Posts Tagged ‘al Jazeera’

‘Channel of ISIS and Al-Qaeda’: Top UAE security official calls for Al Jazeera to be bombed

November 26, 2017

RT — Russia Today

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Dubai’s security chief Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan, known for his controversial social media posts, has called for Al Jazeera to be obliterated. The General accuses the Qatar channel of siding with the perpetrators of this week’s deadly Sinai attack.

“The alliance must bomb the machine of terrorism… the channel of ISIL, al-Qaeda and the al-Nusra front, Al Jazeera the terrorists,” Khalfan wrote on Twitter to his 2.4 million followers, using an older name for Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS)

“For how long will they continue to tamper with the security of Egypt and the Arab world?”

Khalfan, who has been a key agitator in the ongoing standoff between Qatar and other Gulf States, underlined his point by putting out a composite picture that placed the channel’s logo next to images of ISIS leader Bakr al-Baghdadi, Osama bin Laden, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, and Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has his own show on the channel.

The Doha-based Al Jazeera has replied by saying that it is Khalfan who is inciting terrorism, and said that he would bear responsibility for any attacks against its journalists.

“The UAE needs to respond. Khalfan is not just an Emirati citizen but an official in the UAE government. He is using a moment of anger and grief over the terrible attack in Sinai to fuel his hatred against Al Jazeera.” Yaser Abuhilalah, managing director of Al Jazeera Arabic, told al-Quds al-Arabi.

“What Dhahi Khalfan is doing is incitement to terrorism. Terrorism is not just limited to committing a crime, but any act or statement that paves the way for a terrorist act or incites it, and incitement to terrorism is terrorism itself.”

On Friday, militants operating under the Islamic State banner carried out a shooting and bombing of a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai, killing over 300 people, including more than 120 children.

While Al Jazeera did not endorse this or previous terrorist attacks carried out in the name of Islam, it has been accused of terrorism links ever since it became the station to broadcast bin Laden’s messages to the world, which were handed over to its journalists by Al-Qaeda representatives.

Critics have also said that it serves as the propaganda arm of the Qatari state and particularly its security services, promoting their agenda in supporting various movements in the volatile region. Multiple Al Jazeera journalists were arrested in Egypt, where its offices were forced to close in 2013, at the behest of the current regime, over their on-air support of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The channel, which began broadcasting in Arabic in 1996, says that it merely operates outside the national restrictions that hobble other regional broadcasters, insists that it is providing independent journalism, and cites its high ratings in multiple countries as evidence that its editorial lines find resonance with viewers.

https://www.rt.com/news/411006-dubai-chief-al-jazeera-bombed/

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What Tillerson May Find in the Middle East — Qatar sees Saudi Arabia and other blockading countries as “siege countries” who violate human rights

October 22, 2017
Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri
Dr Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri — Dr al-Marri pointed that the siege countries had not responded to international and human rights appeals to stop violations
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The plans of the siege countries, including military threats and attempt to overthrow the regime in Qatar, reflect deliberate intentions to attack Qatar, and a threat to international peace and security, the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) chairman Dr Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri said.

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Addressing a meeting with representatives of international media at the Press Club in Madrid, Spain, he observed that if the siege countries’ plans had gone through, it would have exacerbated human tragedies and serious violations of international humanitarian law.

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“In NHRC, we see that there are many options that the State of Qatar can take, such as resorting to the UN General Assembly and getting the International Court of Justice’s opinion on the illegality of the siege in addition to resorting to the Security Council, in the background of the threat to international peace and security in the region and the world at large, in parallel with the insistence on prolonging the siege and its serious humanitarian consequences,” Dr al-Marri stated.

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The NHRC Chairman stressed that the four blockading countries have taken arbitrary and unilateral actions and decisions that affect human rights. He addressed the serious repercussions of the siege, stressing that what Qatar is going through is an unjust siege that goes beyond severing diplomatic relations.

