Lebanese officials continue to serve their own interests. In 2019, mass protests erupted in Lebanon against the lack of basic resources. People repeated the words “everything means everything” (kellon ya’ani kellon), calling on the leaders to stand down. The situation in the country has deteriorated since the Covid-19 epidemic and the tragic explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020.
The Lebanese currency has been hit hard since 2019 and Lebanese have been unable to access their money in banks. Beirut is also grappling with an electricity crisis, with most neighborhoods receiving two hours of power a day. On Tuesday, the Lebanese government approved $18 million to hold legislative elections in May, the first since the protests.
Qatar has previously pledged to help the country once it forms a new government.
Commenting on the talks aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal, Sheikh Mohammed said the only option was to strike a deal with Iran. “We don’t want to see a nuclear arms race happening near us, near our country. He added that Qatar was in favor of a peaceful nuclear program.
Talks to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) began in April last year. Although they have resumed following the election of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, they have yet to achieve a major breakthrough. Responding to a question on the Iran-GCC dialogue, Qatar’s foreign minister expressed the importance of holding direct talks.
“As the Gulf countries have concerns about Iran, the Iranians themselves have their own concerns about the Gulf countries. So we have to address their concerns diplomatically and we We’ve been asking for it for years.”
Taliban delegation to Qatar for talks with GCC and EU officials
Since the signing of the Al-Ula agreement after the three-year GCC crisis, Qatar has offered to mediate between the UAE and Iran. He made the same offer regarding Riyadh and Tehran. Both the United Arab Emirates and Riyadh have held talks with Iranian officials in recent months. It was seen as a milestone after years of feuding.
Qatar has long expressed its position in resolving conflicts through diplomacy.
Qatar’s foreign minister said he continues to ensure Afghanistan remains stable after the Taliban seizes power.
“We don’t want to see Afghanistan go backwards, we don’t want to see the achievements of the past 20 years reversed,” he said.
The Gulf state has encouraged dialogue between the United States, the EU and the Afghan interim government. He repeatedly called on the international community not to isolate Afghanistan because of its disagreement with the Taliban. Sheikh Mohammed said they have yet to see major progress on the Taliban’s promises on women’s rights.
“We have seen some small steps, which are not that big, but we continue to push the Taliban to do more and ensure that women are allowed to return to their workplaces and lead their lives as normal.” He said the situation regarding women’s rights is caused by the Taliban regime and socio-economic factors.
“We have mainly seen people living in cities, but we should also not overlook the fact that a large part of the Afghan population lives in villages and remote areas that still maintain the same customs and culture.” , did he declare.
“I think a country that’s been at war for 20 years, it’s hard to tackle just one social issue for them and not be able to be helpful in all the other issues,” Sheikh added. Mohammed.
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