Posts Tagged ‘Anwar Gargash’

Saudi Arabia planning to turn Qatar into an island?

April 10, 2018

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia could consider a proposal to dig a maritime canal along the kingdom’s border with Qatar, turning the peninsula-nation into an island and transforming its only land border into a military zone and nuclear waste site, state-linked Saudi newspapers reported on Monday.

The project has not been given official approval and faces many obstacles. Still, the proposal signals a new low in the 10-month-old feud between Qatar and a quartet of nations that includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain.

Image result for qatar, photos

The four accuse Qatar of sponsoring terrorism because of its support for Islamist opposition groups in the region and its warm relations with Iran. Qatar denies the allegations and says the moves attempt to undermine its sovereignty.

Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, met in Washington on Monday with US defence secretary Jim Mattis. He is scheduled to meet President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia’s Sabq and al-Riyadh newspapers carried nearly identical reports on Monday saying that under the proposal, Saudi Arabia would transform part of its side of the border with Qatar into a military base and another area would become a dump site for waste from nuclear reactors the kingdom wants to build. The UAE, meanwhile, would also build a nuclear waste site at the closest point near its border with Qatar.

An earlier report by Sabq newspaper ran with a headline saying the canal project would “turn Qatar into an island” and would take just 12 months to complete. The so-called Salwa Marine Canal project would be funded by Saudi and Emirati investors and dug by Egyptian companies with experience in the Suez Canal.

Sabq reports the canal would span the entirety of the border with Qatar, creating waterfront coastline for resorts, private beaches and Gulf cruise liners. The canal, estimated to cost 2.8 billion riyals ($750 million), would stretch 200 meters wide (656 feet) wide and up to 20 meters deep (66 feet).

Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, became the first high-ranking official to comment on the proposal. In a string of tweets, he said the project is “proof of Qatar’s failure to manage and solve its crisis”. Qatari government spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Associated Press


Ten dead as rival Yemenis battle for control of Aden

January 28, 2018

Image may contain: 6 people, people on stage, people standing, crowd and outdoor

Supporters of the southern Yemeni separatists demonstrate against the government in Aden, Yemen January 28, 2018. REUTERS/Fawaz Salman Reuters

By Mohammed Mukhashaf and Stephen Kalin

ADEN/MARIB, Yemen (Reuters) – At least 10 people were killed and about 100 others were wounded as southern Yemeni separatists fought government troops in the southern city of Aden on Sunday, local medics said, deepening a rift between forces that had been on the same side.

The worst clashes yet between southern separatists, who are allied to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and forces loyal to the Saudi-based government risk crippling their once united war against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen’s north.

The fighting subsided by the evening after Prime Minister Ahmed bin Daghr ordered a truce and instructed forces loyal to the government to return to barracks, witnesses said.

By evening, some shops were open but the streets were mostly deserted.

Yemen has been torn apart by three years of conflict between the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Houthi, and the factional fighting in the south compounds the misery.

The fighting broke out after the expiry of a deadline set last week by separatists from the Southern Transitional Council (STC) for Hadi to dismiss the bin Daghr government, accusing it of corruption and mismanagement. The government denies this.

Gunmen were deployed throughout most of Aden’s districts and there was heavy automatic gunfire and explosions in the southern port city, according to Reuters witnesses.

Armed separatists appeared to gain the upper hand by wresting a key military base in Khor Maksar district in northern Aden and several government buildings from soldiers loyal to Hadi, local newspaper Aden al-Ghad reported on its website.

Residents said that hundreds of pro-Southern demonstrators had gathered in a main square.

Hospitals said at least nine fighters and one woman were killed in the fighting. International medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said 86 wounded people were being treated, including seven people from one family whose car was hit by a shell.


Bin Daghr had earlier denounced the separatists’ actions as a coup and said the outcome of the contest in Aden was in the hands of their backers, the UAE, who enjoy overall control in the city. He said the situation was headed toward “a comprehensive military confrontation … (which is) a direct gift to the Houthis and Iran”.

“This is a serious matter and the coalition and Arabs as a whole must move to save the situation,” bin Daghr wrote in a message on his Facebook page. “The matter is in their hands and the hope, as we in the government see it, is on the (United Arab) Emirates.”

