Anti-Doha bloc plotted 'invasion', says Qatar defence minister
A Saudi-led bloc boycotting Qatar plotted to invade Doha at the start of the Gulf crisis last year, Qatar's defence minister has revealed.
Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah told The Washington Post on Friday that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates attempted to provoke regime change in the gas-rich emirate.
"They have intentions to intervene militarily. They have tried everything. They tried to provoke the tribes. They used mosques against us," Attiyah said.
"Then they tried to get some puppets to bring in and replace our leaders," he said, referring to Qatari royal Sheikh Abdullah Ali al-Thani, who claimed he was held captive by Abu Dhabi after he sided with the bloc.
He added that Doha has been calling for dialogue to end the diplomatic spat since the start of the crisis and that the bloc's intentions to invade have been "diffused".
On 5 June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, accusing it of links to extremist groups.
Saudi Arabia then issued Qatar with a list of demands, including shutting down media outlets Al Jazeera and London-based The New Arab, curbing relations with Iran, and closing a Turkish military base in the emirate.
Qatar denies the charges and says the boycott is aimed at curtailing its sovereignty.
The United States praised Qatar for its improved counterterrorism cooperation last Tuesday and warned that its rift with the Saudi-led bloc has hurt the fight against extremism.
The longtime allies signed three MoUs covering security cooperation and other issues, a move that signals a push for closer cooperation between the two countries.
The deals were part of the first inaugural US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue, which was held in Washington.
In October, Qatar's former deputy prime minister has accused the UAE of planning to invade Doha with an army of mercenaries.
Qatar's fear of invasion stretches back to 2014 when Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain abruptly pulled their ambassadors from Qatar.