Posts Tagged ‘al Jazeera’

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

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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/

 

Saudi Arabia and Israel Agree on Al Jazeera

August 11, 2017

There are still honourable Israelis who demand a state for the Palestinians; there are well-educated Saudis who object to the crazed Wahabism upon which their kingdom is founded; there are millions of Americans, from sea to shining sea, who do not believe that Iran is their enemy nor Saudi Arabia their friend. But the problem today in both East and West is that our governments are not our friends

By Robert Fisk

The Independent 

may-saudi.jpgTheresa May has already suppressed a report so it wouldn’t upset the Saudis. And we wonder why we go to war with the Middle East AFP

When Qatar’s Al Jazeera satellite channel has both the Saudis and the Israelis demanding its closure, it must be doing something right. To bring Saudi head-choppers and Israeli occupiers into alliance is, after all, something of an achievement.

But don’t get too romantic about this. When the wealthiest Saudis fall ill, they have been known to fly into Tel Aviv on their private jets for treatment in Israel’s finest hospitals. And when Saudi and Israeli fighter-bombers take to the air, you can be sure they’re going to bomb Shiites – in Yemen or Syria respectively – rather than Sunnis.

And when King Salman – or rather Saudi Arabia’s whizz-kid Crown Prince Mohammad – points the finger at Iran as the greatest threat to Gulf security, you can be sure that Bibi Netanyahu will be doing exactly and precisely the same thing, replacing “Gulf security”, of course, with “Israeli security”. But it’s an odd business when the Saudis set the pace of media suppression only to be supported by that beacon of freedom, democracy, human rights and liberty known in song and legend as Israel, or the State of Israel or, as Bibi and his cabinet chums would have it, the Jewish State of Israel.

So let’s run briefly through the latest demonstration of Israeli tolerance towards the freedom of expression that all of us support, nurture, love, adore, regard as a cornerstone of our democracy, and so on, and so on, and so on. For this week, Ayoob Kara, the Israeli communications minister, revealed plans to take away the credentials of Al Jazeera’s Israeli-based journalists, close its Jerusalem bureau and take the station’s broadcasts from local cable and satellite providers.

Al Jazeera exclusive: Former leader of al-Nusra Front confirming split from al-Qaeda

This, announced Ayoob Kara – an Israeli Druze (and thus an Arab Likud minister) who is a lifelong supporter of the colonisation by Jews of Israeli-occupied Arab land in the West Bank – would “bring a situation that channels based in Israel will report objectively”. In other words, threaten them. Bring them into line.

Bibi Netanyahu long ago accused Al Jazeera of inciting violence in Jerusalem, especially in its reporting of the recent Jerusalem killings – but since just about every foreign journalist in and outside Israel who has dared to be critical of the state has at one time or another been accused of incitement as well as anti-Semitism and other lies, this is just par for the course.

Personally, I have found Al Jazeera’s reporting from Israel pretty pathetic, its fawning reverence for the state all too painfully illustrated when its Qatar anchorwoman expressed to an Israeli government spokesman live on air her channel’s condolences on the death of Ariel Sharon, the monstrous Israeli ex-defence minister who was held responsible for the massacre of up to 1,700 Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp massacres of 1982.

Ayoob Kara, however, has actually taken his cue from his fellow Arabs. And he admits it. Israel had to take steps, he said, against “media, which has been determined by almost all Arab countries to actually be a supporter of terror, and we know this for certain”. So the Israelis, it appears, now receive lessons on media freedoms from “Arab countries”. Not just the Saudis, of course, but from “almost all Arab countries” whose unfettered media – one thinks at once of the untrammelled liberal press of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Algeria and yes, “almost” the entire media of the Gulf – are bastions of truth-telling, hard-hitting opponents of authoritarian regimes, constitutionally protected from dictatorial abuse. Forgive the hollow laughter. But is this really how Israel wants to define itself?

Well, yes it is, I suppose. For if an unwritten alliance really exists between Saudi Arabia and Israel, then all options – as US presidents and secretary Hillary Clinton used to say – are “on the table”.