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“Experts in international human rights organisations, the UN Human Rights Council, politicians and officials in many countries have stressed that what is being imposed on Qatar is an illegal blockade,” he said adding that all violations have been documented by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other international human rights organisations in addition to the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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“All these entities agreed to call upon the siege countries to reconsider their decisions and expressed their strong condemnation and rejection of the use of civilians and their involvement in political differences,” he stressed.

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Dr al-Marri pointed that the siege countries had not responded to international and human rights appeals to stop violations, but had been waging a campaign of defamation against human rights organisations, that reached even the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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“The NHRC has received more than 4,000 complaints since June, 5 from those affected by the siege, which had impact on more than 13,000 Gulf citizens residing in Qatar. It also documented thousands of humanitarian cases of Qataris and GCC citizens and residents, whose basic human rights such as the right to family reunification, the right to work, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, education, treatment, mobility, property and the exercise of religious rites have been violated.

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Dr al-Marri touched on the suffering of many Gulf citizens who have been imprisoned over charges of sympathy with Qatar, which prompted many citizens of the siege countries to file complaints against the violations they have suffered.

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Responding to a question about the real reasons of the decisions that targeted Qatar, Dr al-Marri said: “The siege countries submitted 13 demands, some of which violate the sovereignty of the State of Qatar, the Charter of the United Nations and international human rights law, such as the demand to close Al Jazeera, while the United Nations and the High Commissioner for Human Rights have affirmed the illegality of any agreement that contravenes the Charter of the United Nations and human rights conventions.”

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The NHRC chief pointed out that there is a body for the settlement of disputes in the GCC and wondered why it is not used to resolve the crisis. He pointed out that the NHRC has contacted all regional human rights mechanisms, including the Arab Parliament, and received no response from those organisations.

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“The siege has had severe effects, directly on the citizens and residents of Qatar, and although the measures taken against the Qatari government have been overcome, thanks to the available alternatives, the humanitarian side remains the most affected by the siege.

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Dr al-Marri also gave a lecture at a seminar hosted by the “Arab House” in the Spanish capital, on “The role of the National Human Rights Committee in the promotion and protection of human rights” as an independent non-governmental institution which made several recommendations that contributed to the reform of the country’s legal and legislative system for the development of human rights, including the rights of migrant workers and other social groups.

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Of six national human rights institutions in the Arab states, Qatar’s NHRC is the only in the GCC to be rated A by the United Nations, a matter which reflects its efforts and its commitment to international standards of national human rights organisations, he added.

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http://www.gulf-times.com/story/568197/Siege-countries-plans-reflect-intentions-to-attack

Analysis: Fighters in Inter-Arab Cold War Dig In For The Long Haul

October 11, 2017
BY BEN LYNFIELD

The Jerusalem Post
OCTOBER 11, 2017 09:50

“This feud has not played out behind closed doors, it is being waged with the biggest public relations and propaganda efforts in the western media.”

Analysis: Fighters in inter-Arab ‘cold war’ dig in for the long haul

A general view taken on September 24, 2017 shows the Navy Special Forces off the coast of the Qatari capital, Doha. . (photo credit:KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)

Four months after first flaring up, the crisis between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates shows no signs of abating.

Indeed, new issues of contention keep opening up in this cold war that started when the four allies imposed a trade and diplomatic embargo on Qatar, accusing it of destabilizing the region and supporting terrorism, including through incitement by its Al Jazeera satellite station. Saudi Arabia closed Qatar’s only land border, and Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE severed air links.

On June 23, Riyadh and its allies issued a 10-day ultimatum for ending the blockade that included 13 demands, among them closing Al Jazeera; scaling back ties with Tehran; and ending contact with the Muslim Brotherhood.

But the pressure has not subdued Qatar and analysts believe the stalemate could continue for some time.

“The fact that it has gone on for so long shows the Saudis are not winning,” said Joshua Teitelbaum, a specialist on the Gulf at Bar-Ilan University’s BESA Center for Strategic Studies.

“Qatar has been able to stand on its hind legs and keep this from totally defeating it.” But, he added: “There’s a long way to go.”

