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Qatari opposition backs royal family member's call for national meeting on Gulf crisis

Ahram Online , Monday 18 Sep 2017
King Salman and Qatar
File Photo: King Salman welcomes Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali bin Jassem Al Thani in August 2017 (Photo courtesy of Saudi Press Agency)
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Qatari opposition activist Khaled Al-Heil has welcomed a recent call by Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani, a prominent member of the Qatari royal family, in which he urged Qataris to be “messengers of peace” in the dispute with the country’s Gulf neighbours and to have a "national meeting" to discuss the issue.
 
Al-Heil added, in statements to Al-Arabiya news channel on Sunday, that Al-Thani is offering “a correctional course” long-awaited by the Qatari people to ease the crisis, and that his message had been accepted by many Qataris.
 
In June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed a trade and travel boycott on the country, accusing Doha of financing terrorist groups and of interfering in its neighbours’ internal affairs. Qatar has denied the accusations.
 
Al-Thani on Sunday called on "the members of the [royal] family and the wise people of Qatar to meet as messengers of wisdom and peace, to discuss the crisis and to put an end to the dispute, with the aim of strengthening the unity of the Arab Gulf.”
 
He said he felt pain seeing the dispute go from bad to worse, and he called on the people of Qatar to communicate with him and set a date for a national meeting to address the crisis.
 
He also said that King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who he had met with in Morocco last month, was committed to the safety of Qatar and its people.
 
Sheikh Abdullah is a descendant of Qatar’s founder and the son of the country's fourth emir, Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah Al-Thani, who abdicated in 1960.
 
He met with King Salman in Morocco last month, to discuss facilitating Qatari nationals who wished to carry out the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
 
Following the meeting, the Saudi transport ministry said that the Salwa border crossing with Qatar would be opened for Qataris who are performing the annual pilgrimage, which took place earlier this month. Those who crossed were then flown to Jeddah at King Salman's expense.
 
A number of Qatari opposition figures gathered in London last week for a conference on "the future of Qatar" organised by Al-Heil.
 
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