New remarks from one of Dubai’s top security officials, who has called for the annexation of Qatar into the UAE, are generating an outpouring of online response from Doha’s local community.
In a series of tweets posted this week to his more than 600,000 followers, Lt. General Dhahi Khalfan, the deputy chairman of Police and General Security in Dubai, said:
نطالب باعادة قطر الى سيادة مشيخة ابوظبي عودة الفرع الى اﻻصل.
— ضاحي خلفان تميم (@Dhahi_Khalfan) March 30, 2014
المفروض نضع على حدودنا باتجاه قطر انتم اﻵن على مشارف اﻻمارة الثامنة لدولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة.
— ضاحي خلفان تميم (@Dhahi_Khalfan) March 31, 2014
ﻻ يجوز ان تكون قطر وكرا لجماعة الإخوان المتأسلمين.
— ضاحي خلفان تميم (@Dhahi_Khalfan) April 1, 2014
Translation: “We demand that Qatar be returned to its original ruling under Abu Dhabi, return the branch to its original one.”
“Qatar is an integral part of the UAE. We must put up signs on our borders with Qatar stating: ‘You are now entering the UAE’s eighth emirate.'”
“Qatar should not be ‘a safe haven’ to the so-called ‘Muslim’ Brotherhood.”
Khalfan, formerly Dubai’s police chief, is a longtime critic of the Islamist group, which Qatar has supported. However, many in the GCC see the Muslim Brotherhood as a threat to their political stability.
Qatar’s position on the group has been cited by analysts and local officials as the main reason the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Doha last month.
Khalfan’s tweets also mention his disapproval of Azmi Bishara, a former member of Israel’s Knesset and the general director of Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Qatar, in addition to prominent Doha-based Islamic scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi.
Qatar has not publicly commented on the senior security official’s remarks.
But the Qatari community has been discussing Khalfan’s statements on social networks, with some mocking his posts under the Twitter hashtag #ضاحي_خلفان_يطالب_بضم_قطر_للإمارات (Dhahi Khalfan demanding the annexation of Qatar to UAE).
Khalfan also asserted that Emiratis comprise 80 percent of Qatar’s total population, and were the first to name the country’s city Doha, saying: “I hope you’re not upset, this is the truth.”
@NadaBadawi it was never his to 'reclaim' please refrain from using such words that would indicate our country belongs to them.
— Barely Political (@impolitical1) April 2, 2014
But Twitter users scorned the remarks, reminding Khalfan that the UAE, along with Qatar and Bahrain, were collectively known as the Trucial States after the British withdrew their colonial presence from the region in 1968.
— meme (@Mshael1) March 31, 2014
Some have expressed concern about the online row, saying Khalfan’s tweets could heighten the already existing tension between Qatar and the UAE.
— Hamad Al-Amari (@hamadalamari) April 2, 2014
Translation: “I love the UAE and its people, but he’s crazy! It’s not allowed to cause chaos between Gulf countries. Shame on his words.”
The tensions began worsening earlier this year, after the UAE officially objected to a sermon of Al Qaradawi’s. During a broadcast speech, the Egyptian-born Qatari cleric criticized the UAE’s support for Egypt’s new military government, which overthrew Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi last year in Cairo.
Since then, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have pledged billions of dollars in aid to the new government. Qatar meanwhile had backed Morsi’s government and has seen the return of aid it previously offered to his administration.
The situation escalated last month with the withdrawal of Saudi, UAE and Bahrain’s envoys. In addition, Saudi Arabia declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group.
However, many are doubtful that Khalfan’s messages will do anything more than spark ire for now. A think tank source in Qatar who asked to remain anonymous told Doha News:
“His remarks have surprised many people and have done little other than to exacerbate public antipathy between Qatar and the UAE. It is hard to see why such a senior official feels the need to express himself in this way – it is extremely counterproductive.”
He added that the problems between the Gulf countries would be fixed by officials more senior than Khalfan, and “not on Twitter.”