Qatar’s staying power is attributed by analysts to factors including funding effective lobbying efforts in the West; Washington’s need to keep working relations with it on a sound footing due to its hosting a crucial US airbase; and the soundness of its economy, which is based largely on natural gas exports that are continuing.

However, notes Brandon Friedman, a scholar at Tel Aviv University’s Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Doha might be vulnerable if Saudi Arabia and the UAE choose to significantly escalate the crisis by pulling their holdings from Qatari banks.

In recent days, the conflict has expressed itself in a rivalry over who will become UNESCO’s next secretary-general with the field of candidates including Egypt’s Moushira Khattab, a former minister under the regime of Hosni Mubarak, and Qatar’s Hamad Bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari, a former minister of information and culture. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, though not members of the UNESCO board, are lobbying in favor of Khattab to prevent a Qatari victory.

Far more serious is the burgeoning dispute surrounding Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 soccer World Cup.

“This is a huge flagship issue for Qatar. The Saudis and their allies would like nothing better than to take it away,” said Teitelbaum.

The Saudis and their allies have started a lobbying campaign against the Cup being held in Doha, which is expected to focus on allegations of corruption in Qatar’s bidding for the venue. It is also expected to highlight alleged Qatari human rights abuses against workers on the project.

A senior Emirati security official, Lt.-Gen. Dhahi Khalfan of Dubai, tweeted recently that the Gulf crisis will end if Doha gives up on hosting the World Cup.

Meanwhile, a study carried out by the management consultant firm Cornerstone Global made available to the BBC cast doubt on Qatar’s ability to host the competition due to “increased political risk” stemming, in part, from the blockade.

Qatari officials perceive a Saudi hand behind the study, but the founder of Cornerstone Global, Ghanem Nuseibeh, denied that the report was funded by any of the countries mounting the blockade.

Qatari officials, meanwhile, say there is “no risk” that the event will be canceled.

In Friedman’s view, “both sides seem to be settling in for the long haul” in terms of their conflict, but he dismisses the idea that it is interminable, saying there is a possible scenario that could alleviate it in the future, namely “a geopolitical situation that would remind them that they need each other.”

This, he said, could take the form of a confrontation between Iran and the Arab Gulf states.

According to Friedman, one of the reasons the enmity between Qatar and the four allies is persisting is that neither side wants to incur the blow to its honor from backing down. “Honor and shame is something we have to be mindful of, especially with the royal families of the Gulf,” he said. “This feud has not played out behind closed doors, it is being waged with the biggest public relations and propaganda efforts in the western media. This makes it harder for either side to find a face-saving formula.”

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Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary: All suspects killed in police ops were drug dealers — ‘Can we trust the Philippine police?’ — Philippine Government seen as “not trustworthy” in Al Jazeera interview

October 7, 2017
 
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano defended anew President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war by making a sweeping claim that all 3,800 people killed under the deadly crackdown were all drug dealers. Screen grab from Al Jazeera’s YouTube video

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano defended anew President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war by making a sweeping claim that all 3,800 people killed under the deadly crackdown were all drug dealers, contradicting the Philippine National Police itself and several surveys.

Police data show 3,850 have “died in police operations,” suggesting these are drug suspects who engaged arresting officers in shootouts.

READ: PNP: 6,225 drug-related deaths, no extrajudicial killings

To be sure, the PNP uses the term “suspects” when referring to the fatalities. Under the Philippine law, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

But when asked by British journalist Mehdi Hasan during a recent Al Jazeera interview if “every single one” of the 3,850 casualties in the drug war was a “criminal drug dealer,” Cayetano said: “Yes.”

Quizzed by Hasan about his basis for his claim considering Manila’s supposedly “not democratic way” of solving crime, Cayetano evaded the question and instead defended the police.

“You’re absolutely saying it as if you’re not on the ground,” Cayetano told Hasan, who, in turn, stressed that under normal procedures, drug suspects must be charged and tried first.

In response, Cayetano said: “So you mean in the US or in any country your show is shown, if someone pulls a gun on the police they have to bring them to court first before they fire back? The police are doing what they can.”

Duterte, who easily won the race to Malacañang last year on a brutal law-and-order platform, has stoked international alarm for activating his fierce anti-drug campaign.

