Posts Tagged ‘al Udeid’

Qatar’s foreign minister to keynote US-Islamic World forum — Emir of Qatar publicly visiting US forces at big Al Udeid base

September 17, 2017

Al Jazeera

Image result for Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, photos

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani will deliver a keynote address at the US-Islamic World Forum in New York on Sunday.

The annual forum, now in its 13th year, is organised by the Brookings Institution in conjunction with the state of Qatar. This year’s theme is “Crisis and Cooperation” and discussion topics include ending conflicts in the Middle East and the future of pluralism in the Arab world.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/qatar-diplomatic-crisis-latest-updates-170605105550769.html

*************************************

Emir of Qatar publicly visiting US forces at big Al Udeid base 

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing

Emir of Qatar publicly visiting US forces at big Al Udeid base, September 17, 2017

Advertisements

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/

 

Tillerson in Qatar as leaks spark fresh Gulf tension — Tillerson Calls Qatari Position ‘Reasonable’

July 11, 2017

AFP

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (2-R) in Doha, Qatar July 11, 2017. REUTERS – Tom Finn

DOHA (AFP) – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Qatar Tuesday for talks on the Gulf diplomatic crisis as leaks of secret agreements between regional powers triggered fresh tensions.

Hopes of a resolution to the five-week crisis seem increasingly remote as Tillerson’s arrival in Doha was overshadowed by the publication of confidential agreements between Qatar and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states in which all sides had pledged to combat terror funding and avoid interference in other states.

Publication of the accords, dated 2013 and 2014, caused both sides in the deadlocked dispute to launch a fresh round of mutual accusations over ties to Islamist extremist groups.

Tillerson arrived in Kuwait on Monday and will visit regional powerhouse, and longtime US ally, Saudi Arabia before leaving the Gulf Thursday.

Kuwait has emerged as the main mediator in the conflict between Qatar and a group of Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, over allegations Doha was too close to both Islamist extremists and Shiite Iran.

Tillerson is due to meet Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in Doha before returning to Kuwait later Tuesday.

– ‘No clean hands’ –

Tillerson does not appear hopeful of an imminent solution to the Gulf crisis, the worst to hit the GCC since its establishment in 1981.

The US State Department has warned the crisis could last months.

“We’ve had one round of exchanges and dialogue and didn’t advance the ball,” said adviser R.C. Hammond.

“We will work with Kuwait and see if we can hash out a different strategy.”

Kuwait, the United States and Britain issued a joint statement following Monday’s talks, appealing to the Gulf foes “to quickly contain the current crisis and resolve it at the earliest through dialogue,” according to a statement cited by the KUNA news agency.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt on June 5 announced sanctions, effective immediately, against Qatar over accusations Doha supported Islamist extremism and was too close to Iran.

The four states severed all diplomatic ties, suspended transport links with Doha and ordered all Qataris to return home within 14 days.

On June 22, the Saudi-led bloc issued a list of 13 demands which, if met, would end the sanctions, including closing broadcast giant Al-Jazeera, downgrading ties to Iran and shutting a Turkish military base in Doha.

Qatar refused to comply with the demands and has consistently denied accusations of ties to Islamist groups.

The US has said the 13-point list was not an entirely viable option to end the crisis.

“Individually there are things in there that could work,” said Hammond.

“This is a two-way street,” he said. “There are no clean hands.”

– Riyadh agreements –

The publication of the Riyadh agreements on Monday appears to have renewed hostility between Qatar and its neighbours.

US broadcaster CNN aired leaked papers in which Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait — and later Bahrain and the UAE — had signed accords forbidding support for any opposition and hostile groups in their own nations, as well as in Egypt and Yemen.

A joint statement released by the Saudi-led bloc boycotting Qatar confirmed the documents proved “beyond any doubt Qatar’s failure to meet its commitments and its full violation of its pledges”.

Doha, however, maintains that the boycott is in violation of the 2013 and 2014 agreements.

A statement from the Government Communications Office said the current “siege” was “a clear violation” of the GCC’s charter and the Riyadh agreements.

– US interests –

Tillerson’s visit is the latest in a series by officials to the region, including UN diplomats and the foreign ministers of Germany, Britain and Oman.

The United States and its Western allies have vast economic and political interests in the Gulf, which pumps one fifth of the world’s oil supplies, houses one third of proven global crude reserves and sits on one fifth of the world’s natural gas deposits.

Tillerson is a former CEO of Exxon Mobil.

Qatar is also home to the US military’s largest air base in the region, Al-Udeid. Rival Bahrain houses the US Navy Fifth Fleet.

Analysts say Tillerson’s impact largely depends on his ability to manoeuvre regional scepticism over the extent to which he in fact represents the president of the United States.

