Qatari Foreign Minister Al-Thani Calls Out Saudis Over Khashoggi

(Bloomberg) -- Qatar’s foreign minister said Saudi Arabia needs to answer for the killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an episode that’s provided the emirate a rare chance to strike back against a larger neighbor that has kept it under an economic and travel blockade for more than a year.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Friday, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Thani also called out Saudi Arabia for its war in Yemen, which the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

“All these things happening are really, you don’t expect it from a country that has such a weight like Saudi Arabia,” Al-Thani said. “‘We hope that they will be back as a wise country. The world is seeing this behavior so we cannot talk more about it, it talks about itself.”

Qatar has been under Saudi pressure since the middle of 2017, when the kingdom led a bloc of allied nations in cutting off ties to the gulf emirate over alleged involvement in sponsoring terrorism. The move put the U.S. -- a close ally of both Qatar and Saudi Arabia -- in an awkward position, complicated further by Qatar’s relationship with Iran, which the Trump administration has sought to isolate.

Engaging With Iran

Al-Thani called Friday for regional engagement with Iran and dismissed sanctions as ineffective. Trump reimposed sanctions after abandoning the 2015 nuclear accord that world powers reached with the Islamic Republic.
The Khashoggi killing has put a spotlight on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler. A number of world leaders at the Group of 20 meeting in Argentina this week have distanced themselves from Prince Mohammed, but some -- including Russian President Vladimir Putin -- have signaled they are willing to talk.

Asked about Khashoggi’s death at the hands of Saudi officials in Istanbul last month, Al-Thani said, “There is a crime and the world needs an answer for this.” He added, “We want to see anyone who was responsible of any part of this, any subversive, held accountable.”

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