Imprisonment without trial, extrajudicial executions, human rights abuses, corruption, military rule – let’s say this at once: all these characteristics belong to “almost all” Sunni Muslim Arab nations – and to Israel in the lands it occupies. And as for being a “supporter of terror” (I quote Israeli minister Kara again), one must first ask why Sunni Gulf Arabs have exported their fighters – and their money – to the most vicious Sunni Islamists in the Middle East. And then ask why Israel has never bombed these same vile creatures – indeed, ask why Israel has given hospital treatment to wounded fighters from the Sunni al-Nusra – in other words, al-Qaeda, the perpetrators of 9/11 – while attacking Shiite Hezbollah and Alawite (Shiite) led-Syria, and threatened to bombard Shiite Iran itself which is a project, I should add, of which Kara himself is all in favour.

Nor must we forget that America’s insane President and his weird regime is also part of the Saudi-Israeli anti-Shiite confederation. Trump’s obscene $350bn arms sales to the Saudis, his fingering of Iran and his hatred of the world’s press and television channels makes him an intimate part of the same alliance. Indeed, when you look at one of Trump’s saner predecessors – George W Bush, who also hated Iran, kowtowed to the Saudis and actually talked to Tony Blair of bombing Al Jazeera’s own headquarters in Qatar, he who made sure the wealthy bin Laden family were flown out of the States after 9/11 – this American-Saudi-Israeli covenant has a comparatively long history.

Being an irrational optimist, there’s an innocent side of my scratched journalistic hide that still believes in education and wisdom and compassion. There are still honourable Israelis who demand a state for the Palestinians; there are well-educated Saudis who object to the crazed Wahhabism upon which their kingdom is founded; there are millions of Americans, from sea to shining sea, who do not believe that Iran is their enemy nor Saudi Arabia their friend. But the problem today in both East and West is that our governments are not our friends. They are our oppressors or masters, suppressors of the truth and allies of the unjust.

Netanyahu wants to close down Al Jazeera’s office in Jerusalem. Crown Prince Mohammad wants to close down Al Jazeera’s office in Qatar. Bush actually did bomb Al Jazeera’s offices in Kabul and Baghdad. Theresa May decided to hide a government report on funding “terrorism”, lest it upset the Saudis – which is precisely the same reason Blair closed down a UK police enquiry into alleged BAE-Saudi bribery 10 years earlier.

And we wonder why we go to war in the Middle East. And we wonder why Sunni Isis exists, un-bombed by Israel, funded by Sunni Gulf Arabs, its fellow Sunni Salafists cosseted by our wretched presidents and prime ministers. I guess we better keep an eye on Al Jazeera – while it’s still around.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/al-jazeera-saudi-arabia-israel-policy-terrorism-isis-iran-prince-mohamed-netanyahu-a7885851.html

Israel’s Al-Jazeera move sends ‘chilling message’: Amnesty

August 7, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Al-Jazeera’s Jerusalem office
LONDON (AFP) – Israel’s decision to close the offices of broadcaster Al-Jazeera in the Jewish state is “a brazen attack on media freedom”, Amnesty International said Monday.”The move sends a chilling message that the Israeli authorities will not tolerate critical coverage,” Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at the London-based group, said in a statement.

“This is a brazen attack on media freedom in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” she added.

She urged Israel to “halt any attempt to silence critical media”, saying that “all journalists should be free to carry out their work without facing harassment or intimidation”.

Israel said Sunday it would demand the revocation of the credentials of journalists working for the channel and also cut its cable and satellite connections.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said on July 27 that he wanted Al-Jazeera expelled amid tensions over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site.

Israel has regularly accused the Doha-based broadcaster of bias in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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From Newsweek

Qatar’s flagship Al Jazeera news channel has hit back at Israel over its decision to close the TV station’s Jerusalem bureau and revoke the accreditation of its journalists saying the move undermines the nation’s claim to be a democracy.

Al Jazeera has found itself at the centre of one of the most inflammatory diplomatic crises to grip the gulf states in decades. Saudi Arabia and its allies—accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism and backing regional rival Iran—have cut all ties with their tiny gas producing neighbor. The closure of Doha-based Al Jazeera is one of 13 demands issued by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain before normal relations can resume.

Israel gave its most explicit backing of the Saudi boycott  to date on Sunday when Communications Minister Ayoub Kara said Israel would shut down the network’s cable and satellite transmissions in the country as well as the other measures against its journalists.