Human rights watchdogs said most of the fatalities are extrajudicial killings committed by cops and unknown assailants—a claim that the government has vehemently denied by insisting that police are only killing in self-defense while gangsters are silencing potential witnesses.

But according to a latest Social Weather Stations poll, more than half of Filipinos believe that many of the victims killed by police in the government’s anti-drug campaign did not really put up armed resistance, contrary to the claims of authorities.

A separate SWS poll, meanwhile, revealed that seven out of 10 Filipinos are anxious that they, or anyone they know, might become victims of extrajudicial killings.

READ: SWS: Vast majority of Filipinos think drug suspects should be captured alive | SWS: Majority of Filipinos think ‘nanlaban’ victims didn’t really fight back

In the same interview with Al Jazeera, Cayetano maintained that there are no cases of summary executions in the country.

He also hit the supposed spread of wrong facts in the international community by human rights groups “associated” with the opposition and the Church.

“The point is Filipinos will not support human rights violations. We’re very spiritual people. Whether Muslim or Christian—Filipinos believe in the dignity of life,” he said.

Filipinos have mostly backed Duterte’s drug war even as critics condemned the alleged extrajudicial killings by cops. But the recent deaths of three teenagers in the country’s capital have triggered rare street protests and highlighted concerns about alleged police abuse.

READ: Child killings spark calls for UN probe — Human Rights Watch

‘Can we trust the Philippine police?’

Duterte early this year halted the drug operations nationwide, cussing the PNP as “corrupt to the core.”

He said 60 percent of the 160,000-force was rotten, needing retraining or booting out. A month-long lull followed, but the crackdown was later resumed.

READ: Bato suspends drug war for ‘internal cleansing’ of PNP | Duterte brings back police into war on drugs

Asked if the PNP can be trusted in carrying out the drug war considering the president’s previous diatribes against cops, Cayetano, in the same interview with Hasan, said Duterte was just using his colorful language.

“Last time I checked, hyperbole and figures of speech are allowed,” Cayetano told Hasan.

“We’re not saying we should trust them, we said we should follow the law which is presumption of regularity but investigate,” he added.

“The point is he’s (Duterte) trying to clean up the police and he admits that there is a problem.”

Asked by Hasan if all drug-related deaths are being investigated, Cayetano replied that “every single one” is under probe.

“Most independent observers have said they there have not been investigations of all those killings,” Hasan retorted.

“Independent investigators have seen the progress. It is the ideological and biased human rights groups,” Cayetano countered Hasan.

According to an updated police data, there are 2,290 “deaths under investigation,” which have already been determined to be “drug-related.”

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/10/07/1746438/all-suspects-killed-police-ops-were-drug-dealers-says-cayetano

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Saudi Foreign Minister Al-Jubeir at UN Demands Qatar Stop Terror Support — Wants Iran Out of Yemen

September 24, 2017

Bloomberg

By Kambiz Foroohar

  • Al-Jubeir warns of Iran’s role in Yemen hurting regional peace
  • Says no military solution to Yemen crisis entering fourth year
Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel Ahmed Al-Jubeir.

 Photographer: Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

Qatar’s support for terrorism has destabilized the region and Doha must stop its financing of terror groups, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told leaders at the annual United Nations General Assembly.

In a relatively restrained address, Jubeir demanded that Qatar abide by the previous agreements it had made and warned of Iran’s meddling in Yemen.

The Saudis, backed by United Arab Emirates and two other regional allies, broke off diplomatic ties with Qatar in early June, imposed an economic embargo, and cut transport links. The Saudi coalition has made a number of demands, including the closing of Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera and expelling certain political groups.

QuickTake on Why Qatar Crisis Defies Rapid Resolution

Al-Jubeir also warned that the Houthi militia takeover of Yemen, with support from Iran, represented a threat to the region. His warning came on the third anniversary of the rebels taking over the capital, Sanaa, in September 2014, and forcing president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to flee.

