Fox News anchor Bret Baier sat down with Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani for an interview that aired on Tuesday night, regarding the escalating tensions in the Middle East and Qatar’s role in de-escalation efforts.
Throughout the interview, Al Thani refused to blame Iran for funding foreign terrorist groups like Hamas and the Houthis, remaining firm that Qatar was not in a position to play the blame game, but instead was focused on finding a solution to put closure on the situation in Gaza between Israel and Hamas before the war spreads across the region.
“One of our core principles in foreign policies is to find a way to mediate conflicts and to contain them not to escalate further,” Al Thani said, telling Baier his country has been part of peace talks for a while, whether it was with the Taliban and the U.S., Ukraine and Russia, and Hamas and Israel, among others. “Part of our foreign policy doctrine is to be able to talk to everyone in order to bridge the gaps.”
During the interview, Baier asked Al Thani about reports of a framework of a proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza and the return of hostages.
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The foreign minister explained that the process was still premature, and he did not want to offer promises, as more time and work was needed to secure a deal.
He said numbers of hostages being released were not defined, though in terms of categories, discussions are taking place to possibly release women, elderly and healthy people.
Along with speaking about the negotiations, Al Thani spoke about the relationship Qatar has with the U.S.
“The U.S. and Qatar relationship has been very strong, and we have this mutual trust between these two countries, this great alliance between the two countries, and we believe that this is helping in restoring regional stability,” he said. “So, we believe any country in our region who are able to bring some stability and peace, they have a role to play, and they should step up to that role.”
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Baier asked Al Thani about how Qatar viewed the events on Oct. 7, when Hamas-led terrorists invaded Israel.
The foreign minister said any atrocities committed against civilians are condemned, whether they are Israelis or Palestinians.
“Human beings are human beings, and we’ve been saying this repeatedly,” he said. “What happened on the 7th of October and the war afterward is just turning the entire region into inflammatory mode and this is something we need to contain.”
Al Thani said the focus should be to put an end to the war, get hostages back to their families and find a way to never have a similar conflict happen again.
But it can only happen one way, he said, which would be at a negotiation table.
“Military action will not get us the result we want,” he said.
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Over the weekend, three U.S. service members were killed by a drone strike in northeast Jordan, near the borders of Syria and Iraq, while over 165 attacks on U.S. troops have occurred in the region since Oct. 17.
Al Thani previously said he believed the situation in the Middle East is “dancing on the edge and ready to boil over,” and Baier asked what he meant by that.
“Since the war started in Gaza, we’ve been very much worried about the situation in the region because we understand the magnitude of the Palestinian issue over there,” he said, adding that he and other leaders in his country were worried that the conflict would spill over throughout the region, where there are several other forces that could try to exploit and escalate the situation.
Al Thani said Qatar expressed its condolences to the families who lost loved ones and the U.S. government, saying it was unacceptable.
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“But this is the result of dancing on the edge,” he said. “It was just enough throughout the last 100 and something days, trying to provoke here and there.”
When asked how much blame he puts directly on Tehran, Al Thani refused to place any blame on them.
“We are not here in a position to do the blame game,” he said. “Iran is our neighbor. We continue having open communication with them.”
The foreign minister said the two countries will continue to talk about encouraging all parties in the region to de-escalate and bring down the tensions, rather than escalate tensions.
A clip of former National Security Advisor Robert Bryant was shown to Al Thani, in which Bryant said groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and the Houthis, “wouldn’t shoot a BB gun without Iran’s approval.”
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Baier asked if he believed that to be true.
“I think it’s his opinion. Robert’s a great friend. I respect his opinion,” Al Thani said. “But this is something, it’s not for me to judge. I think that what we have to judge are the actions, and we have to stop them.”
Baier also brought up an article by the Jerusalem Post in which the publication wrote it was not clear if Iran’s enablers, Qatar and Turkey, or allies Russia and China, call the shots in Tehran or have any influence.
The article also said Iran declared it does not control the group, although it may encourage and support movements like the Houthi movement in Yemen.
Baier asked if Al Thani took issue with being considered an “enabler.”
“… Qatar is a next-door neighbor to Iran,” he said. “We share borders with them, we share a gas field with them, in fact, the largest gas field in the world, and our relationship is based on common interests and good neighborhood.”
He was also asked whether the U.S. should push back and retaliate against these attacks on U.S. troops, and whether it would be acceptable for the U.S. to strike back inside Iran.
Al Thani said Qatar fully respects what the U.S. decides to do and how it would manage the situation, but also said at this time, “cooler hands are needed.”
“We need to result to diplomacy and to try to contain the situation and focus on resolving the issue,” the foreign minister said.
He was asked again about the situation boiling over and if he was worried that the region was a tinderbox.
“The situation is very concerning and every day it’s getting more concerning,” Al Thani said. “Sometimes it’s a provocation that might end up becoming a major accident that triggers a bigger conflict, and that’s what we want to avoid. That’s why we need to focus on how to find a solution and put a closure on the situation in Gaza.”
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