“We have based our decision on the move by Sunni Arab states to close the Al Jazeera offices and prohibiting their work,” Kara said. His comments followed statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  criticising the channel’s coverage of recent Arab boycotts over Israeli security measures at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque. Al Jazeera was denied access to the press conference about its own future.

Image may contain: kitchen and indoor

An employee walks inside an office of Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network in Jerusalem June 13, 2017. REUTERS/RONEN ZVULUN/

Fewer than 24 hours later the news channel offered its response. In a statement on the planned closure and other measures Al Jazeera said it “ denounces this decision made by a state that claims to be ‘the only democratic state in the Middle East.’”

Al Jazeera said that it would “watch closely the developments that may result from the Israeli decision, and will take the necessary legal measures towards it.”

The news channel challenged Kara, saying the Israeli minister had failed to substantiate his claims over Al Jazeera’s coverage, saying the network would “continue covering news and events in the occupied Palestinian territories in a professional and objective manner in accordance with the common journalistic standards set by the relevant international organizations, such as the British Broadcasting Code of Ofcom.”

The move by Israel follows the closure of Al Jazeera bureaus in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The UAE has also blocked Al Jazeera’s signal, while Egypt banned Al Jazeera following the ouster of the country’s Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi. Al Jazeera and its Arabic language channel in particular have been accused of support for the Islamist movement.

http://www.newsweek.com/everyone-seems-hate-al-jazeera-and-qatari-tv-channel-fighting-back-647192

Qatar tactics seen as failure as crisis enters third month

August 6, 2017

Instead of addressing Quartet concerns, Doha chose instead to protest against the boycott at international organisations

Image Credit: REUTERS
A man walks on the corniche in Doha, Qatar.
Published: 17:23 August 6, 2017Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The Qatari crisis has entered its third month, but the boycott of Doha imposed by the Arab quartet is set to continue because the Qatari regime fails to comply with their 13 demands and broader UN principles to combat terrorism and stop interference in other countries’ affairs, analysts say.

Although they are ready for talks with Doha, the Arab quartet is fully prepared to confront Qatari intrasigience for the long haul. The situation seems to be heading for a protracted crisis.

The four countries have expressed they are ready for dialogue with Qatar if it declares its “sincere willingness” to stop funding terrorism and extremism, halt interference in other countries’ foreign affairs, and respond to the 13 demands.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed their diplomatic relations with Qatar and closed their airspace and ports to Qatar-registered planes and ships over accusations it was supporting terrorist and extremist groups.

Instead of seriously addressing concerns of the Arab quartet and thus returning to the GCC fold, Doha opted to manoeuvre by protesting against the boycott at international organisations.

First by claiming the quartet’s move was a “blockade”. But the Arab quartet refuted Doha’s claims that a “blockade” has been imposed on Qatar by GCC countries, arguing that it was a boycott in keeping with international laws and motivated by the need to protect their national security.

Following the Manama meeting, Shaikh Abdulla Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said all measures taken by four states were within the jurisdiction of international law and “essential to deter the scourge of terrorism which affected stability of other countries.”

Earlier, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said in Washington after a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson there is no blockade of Qatar.

“The ports are open, the airports are open … What we have done is we have denied them use of our airspace, and this is our sovereign right. The limitation on the use of Saudi airspace is only limited to Qatar Airways or Qatari-owned aircraft, not anybody else … Qatar’s seaports were open,” Al Jubeir said.

In another failed attempt to politicise the Haj pilgrimage, Qatar accused Saudi Arabia of stopping its citizens from attending the Haj, a false claim that Riyadh called a “declaration of war”.

Qatar took its complaint to the UN special rapporteur, prompting an angry response from the Saudi Foreign Minister.

Despite the deepening row, Saudi Arabia says Qataris are welcome to attend the Haj, which is due to begin this month.

Qatar has also claimed the boycotting countries were in violation of the air travel treaty because they blocked Qatari flights from their airspace, a charge negated by the UN’s aviation authority, the International Civil Aviation Authority.

Saudi Arabia has also provided emergency corridors for Qatar through their airspace.

Desperate to lift the boycott, Qatar also launched a legal process at the World Trade Organisation, requesting consultations with the three Gulf countries and triggering a 60-day deadline for them to settle the complaint or face litigation at the WTO and potential retaliatory trade sanctions.

