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UAE official: ‘Is it unreasonable to ask Qataris to stop funding terrorism?’

Published: Updated:

UAE ambassador to Russia, Omar Ghobash, answered several significant queries that pertains to the Qatar crisis on the American CNN program "Connect the World."

Show host Becky Anderson asked Ghobash about the concerns of the international community with regard to the list of demands submitted to Qatar by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.

Anderson requested proof of Qatar’s involvement in supporting extremism and terrorism to which the UAE ambassador responded: “if you take simply the list of individuals and entities that we have jointly came out with, there is a list of 59 individuals and 12 organizations - all accused of terrorism and extremism. These are people and entities that are based in Qatar, they walk freely and are described initially as guests of the government.”

He added that “these are people who are listed as terrorists by the US, EU and the UN - really what further evidence do you need, surely that is enough at this stage.”

In response to the UN criticism over the demand to shut down Al Jazeera, Qatar’s prized news network, Ghobash said: “The demand isn’t likely to be withdrawn…it isn’t a question of freedom of speech. We know the Qatari government itself doesn’t support freedom of speech on its own territory.”

Anderson asked Ghobash about designating The Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group while the UK, US and Qataris regard them as a political movement to which he responded: “The Muslim Brotherhood has a particular history in our region. It is regarded as a terrorist organization by various governments in the region and outside. For example, Russia proceeded by labeling them a terrorist organization in 2006 … it is a cult-like organization that still revers idols like Sayed Qotb who is the father of terrorist violence in our region.”

“We are much acquainted with their tools, than the British government, I would say,” he added.

When asked about his best guess regarding the next action that will follow should the Qataris not concede to what they consider “completely unreasonable demands,” Ghobash said: “My guess is that you would see no reaction whatsoever and we will all sit and think about the appropriate next steps.”

The UAE ambassador said: “Our hope is that they would come to the table and say look, we have agreed to a certain set of principles in 2014. The ruler of Qatar signed that agreement acknowledging that there were errors in the past. That Al Jazeera had supported extremism, that the Qatari government had supported extremist movements and they are going to take a step back.”

Ghobash acknowledged international support to the four countries’ demands against Qatar: “US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is the leading global diplomat, we do appreciate the US attempts to mediate and find a solution to this problem.”

“We also think that we have got a lot of support simply on the basis that we are fighting extremism. This is something that has been demanded of the region and this is the first time that you see collective action against one of our own,” he said.

“It’s an extremely important turning point in our region; the world should know about it,” Ghobash wrapped up the interview.