Qatar backs out of anti-Iran Makkah statement, drawing criticism from regional players

UAE's Minister of Foreign Affairs says the move is the result of 'pressure on the weak'

This picture taken May 30, 2019 shows UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash (CL) and Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir (CR) pose for a family picture during the meeting of the Islamic and Arab Foreign Minister held in Jeddah ahead of the Guld, Arab, and Islamic summit to be held in Mecca on 30, 31 May 2019. / AFP / BANDAR ALDANDANI

Qatar's foreign minister on Sunday said Doha had reservations about outcomes from the Makkah summit it took part in last week, saying statements criticising Iran did not reflect its position and were not adopted using traditional procedures.

Qatar's dismissal of the Makkah summit drew criticism and confusion from regional states because Doha did not express any reservations at the emergency meeting last week.

Qatar, having sent its highest ranking official since the boycott by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain began two years ago, agreed to the final communique, officials said.

There was even speculation of a reconcilation on the cards.

But Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the Qatari Foreign Minister, told Al Jazeera on Sunday that the anti-Iran stance was reflective of Washington's policies and not aspirations of the region.

The UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, said turning back on what was assumed to be Qatar’s agreement with the Makkah communique was a sign of “pressure on the weak”.

“It seems to me that attending and agreeing in meetings and then retracting what was agreed upon could be a result of pressure on the weak lacking sovereignty or a lack of true intentions, or lack of credibility," Dr Gargash said.

"Or it could be all of these things combined."

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al Jubeir, said that Qatar was again muddling the messages.

“Qatar has dismissed today two statements – a statement that rejects Iranian influence in the regional affairs and a statement identifying the centrality of the Palestinian issue and the establishment of a Palestinian state in accordance to the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as it capital," Mr Al Jubeir said.

"Everyone know that Qatar’s distortion of the truth is unsurprising."

He said that retroactively rejecting decisions made at a summit after it concluded and after failing to make any rejections during the reading of a final communique or in negotiations was unorthodox.

“States that want to take a stance should do so while in the meetings and within the framework of the conference, not after the meetings have concluded,” Mr Al Jubeir said.

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Hamad said the retractions showed the weakness in relations between Qatar and the boycotting nations.

The three Gulf nations cut diplomatic relations with Qatar on June 5, 2017, over its support for extremists.

The attendance of Qatar’s prime minister provided a glimmer for an end to the two-year boycott.