The wide-ranging legal complaint at the Geneva-based body is set to fail as the economic sanctions imposed on Qatar by the three fellow Gulf states do not violate WTO agreements, the Quartet has said.

Qatar has also accused Egypt of misusing its position on the UN Security Council, but Cairo denied the allegation in a letter to the council on Thursday, and accused Qatar of supporting terrorist groups financially and ideologically in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

Dr. Ayman Salama, a member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs and professor of international law at Cairo University, believes the boycott and the economic sanctions by the Arab quartet is completely legal that cannot be challenged, especially as Qatar has repeatedly undermined their national security.

“The measures taken by the Arab quartet are sovereign steps to protect the security and the safety of their countries,” Dr Salama told Gulf News.

Qatar’s public relations campaigns have also been dismal failures in making the right impression among Americans, as the Arab News/YouGov poll shows.

Half of respondents said they do not know enough about the Gulf state to pass judgement.

Yet, the next highest response rate — at some 34 per cent — reflects those whom associate Qatar with terror financing.

The poll also shows that most Americans, at 63 per cent, recognise Al Jazeera as a news source, but they do not believe that the network reflects professional journalism standards, which means many Americans do not trust Al Jazeera’s reporting.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/qatar-tactics-seen-as-failure-as-crisis-enters-third-month-1.2069776

Qatar permanent residency offer a ploy to keep expatriates from leaving

August 3, 2017

Reaction muted on social media with many users skeptical that such a move will actually happen

Published: 16:03 August 3, 2017Gulf News
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Dubai: Amid growing concerns its expatriates are pondering flowing out of the country following the inexorably growing crisis that erupted on June 5, Qatar has moved to offer some of its foreigners a new residence status that could motivate them to stay.

Qatar, where foreigners make up 88 per cent of the total population, hopes that by affording skilled expatriates the same education and healthcare rights as Qataris and property ownership, it will not lose them and, will not have, consequently, to face inevitable crippling challenges.

“Qatar is now moving ahead with a plan to ensure it keeps the people it desperately needs in the country following the mounting pressure resulting from the new situation after three Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Egypt severed their diplomatic and trade ties with Doha,” Mohammad Jaber, an analyst, said.

“It also wants to play a charm offensive game to win sympathy for adopting a more friendly and flexible approach with expatriates in a region where the sponsorship system has been dominant.”

On his part, UAE Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said that Qatar’s dependency on media, marketing “fictitious” accounts, has been exposed as it counters “human logic”.

Expatriates sometimes find life difficult in Qatar

Under the new scheme announced by the cabinet, permanent residency ID holders will receive the same treatment as Qataris in education and healthcare in public institutions and will be given priority, after locals, in holding public military and civil jobs.

“In addition, holders of that ID have the right to own property and engage in some commercial businesses without the need to have a Qatari partner, in line with the executive decisions that will be issued by the cabinet according to the provisions of the law,” a statement issued on Wednesday said.

The husbands of local women and those with “special competencies” needed by the state can also qualify.

Comments on social media were more cautious than enthusiastic.

“What about your kids? Does it get passed down to them? If not, then still no real incentive to stay in Qatar long time,” the commenter posted.

“I wouldn’t get too excited, it’s probably more of an aspiration than something that is likely to happen.”

Foreigners keen on the status must apply to the Ministry of Interior, but their application will have to be approved by a special committee to be set up to sift through the applications.

The idea of granting foreigners with “special competencies” a more secure permanent residency status in Qatar had been floating for several years.

Several people born and raised in Qatar have also called for the special status that would eliminate the sponsorship rules and exit permit requirements and would give them priority in hiring and flexible property ownership.

The official Qatar’s National Development Strategy 2011-2016, concluding that “turnover is substantial among high-skilled labour, especially in the health and education sectors, and that the rising proportion of expatriate workers in the past decade has created considerable risks, including to the economy, should a major crisis force expatriates to leave”, recommended “a recruitment and retention programme, including a review and revision as may be necessary, of Qatar’s sponsorship system,” as part of the country’s efforts to retain skilled expatriates.

However, the state seemed to ignore the recommendation until Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt severed their ties with Qatar and Doha found itself in the face of new challenges that could make thousands of skilled expatriates leave the country.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/qatar-permanent-residency-offer-a-ploy-to-keep-expatriates-from-leaving-1.2068550

But all is not black or white. Many expats love it in Qatar…

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