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the UAE’s stand was “clear and principled in supporting the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia”.

The STC accused bin Daghr’s government of attacking peaceful protesters and urged Hadi to sack the prime minister and his cabinet.

“The STC holds the bin Daghr government fully responsible after it violated the Arab coalition’s call for calm and used weapons to prevent demonstrators from reaching the parades square,” it said in a statement.


Although Hadi remains in exile in Saudi Arabia, his administration and local allies nominally control about four-fifths of Yemen’s territory, but political and military leaders in Aden now want to revive the former independent state of South Yemen.

A top military adviser to Hadi, Mohammed Ali al-Miqdashi, said any move toward rebellion would render the southerners an enemy.

“There is no difference between the Houthis and anyone else who rebels against the legitimate government, no matter who they are – left, right, south, east,” said Miqdashi, speaking at a remote military base near the central Yemeni city of Marib, late on Saturday.

(Additional reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi, writing by Noah Browning and Sami Aboudi,; Editing by Jane Merriman and Keith Weir)

Arab countries need to rally around the “Arab axis” of Saudi Arabia and Egypt — UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash says

December 27, 2017

DUBAI (Reuters) – A senior UAE diplomat said on Wednesday the Arab world would not be led by Turkey, the Gulf State’s first comment on Ankara since a quarrel broke out last week over a retweet by the Emirati foreign minister that President Tayyip Erdogan called an insult.


FILE PHOTO: Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for the United Arab Emirates, Anwar Gargash

Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, said there was a need for Arab countries to rally around the “Arab axis” of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“The sectarian and partisan view is not an acceptable alternative, and the Arab world will not be led by Tehran or Ankara,” he wrote on his official Twitter page.

Last week, Turkey summoned the charge d‘affaires at the UAE embassy in Ankara, after UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahayan shared a tweet that accused Turkish troops of looting the holy city of Medina a century ago.

Erdogan himself lashed out: “Some impertinent man sinks low and goes as far as accusing our ancestors of thievery … What spoiled this man? He was spoiled by oil, by the money he has,” the Turkish leader said at an awards ceremony.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu newspaper reported on Saturday that Turkey planned to rename the street where the UAE embassy is located in Ankara after Fakhreddin Pasha, the commander of the Ottoman Turkish troops at Medina in 1916. Medina, the holiest site in Islam after Mecca, is now in Saudi Arabia.

The UAE sees itself as a bulwark against political forms of Islam, and views Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted ruling AK party as a supporter of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, which it opposes.

Editing by Peter Graff

Spotlight on Qatar as Gulf gears up for summit

December 4, 2017


© AFP / by Omar Hassan Abdulla | A picture taken on December 4, 2017 shows a general view of the meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of foreign ministers at the Bayan palace in Kuwait City

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – Gulf foreign ministers gathered Monday in Kuwait on the eve of an annual summit bringing together Qatar and its feuding neighbours despite little hope for an end to the bitter rift.Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani will be at the summit, but less than 24 hours before it was due to begin it was still unclear whether the rulers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain would also attend.

Those three Gulf states, together with Egypt, cut all ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing the gas-rich emirate of supporting Islamist extremists and of being too close to Shiite Iran, Riyadh’s arch-rival. Qatar denies the allegations.

Mediation efforts led by Kuwait have failed to resolve what is the worst crisis to hit the Gulf Cooperation Council in its 36-year history, casting serious doubts over the future of the six-state alliance.

As Kuwait readied to host the two-day GCC summit, analysts said its efforts to bring about a peaceful end to the crisis may be at a complete standstill.

“The crisis is too deep and very complicated… I don’t think it will be resolved during the summit,” said independent Kuwaiti political analyst Saleh al-Saeedi.

“But I think Kuwait hopes to at least freeze the dispute, stop its deterioration and move on to the next step.”

Founded in 1981, the GCC is a political and economic union grouping Qatar with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as Oman and Kuwait.

Qatar has accused the Saudi-led Arab bloc of aiming to incite a change of regime in Doha.