A Saudi-led coalition started a military campaign in 2015 to push back the Houthis. The conflict has caused a humanitarian disaster, where millions are at risk of famine and a rampant cholera crisis could affect 850,000 people this year, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“A military solution will not end the crisis in Yemen,” Al-Jubeir said.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-23/saudi-foreign-minister-at-un-demands-qatar-stop-terror-support

Arab Media Idolized Qatar Royals Who Left Home to Live Abroad — Both called this week to convene a meeting of the Qatari ruling family to “discuss the crisis.”

September 22, 2017

By Aziz El Yaakoubi

Emails Indicated Saudi Plan To Attack Qatar — To “solve everyone’s problems”

September 17, 2017
Image of the UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al-Otaiba [File photo]

Image of the UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al-Otaiba [File photo]

Saudi Arabia was preparing for a military attack on its neighbour Qatar, leaked emails dated May 2017 appear to show.

The emails between UAE Ambassador in Washington, Yousef Al-Otaiba, and US diplomat Elliott Abrams in May 2017 claim that Saudi came close to “conquering” Qatar and this would “solve everyone’s problems”, according to the Emirati official.

Al-Otaiba added that deceased Saudi monarch King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz “came pretty close to doing something in Qatar” a few months before his death in January 2015.

Abrams was surprised by the revelation, the emails show, declaring: “I did not know that. It is dramatic.”

“How hard could it be?” he asked, adding:

Foreigners won’t interfere … Promise the Indians a raise, promise the police a raise and who is going to fight to the death?

Al-Otaiba replied: “That was the conclusion. It would be an easy lift.”

Khalil Al-Anani: The shifts in the Gulf crisis

Alleged leaked emails between UAE Ambassador in Washington, Yousef Al-Otaiba, and US diplomat Elliott Abrams from May 2017, suggesting Saudi Arabia was preparing for a military attack on its neighbour Qatar.

Abrams went on to say that former US President Barack Obama would not have supported an attack on Qatar “but the new guy…” in reference to current American Presisdent Donald Trump.

In the emails, Abrams suggested Jordan control Qatar. “The Hashemites need to control Qatar … that would solve their financial problems and Qatar’s support of extremism.” as he put it.

It is noteworthy that Abrams served as deputy assistant to US President George W. Bush and as his deputy national security adviser.

On 5 June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups in the region.

The four countries also imposed an embargo on Qatar and issued a long list of demands, including the closure of Doha-based news broadcaster Al Jazeera, under the threat of further sanctions.

Qatar has refused to submit, denying charges that it supports terrorism and describing the bloc’s efforts to isolate it as a violation of international law and an infringement of its national sovereignty.

A spokesperson at the UAE embassy in the US told Middle East Eye that she was “not in a position to confirm or deny” the emails were genuine.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170916-uae-saudi-arabia-was-going-to-launch-military-attack-on-qatar/

Qatar in bid to boost ties with Israel, US — “Public affairs and marketing effort”

September 7, 2017

Gulf News

Doha hires a PR company to improve its relations with the Jewish community worldwide

Image Credit: AP
FILE Picture: A traditional dhow floats in the Corniche Bay of Doha, Qatar. While Israel has always feigned disagreement with Qatar, reportedly over its pro-Palestinian coverage of Al Jazeera TV — a closer look exposes a much more complex relationship than what appears on the surface.
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Published: 12:54 September 7, 2017Gulf News

Gulf News

Dubai: Qatar has reportedly hired a public relations company to improve relations with the Jewish community worldwide while strengthening relations with the United States.

According to O’Dwyer’s PR News, the news outlet for public relations, public affairs and marketing communications, Qatar hired Stonington Strategies for $50,000 (Dh183,663) a month for the campaign.

 

 

Stonington is headed by Nick Muzin, a doctor, lawyer and Republican strategist who is active in Jewish affairs.

“Engagement with Qatar can only be in the best interests of the United States and the Jewish community,” Muzin was quoted as saying by the news outlet.

Under the contract, Muzin will “advise on ways to build a closer relationship with the United States and improve ties with the Jewish community worldwide.”

