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Saudi-led bloc 'bribed, blackmailed' African countries to join Qatar crisis, says Qatar FM

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates cut ties with Qatar [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 October, 2017

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A Saudi-led bloc boycotting Qatar has 'bribed and blackmailed' several African countries to join its attempt to isolate the country, Qatar's foreign minister has said.

A Saudi-led bloc boycotting Qatar has 'bribed and blackmailed' several African countries to join its attempt to isolate the country, Qatar's foreign minister has said.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani made the accusations in French-language news magazine Jeune Afrique in a report published last week.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates cut ties with Qatar in June, accusing Qatar of backing extremism and fostering ties with Iran - charges that Doha denies.

A dozen other African and Asian countries, heavily dependent on financial aid from the Saudi-led bloc, have followed suit either downgrading or completely cutting ties with Qatar.

"The four countries mobilised all of their officials on the continent at the beginning of the blockade to pressure African states to adopt the same measures as them," Sheikh Mohammed said.

"Most of them resisted and remained faithful to the principles of international law. The ones who gave in were either blackmailed or were offered large sums of money."

Qatar's top diplomat accused the Saudi-led bloc of resorting to "briefcase diplomacy" in Africa, stressing that gas-rich Doha has long sought to finance development in the continent.

Chad, Mauritania and Comoros all severed ties with Qatar in the wake of the worst diplomatic crisis to roil the Gulf for years, while Niger and Djibouti recalled their ambassadors.

See Also: The Qatar crisis hits the African continent

Speaking about Comoros' positioning in the spat, Sheikh Mohammed said: "We were the first Arab state to work in the Comoros."

"We supported them politically and in their development projects. They suddenly changed position because of an offer made to them."

He accused the Chadian government of similarly accepting a bribe from the UAE to turn against Doha despite years of close relations.

"Why did Chad, shortly after it declared support for the bloc, obtain a reconstruction conference in the UAE?" he asked.

Senegal initially sided with the Saudi-led bloc, recalling its ambassador, only to reinstate its envoy in August in what it said was a move to encourage a resolution to the Gulf crisis.

"Dakar eventually realised that it had made the wrong decision," Sheikh Mohammed explained.

"Senegalese President Macky Sall told the Emir that he had been deceived and wanted to reinstate his ambassador in Doha."

He also speculated on possible reasons behind geographically distant Gabon, which has condemned Qatar, siding with the bloc.

"This is probably the result of a deal. Some states are in need, and they can not be blamed for succumbing to temptation," he added.

The minister also stressed that Libya's Tripoli-based government has maintained relations with his country.

"Some consider that Libya is one of these countries. But, in reality, it was the non-legitimate authority that has aligned itself with the bloc," he said referring the Tobruk-based government led by UAE-funded general Khalifa Haftar.

In June, sources told The New Arab that Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo had rejected a $80 million bribe to join the boycott.

Somalia's government has since rebuked its three semi-autonomous regions for cutting ties with Qatar, saying it was determined to stay neutral in the dispute.

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