Besides the Qatari emir, it is still unclear who will attend.

Oman has said it will be sending a senior official to represent its ruler Sultan Qaboos, who traditionally stays away from summits.

The other GCC states have yet to announce who they would be sending, although some Kuwaiti media have reported Saudi King Salman may attend.

– Once-powerful bloc threatened –

On Monday, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar attended round-table talks ahead of the gathering, in their first such encounter since the diplomatic crisis erupted in June.

Oman Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Yussef bin Alawi sat between them at the meeting which the foreign ministers of the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait also attended.

After cutting off all ties with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed a land, sea and air blockade of the emirate and issued a list of 13 demands to have it lifted.

Bahrain in October openly called for Qatar’s membership of the GCC to be suspended until it accepted the demands.

Experts warn that the crisis could lead to the demise of the once-powerful GCC.

“The justifications for the existence of the GCC bloc amidst the continued crisis are no longer present like before,” said Sami al-Faraj, head of the Kuwait Center for Strategic Studies.

“As long as our enemy has changed from Iran to Qatar, the GCC will not continue.”

The failure of the GCC members to solidify long-delayed plans for economic unity may also threaten its future.

The Gulf states have approved a customs union, a common market, a single currency and a single central bank but most of these have yet to be properly implemented.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting, Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah stressed the determination of member states to preserve the GCC.

“The GCC is a continuous project in which the will of member states meets to build a unified Gulf body,” he said.

GCC chief Abdullatif al-Zayyani told the meeting that the region’s difficulties coupled with security and political challenges required members to consolidate solidarity and unity.

by Omar Hassan Abdulla

Qatari, Saudi ministers at summit talks despite Gulf spat

December 4, 2017


© AFP | Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani at the GCC foreign ministers’ meeting in Kuwait City on December 4, 2017

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar attended round-table talks Monday ahead of a regional Gulf summit, in their first such encounter since Riyadh cut all ties with Doha.The meeting was also attended by UAE state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash and Bahrain’s assistant foreign minister, Abdullah al-Dossari.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, as well as Egypt on June 5 severed all political and economic relations with tiny gas-rich Qatar.

They accused the emirate of backing extremist groups, a charge it denied.

There have been no contacts between the two sides since then.

Oman’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Yussef bin Alawi sat between Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir.

Monday’s meeting, which was also attended by the foreign ministers of Kuwait and Oman, is to prepare the agenda for the GCC annual summit in Kuwait City on December 5 and 6.

Founded in 1981, the GCC is a political and economic union grouping Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, as well as Oman and Kuwait.

It was not immediately known if the foreign ministers and the leaders at the summit will discuss the worst political dispute in the GCC’s 36-year history.

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is attending the summit, but it was not immediately known who will represent Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

Qatar should “stop snivelling and do what it must,” says UAE minister — Qatar looks “desperate”

October 30, 2017

The Associated Press

Dubai: Qatar’s emir has warned against any military confrontation over the ongoing diplomatic dispute between his country and four other Arab nations, saying it would only plunge the region into chaos.

His comments drew immediate criticism early Sunday from Emirati Minister of State for International Affairs Anwar Gargash.

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Anwar Gargash

“To go to the Western media and attack Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates at this point is desperate,” Gargash wrote on Twitter.

Qatar “should accept its isolation without snivelling and do what it must.”

The four countries boycotting Qatar allege the natural gas-rich nation funds extremists, and are opposed to its support for Islamist opposition groups and ties to Iran, with which it shares a massive gasfield. Doha has long denied funding extremists.

Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani said US President Donald Trump has offered to host a meeting between Qatar and its opponents — Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — to end the crisis between the American allies.

Speaking to the American television network CBS’s ‘60 Minutes’ news programme, Shaikh Tamim said: “It was supposed to be very soon, this meeting,” he said.

The threat of a military confrontation between the countries loomed in the initial days following the start of the boycott on June 5.

Arabic language media in the boycotting nations suggested the need for a “Peninsula Shield” operation, which is the military arm of the Gulf Cooperation Council, though government officials downplayed the idea at the time.

Saudi and UAE forces attached to Peninsula Shield previously deployed into Bahrain to put down its 2011 Arab Spring protests.