“He will explore opportunities for political, cultural and economic cooperation with the US and Israel, especially in the areas of trade, real estate, job creation and technology.”

Among Muzin’s responsibilities while he served as deputy chief of staff for Texas Senator Ted Cruz during his GOP primary run, was outreach to the Jewish community.

While Israel has always feigned disagreement with Qatar, reportedly over its pro-Palestinian coverage of Al Jazeera TV — a closer look exposes a much more complex relationship than what appears on the surface.

Recently, a leaked report emerged in the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, saying that Tel Aviv was toying with the idea of closing down Al Jazeera’s Occupied Jerusalem bureau — comparing it to Nazi propaganda.

That has not happened, however — the story is increasingly appearing to be aimed at giving Qatar a facelift in the Arab world by appearing to be a foe of Israel.

In fact, Tel Aviv remains supportive of the Qatari regime, albeit discretely.

The two countries have maintained cordial relations, with former President Shimon Peres twice visiting Qatar.

The first was in 1996 when he inaugurated Israel’s trade mission to Qatar, followed by a 2007 trip to appear on Al Jazeera’s popular Doha Debates.

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni visited Doha in 2008, meeting with Shaikh Hamad, and in January 2008 Defence Minister Ehud Barak met with former Qatari Prime Minister Abdullah Bin Khalifa Al Thani in Switzerland.

Qatar unilaterally closed the Israeli Trade Mission in Doha in 2000, during the highest violence of the second intifada, but low-profile trade links remain open between Tel Aviv and Doha, which Qataris hope to tap into now, as other Gulf markets have been sealed off since June.

Doha also signalled that Israeli athletes would be welcome to participate in the Fifa games, and a stadium was named after the Qatari capital in the Israeli city of Sakhnin in the Galilee.

Four years ago, Qatar transported 60 Yemeni Jews to Israel, at the direct request of the Israeli Government, giving them a connection via Doha, while in 2015 they hosted talks between Israel and Hamas.

This relationship can be very useful to break Qatar’s current isolation and save Tamim’s government from collapse.

In turn, Qatar has proved willing to jump to Israel’s assistance at any time by triggering conflict in the Middle East when needed or mediating with non-state players who have the ear of Qatari royals, like Hezbollah and Hamas.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/qatar-in-bid-to-boost-ties-with-israel-us-1.2086394

Related:

 (Turkey seems more devoted to Iran, Qatar, Russia than to the EU and Nato…)

Qatar Says No Sign Arab States Willing to Negotiate Over Boycott

August 30, 2017

DOHA — Qatar’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that his country was willing to negotiate an end to a Gulf diplomatic rift but had seen no sign that Saudi Arabia and other countries imposing sanctions on Doha were open to mediation.

Kuwait and the United States are trying to heal a bitter dispute between Qatar and four Arab countries that has damaged business ties and disrupted travel for thousands of citizens in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Emirates severed political and trade ties with the small gas-rich country on June 4, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the charges.

A visit this week to the UAE and Qatar by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov showed no signs of having eased tensions among the Gulf Arab powers.

“Qatar maintains its position that this crisis can only be achieved through a constructive dialogue … but the blockading counties are not responding to any efforts being conducted by Kuwait or other friendly countries,” Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told reporters in Doha on Wednesday at a news conference with his Russian counterpart.

 Image result for news for Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, photos
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani

The UAE’s ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba, in an interview with U.S.-based magazine the Atlantic on Monday, said his country would negotiate with Qatar so long as Doha did not set any preconditions for talks.

 Image result for Yousef al-Otaiba, photos
Yousef al-Otaiba

Sheikh Mohammed said on Wednesday Qatar planned to bolster trade with Russia, one of the world’s biggest gas exporters, and that Qatar could no longer rely on neighboring states to support its economy or guarantee food security.

Lavrov said if face-to-face negotiations started, Russia would be ready to contribute to the mediation and that it was in Russia’s interest “for the GCC to be united and strong”.

