DOHA: Qatar said on Wednesday it was "surprised" by Ethiopia's decision to cut diplomatic ties with the Gulf state, and rejected as unfounded the accusation that it sought to destabilize the Horn of Africa. The official Qatar News Agency (QNA) cited a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying Doha was "surprised" by Ethiopia's "unfounded and untruthful allegations," and saw them as "a deliberate attempt to justify its own erroneous policies."
On Monday, Ethiopia announced it was severing ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting armed opposition groups across the Horn of Africa and citing Qatar's "strong ties" with Ethiopia's arch-foe, Eritrea.
QNA quoted the spokesman as calling on Ethiopia "to refrain from implicating Qatar in regional differences," and adding that "the Ethiopian government made similar allegations in the past, charges to which Qatar preferred not to respond in the hope that such erroneous behaviour might cease."
On Monday, the Ethiopian government said in a statement that it had "displayed considerable patience toward Qatar's attempts to destabilize our sub-region and, in particular, its hostile behavior toward Ethiopia.
"Qatar has now, however, become a major source of instability," it added. The statement accused Qatar of using its "media outlets" to undermine Ethiopia.
On April 11, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry sharply criticized Qatar-based news network Al-Jazeera for broadcasting TV reports on Ethiopia's Ogaden region. Ethiopia imposed a news blackout on the vast area, which has an ethnic Somali majority and has seen a long-running separatist rebellion by the Ogaden National Liberation Front.
"It is hard to ignore the fact that Al-Jazeera broadcasts out of Doha, the capital of Qatar. Qatar is a close ally of Eritrea," the Ethiopian statement said. "It would be totally unrealistic to imagine that any Al-Jazeera program on Ethiopia could be anything other than seriously biased."
Many regimes unaccustomed to criticism have downgraded relations with Qatar over Al-Jazeera's coverage of their policies. - AFP