In the ‘60 Minutes” interview, which will air Sunday night in the US, Shaikh Tamim said: “I’m fearful that if anything happens, if any military act happens, this region will be in chaos.”

UAE reacts angrily to Qatar’s restoration of Iran ties

August 27, 2017

Persian Gulf

Sat Aug 26, 2017 7:58AM

Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s state minister for foreign affairs (Photo by AP)
Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s state minister for foreign affairs (Photo by AP)

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has denounced Qatar’s recent decision to restore full diplomatic ties with Iran, accusing Doha of undermining chances to resolve a rift between several Arab countries of the Persian Gulf and Qatar.

Following in the footsteps of Saudi Arabia, Qatar had recalled its ambassador to Tehran last year. Unlike Riyadh, however, Doha had not cut all diplomatic ties with Iran.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Qatari Foreign Ministry announced that the Persian Gulf Arab country was upgrading its ties to Iran back to the ambassadorial level.

On Thursday, and in reaction to that news, Emirati State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash questioned the reasoning behind Doha’s move.

Qatar’s “sovereign decision should not be shy or confused, but its arrogance and adolescent behavior makes it so. Its justification is not convincing,” he said in angry tweets.

“The management of the crisis caused the burning of bridges, the squandering of sovereignty and the deepening of the Qatari crisis and undermined what remained of the mediator’s chances,” he snapped.

Gargash’s country has, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt, cut its relations with Qatar and attempted to boycott the country.

Since June, the countries have also imposed a trade embargo on Qatar, accusing it of supporting “terrorism.” Doha rejects the allegation and suggests it is being targeted because it has been following foreign policies that are more independent of Saudi Arabia.

The boycotting countries later issued a list of demands for Qatar to meet in order for the dispute to be resolved. One of those demands was that Qatar further downgrade ties with Iran. Doha rejected all of those requests and said they showed how the accusation of “terror” sponsorship had been just a pretext.

Soon after the dispute erupted among the Arab countries, Iran announced that its position was one of neutrality, making it clear that it would not be using the rift for political scores.

As the Saudi-led siege threatened to cause shortages of food and vital goods in Qatar, Iran started sending shipments of foodstuffs to the Arab country on humanitarian grounds, as did a number of other countries.

The Islamic Republic has now welcomed Qatar’s recent move to restore high-level diplomatic ties with Iran.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s principled and permanent policy has been and will be enhancing relations with all its neighbors,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said after the Qatari announcement.

Yemen’s rebel alliance unravels in Sanaa

August 23, 2017


© AFP / by Natacha Yazbeck | A poster bearing the portrait of Yemen’s ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh and announcing the 35th anniversary of the establishment of his party is seen in the capital Sanaa on August 19, 2017
DUBAI (AFP) – An alliance between Huthi rebels and Yemen strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, which jointly controls the capital Sanaa, has begun to unravel, threatening to further splinter a country already ravaged by war.Witnesses say armed supporters of Saleh and the Huthis have spread across the city on the eve of a mass rally to mark the 35th anniversary of ex-president Saleh’s General People’s Congress, sparking fears of an intensification of violence in a country already ravaged by war, cholera and famine.

For three years, the Saleh-Huthi alliance has fought the Saudi-backed government for control of Yemen in a war that has decimated the lives of millions and brought the country to the brink of starvation.


Tension between Saleh and the Huthis is at an unprecedented high, threatening an unlikely alliance that has long been viewed as tactical at best.

The two sides have flung mutual accusations of treason over the past week, culminating on Wednesday in an open threat by the Iran-backed rebels who said Saleh would have to “bear the consequences” after he dismissed his allies as “militias” in a weekend speech.

– Enemy of my enemy –

Saleh’s history with the rebels is long and complicated.

The Yemeni strongman, now 75, has waged six wars against the Huthis since the late 1970s, when he was president of then-independent north Yemen and allied with Saudi Arabia, which leads the Arab coalition now backing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

Saleh was elected Yemen’s first president when the country unified in 1990 and remained in power until 2012, resigning after a year of protests-turned-clashes in a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council that guaranteed him and his family immunity.