US President Donald Trump initially supported longtime American ally Saudi Arabia, but his stance was later contradicted when the US Department of State took a more neutral position.

Tillerson’s team has also adopted a more neutral position against both sides in the conflict.

by David HARDING
.
Related:
.
 
.

Our history of reports on the Qatar crisis:

Egypt: 

 (Contains links to previous related articles)

.
.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
*****************************
.

DOHA (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in the Qatari capital Doha on Tuesday it had “reasonable” views in the month-old diplomatic crisis with Arab neighbors.

“I think Qatar has been quite clear in its positions, and I think those have been very reasonable,” Tillerson told reporters.

(Reporting By Tom Finn; Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

UAE turns screws on Qatar, threatens sympathizers with jail

June 7, 2017

Reuters

By Sylvia Westall and Tom Finn | DUBAI/DOHA

The United Arab Emirates tightened the squeeze on fellow Gulf state Qatar on Wednesday threatening anyone publishing expressions of sympathy towards it with up to 15 years in prison, and barring Qatari passport or resident visa holders entry.

Efforts to defuse the regional crisis — prompted on Monday when the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others severed diplomatic ties with Qatar over alleged support for Islamist groups and Iran — showed no immediate signs of success.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash threatened more curbs if necessary and said Qatar needed to make “iron-clad” commitments to change policies on funding militants. Qatar vehemently denies giving such support.

U.S. President Donald Trump took sides in the rift on Tuesday, praising the actions against Qatar, but later spoke by phone with Saudi King Salman and stressed the need for Gulf unity.

His defense secretary, James Mattis, also spoke to his Qatari counterpart to express commitment to the Gulf region’s security. Qatar hosts 8,000 U.S. military personnel at al Udeid, the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East and a launchpad for U.S.-led strikes on the Islamic State militant group.

Kuwait’s emir has also been seeking to mediate, meeting Saudi’s king on Tuesday.

Qatar’s isolation from powerful fellow Arab states advanced, however.

UAE-based newspaper Gulf News and pan-Arab channel Al-Arabiya reported the crackdown on expressions of sympathy with Qatar.

“Strict and firm action will be taken against anyone who shows sympathy or any form of bias towards Qatar, or against anyone who objects to the position of the United Arab Emirates, whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form,” Gulf News quoted UAE Attorney-General Hamad Saif al-Shamsi as saying.

On top of a possible jail term, offenders could also be hit with a fine of at least 500,000 UAE dirhams, the newspaper said, citing a statement to Arabic-language media.

Since the diplomatic row erupted, slogans against and in support of Qatar have dominated Twitter in Arabic, a platform used widely in the Arab world, particularly in Saudi Arabia.

Newspapers and television channels in the region have also been engaged in a war of words over Qatar’s role.

The UAE’s state-owned Etihad Airways, meanwhile, said all travelers holding Qatari passports were currently prohibited from traveling to or transiting through the emirates on government instructions.

Foreigners residing in Qatar and in possession of a Qatari residence visa would also not be eligible for visa on arrival in the UAE, Etihad spokesman said in an email.

“This ruling applies to all airlines flying into the UAE,” the spokesman said in the statement.

Those breaking ties with Qatar are the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the Maldives, Mauritania and Libya’s eastern-based government. Jordan has downgraded its diplomatic representation and revoked the license of Doha-based TV channel Al Jazeera.

SQUEEZE

Ordinary Qataris were loading up on supplies in supermarkets, fearing shortages. But financial markets were relatively calm after some recent jumps.

Qatar’s stock index was roughly unchanged after plummeting 8.7 percent over the last two days.

“Tensions are still high and mediation efforts by fellow Gulf Cooperation Council state Kuwait have yet to lead to a concrete solution, so investors will likely remain on edge,” said one Dubai-based trader.

Qatar has said it will not retaliate against the curbs.

“We are willing to sit and talk,” Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told CNN late on Tuesday. He said his country was “protecting the world from potential terrorists”.

A Qatari official, however, said the rift was pushing Doha in the direction of leaving the six-state Gulf Cooperation Council, “with deep regret”.

Bans on Doha’s fleet using regional ports and anchorages are threatening to halt some of its exports and disrupt those of liquefied natural gas.

Traders on global markets worried that Riyadh’s allies would refuse to accept LNG shipments from the Gulf state, the world’s largest liquefied natural gas exporter, and that Egypt might even bar tankers carrying Qatari cargoes from using the Suez Canal as they head to Europe and beyond.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall, Hadeel Al Sayegh, Celine Aswad, William MacLean; Writing by Jeremy Gaunt; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)