The Government of the Gambia has refused to side with the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in their diplomatic offensive against Qatar.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain all cut off diplomatic contact with Qatar after officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism” last week.
In what appeared to be a coordinated move, foreign office officials alleged Qatar was responsible for supporting the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda “at all levels” in an unprecedented diplomatic spat for the Gulf region.
Qatar has vehemently denied the allegations, suggesting the decision to sever ties was pre-meditated and based on “fabricated claims”.
And as the stand-off deepens with some African countries including Senegal siding with Saudi Arabia and severing ties with Qatar, the Gambia has opted to remain neutral.
The small West African nation with a predominant Sunni Muslim population said it was taken aback by the implication and worrisome nature of the situation and attendant regrettable consequences should restraint not prevail.
“For, at a time when the Middle East and the Gulf region are mired in interminable conflict, in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Iran, Bahrain, countries in which hydra-headed terrorism continues to inflict a tale of untold misery, death and destruction on the peoples of the area, the Government of the Gambia wishes to call on all sides to the Gulf conflict to show restraint and to privilege dialogue and a negotiating settlement so as to end a crisis whose elongation can only have far-reaching dire consequences for an entire region, more so as it came like a Tsunami at the very advent of the holy month of Ramadan – a month of peace, sacrifice, reflection and especially for forgiveness in Islam,” said Ousainou Darboe, Foreign Affairs minister of the Gambia.
In a media statement, Mr Darboe added: “And, at a time when our noble religion is being trampled upon, with scorn and disdain in some quarters, the Ummah must be seen to be resolutely closing ranks in defense of their brothers of the region who are asking for nothing more than to be allowed to continue to live in peace, harmony and cooperation in Islamic brotherliness”
Mr Darboe called on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the UN, the OIC, the Arab League and all men and women of people goodwill to conjugate efforts to bring about a speedy resolution to the impasse between Qatar and her neighbours so that normalcy could once again reign in the region.