He was succeeded by Hadi, then vice president, who emerged as his biggest political rival.

Saleh pulled an about-face in 2014 and realigned himself at the side of Abdul Malik al-Huthi, the Zaidi Shiite leader of the rebel Ansar Allah movement with ties to Riyadh’s archrival Iran.

The Huthis drove the Hadi government out of the capital and into Aden, Hadi’s hometown in southern Yemen.

Saleh and Huthi continue to control the capital, where the former president’s influence has not waned five years after his reluctant resignation.

By 2016, Saleh had reached a power-sharing pact with the insurgents and ran a parallel government from Sanaa in an alliance insiders and analysts have long warned would not last.

“On both ends, it has been a common enemy… keeping both sides together,” said Adam Baron, a fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“With the expulsion of the Huthis from much of the south, that common enemy has disappeared; thus, it’s not shocking that the grudging alliance between southern secessionists and the internationally backed government has devolved into deep tensions.”

The common enemy began to come apart at the seams in April, when Hadi fired Aden governor Aidarous al-Zoubeidi and Hani bin Breik, a member of his cabinet.

Both Zoubeidi and bin Breik have historically favoured reinstating southern Yemen’s autonomy and went on to announce the establishment of the Southern Transitional Council, with support from local communities and reportedly from the United Arab Emirates, a key player in the Arab coalition.

Saleh for his part is also drawing on his popular reach in Sanaa, which until 2014 had been largely off-limits to the Huthis, confined to the northern Saada province.

Saleh and the Huthis have had a tacit agreement in sharing Sanaa: the ex-president lacks the muscle the insurgents can provide, and Saleh’s structural and popular power in the capital is unparalleled.

That delicate power balance may be tested in Thursday’s rally, which Saleh has said will be a demonstration of support for “legitimacy” in Yemen.

– ‘Mosaic of alliances’ –

Analysts say both Saleh and the residents of Sanaa are not happy with the Huthis, who control the defence ministry and military intelligence.

“People are not necessarily coming out in support of Saleh, but in protest against the Huthis,” said Yemeni analyst Maged al-Madhaji, director of the Sanaa Centre for Strategic Studies.

“The Huthis are well aware that Saleh needs them, so over the past year-and-a-half they’ve worked on the military, political and social fronts to try and gain some of the popular support that Saleh has.”

This, coupled with reports that Saudi Arabia is looking to cut back on its involvement in the Yemen war, may spell the end of what analyst Baron calls an “alliance of convenience” between Saleh and the Huthis.

Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, a source in Saleh’s General People’s Congress said attempts to mediate this week with the Huthis had failed.

The source also said Saudi Arabia would be happy to see its former ally split from the Huthis but was not yet ready to take Saleh back into the fold.

“Effectively, the conflict in Yemen has never been a two-sided war — this is something that’s been characterised by a mosaic of alliances of convenience from the start,” said Baron.

“All things are possible in Yemen, and there have definitely been feelers going out in all sorts of directions for some time now.”

by Natacha Yazbeck

Yemen: Pro-Houthi Fighters Call Powerful Ally ‘Evil’, Escalating Feud — Ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh “transgressed a red line” — Part of Yemen’s self-made human catastrophe

August 23, 2017

DUBAI — Fighters loyal to the armed Houthi movement on Wednesday decried as “evil” the group’s main ally in Yemen’s civil war, ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, widening an unusual public rift as they fight a Saudi-led coalition for control of the country.

The “Popular Committees”, a body of rank and file pro-Houthi combatants, condemned Saleh’s description of them in a speech as a “militia,” criticizing the former leader who remains one of Yemen’s most powerful politicians and military figures.

“What (Saleh) said transgressed a red line and he could have only fallen into this because he’s evil and void of every good, patriotic or religious characteristic,” the collection of tribal and volunteer fighters said in a statement.

The tactical alliance between Saleh and the Houthis has often appeared fragile, with both groups suspicious of each other’s ultimate motives and sharing little ideological ground.