(Reporting by Tom Finn; Editing by Alison Williams)

Related:

  (UAE’s ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba, in an interview with U.S.-based magazine the Atlantic)

Emirati Ambassador: Qatar Is a Destructive Force in the Region

August 30, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person, indoor

United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the U.S., Yousef al Otaiba.  Credit Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Yousef al-Otaiba on the Gulf crisis and the future of the Middle East

By KATHY GILSINAN AND JEFFREY GOLDBERG

The Atlantic

AUG 28, 2017

Three months ago, six countries led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar, a fellow member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Qatar’s foes declared it complicit with extremism—citing, among other things, its support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas—and argued that it was too close to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s nemesis in the Middle East. Not long after, they issued 13 demands to Qatar, including that it “curb diplomatic ties with Iran” and “shut down” the state-backed broadcaster Al Jazeera, and more generally “end interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs” through contacts with opposition figures. Qatar vowed not to negotiate; despite some mediation efforts from the United States and Kuwait, the standoff has continued ever since. Last week, Qatar, trolling its erstwhile Gulf partners, restored diplomatic relations with Iran, which had been broken in  2016.

The battle for leadership of the Gulf is also playing out in Washington, through hacks, leaks, and influence campaigns. Weeks before Qatar-GCC relations reached a crisis point, Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to the United States—a person widely seen as the most influential Arab ambassador in Washington—saw his email account breached; new reports based on their contents are still surfacing. Immediately preceding the break in relations, other hackers allegedly planted a false story on Qatari news sites in which the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is quoted calling Iran an “Islamic power” and urging the other Gulf states to drop their policy of confrontation with the country. The Qataris disavowed those remarks. The UAE was accused of orchestrating that hack; and the UAE in turn denied involvement.

The level of dysfunction in the GCC has become breathtaking, even more so because President Trump has lined up with Saudi Arabia and the UAE against Qatar, declaring on Twitter that it was “so good to see” Saudi Arabia and others taking a hard line on Qatar, and that “perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!” It was not clear if Trump knew that Qatar hosted the biggest American air base in the Middle East, Al Udeid, which houses about 10,000 American military personnel and facilitates the campaign against ISIS. Trump’s State Department, though, apparently did know this, and Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, expressed the hope that Qatar’s antagonists would lift the trade and travel blockade they’d imposed on the country. The blockade remains largely in place.

Otaiba usually prefers to keep out of the media spotlight. But in an interview with us, he set out to explain what precipitated the break with Qatar. “This is not the first rodeo,” he says. “We went through this in November of 2014”—when the Saudis and Emiratis withdrew their ambassadors for eight months—and “we had the same exact concerns and grievances.” Back then, relations were restored when Qatar signed on to a list of principles Otaiba says resembles the current set of demands; the demands are more detailed and onerous now, he says, because Qatar broke the 2014 agreement.

Still, he says the break in relations and the impasse over restoring them does not represent a crisis. Qatar seems poised to endure it; economists who spoke to Bloomberg News recently noted, in the news organization’s words, that “Qatar has absorbed the embargo’s economic shock”—to such an extent that its rate of economic growth next year is expected to be the highest among the GCC countries. (This is due in part to the gas deposit it shares with Iran.)

“We’re three months in now,” Otaiba says, “and I’m more convinced than ever that [the Qataris] are not serious about sitting down and having a conversation about how this gets resolved.” Of Qatar’s leader, who took power from his father in 2013, Otaiba speculated: “This is just my opinion, that perhaps Emir Tamim is not fully in charge. It’s possible his parents continue to call the shots in Qatar.”

Otaiba sees the two biggest threats to his country and the region as being Iran and extremist groups. “Iran is a sovereign state,” he says. “You see that their behavior is harming the region, you see that their support for terrorist and proxy groups is destabilizing the region. Sunni extremism comes from within. Sunni extremism attempts to hijack our religion and then use it for political reasons to gain power, like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, like Hamas in Palestine. These groups hide behind religion but use religion for political purposes. So the two threats are very, very serious, they just manifest themselves differently.”

A condensed and edited transcript of our conversation follows.

Read the rest:

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/08/yousef-al-otaiba-qatar-gcc/538206/