Qatar Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah says the Arab Spring will lead to democracy in the Middle East within 10 years as the region consolidates itself, it was reported.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Munich Conference on International Peace and Security, he also reportedly said the changes that began a little more than three years ago would eventually see the region’s political landscape change.
The comments came on the same day a diplomatic incident flared between the UAE and Qatar over comments by a Qatari cleric broadcast on Doha television which the UAE said were an insult against it.
It reflects growing splits between the two members of the Western-allied Gulf Cooperation Council in their approach to Islamists emboldened by the 2011 "Arab Spring" protests that forced four heads of state from power. While Qatar has sided with Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the UAE has taken the opposite tack, cracking down on Islamists at home and supporting Egypt's military-backed administration.
Al Attiyah said at the conference that Qatar had always been optimistic about positive changes resulting from the Arab Spring and it would come to its logical end, The Peninsula Qatar newspaper reported.
“And that should take about a decade from now to happen,” he was quoted as saying.
He said in the coming 10 years when democracy had deepened its roots in the Middle East, the region would emerge as one of the influential blocks in the world.
The changes would eventually see democracy prevail and consolidate itself in the Middle East, he said. “We are seeing the outcome of the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Yemen,” he said.
The minister took part in a debate on the “Future of the Middle East”, along with Abdul Latif Al Zayani, Secretary-General of the GCC, Turki Al Faisal, head of King Faisal Research and Islamic Studies Center in Saudi Arabia, US Senator John McCain, and Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Answering a question about the Arab Gulf region and whether changes were taking place in Qatar as well, Al Attiyah said the social fabric of Gulf societies was such that it was protecting the region from harm.
Responding to a question about Iran and its nuclear program, Al Attiyah said Qatar wanted a peaceful solution. “Qatar is Iran’s neighbour,” he reportedly said.
He rejected a suggestion that Qatar supported extremists.
“Who is an extremist in Syria: those who are using dangerous weapons against their own people or those who are trying to defend the innocent, including pregnant women, the elderly people and children?” he responded.
Referring to an international report on genocide in Syria, Al Attiyah wondered why the world was silent on the issue.
He said it was important to show there was a community in the world siding with justice and dealing with the people neutrally and in a fair manner.