Image result for Yemen, photos, august 2017

An internally displaced woman and her daughter look over the city of Sana’a, Yemen, from the roof of this dilapidated building they call their new home. Photo: Giles Clarke/UN OCHA

While president, Saleh waged six wars against the Houthis from 2002 to 2009 and was for many years an ally of convenience for Saudi Arabia.

Big switches of loyalty are a feature of Yemen’s byzantine political landscape, particularly since 2011 “Arab Spring” unrest which led to Saleh’s fall in 2012.

A war of words has escalated in recent days between the Iran-allied Houthis and Saleh, who together run northern Yemen.

The two factions have traded barbs on responsibility for challenges such as unemployment and mounting hunger after 2-1/2 years of fighting the internationally recognized government, based in the south and backed by the Saudi-led coalition.

The alliance intervened in the civil war in 2015 to restore the government to power in the capital Sanaa. But the conflict, which has killed at least 10,000 people, is in stalemate.

At least 30 people were killed in an air strike that hit a small hotel north of Sanaa on Wednesday, the Houthis said. The Saudi-led coalition has controlled Yemeni air space since the war began.

Based in the southern port city of Aden, the government struggles to impose its writ over militias and armed groups there, but strife now looms for its northern foes.

In a speech on Sunday, Saleh summoned party supporters to hold a mass rally in Sanaa on Aug. 24, a planned show of force that has deeply irritated the Houthis.

Their leadership convened on Wednesday and recommended the announcement of a state of emergency and suspension of all “party activity”, telling Saleh’s supporters any mass gatherings should be made on battlefronts, not in public squares.

In comments that may deepen Houthi suspicions, the United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, spoke approvingly of the rift, saying it “may represent an opportunity to break (Yemen’s) political deadlock.”

(Reporting by Noah Browning; editing by William Maclean and Mark Heinrich)


Yemen’s self-made human catastrophe

18 August 2017 – Warning about escalating suffering in Yemen’s man-made catastrophe, senior United Nations officials today addressed the Security Council, calling on the international community to push for a political solution to the more than two-year-old conflict.

“Death looms for Yemenis by air, land and sea,” Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed told the 15-member Council in New York.

Reiterating one of the key points from Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, who addressed the Council just moment earlier, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that that diseases and epidemics are at unprecedented levels in Yemen.

“Those who survived cholera will continue to suffer the consequences of ‘political cholera’ that infects Yemen and continues to obstruct the road towards peace,” added Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

He noted that while the international community is united in its support of a peaceful solution, certain parties to the conflict take advantage of internal divisions and focus on personal interests.

“What is missing at this point is for the parties to the conflict, without any delays, excuses or procrastination, to demonstrate their intention to end the war and put the national interest above ay personal gains,” the UN envoy said.

Every day without serious action means more destruction and death, as well as the spread of terrorist groupsUN envoy for Yemen

Every day spent without serious action means more destruction and death, he said, as well as the spread of terrorist groups – such as the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – and “uncontrolled migration” through the Gulf of Aden to Yemen, where more than 41 migrants died in early August after being forced to abandon their boats and jump.

Before the conflict, Yemen had been making progress, with fewer people hungry and rising school enrolment, Mr. O’Brien said in his statement.

“All of his has not been sharply reversed,” he said, noting that 17 million Yemenis are hungry, nearly 7 million facing famine, and about 16 million lack access to water or sanitation.

Mr. O’Brien highlighted several key challenges, including a funding shortage – the $2.3 billion Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan is only 39 per cent funded.

He also underscored the interference to movement of critical commercial and humanitarian supplies and staff.

“De facto authorities in Sana’a or local officials in areas under their control block, delay or otherwise interfere with humanitarian action,” said Mr. O’Brien.

The humanitarian official urged the international community to ensure that all ports are open to civilian, including to commercial traffic.

He called for those Governments and individuals with influence to influence the fighting parties to respect the international humanitarian and human rights law and to strengthen accountability.

With 1.2 million public employees not paid regularly for months, he also urged that civil servant salaries be paid so that the basic services in the country do not collapse.

“This human tragedy is deliberate and wanton – it is political and, with will and with courage which are both in short supply, it is stoppable,” he said, reiterating the UN’s ongoing calls for a political solution to the conflict.

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

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.

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

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