Posts Tagged ‘Bahrain’

Kuwait’s emir calls for end to media campaigns in Gulf region — They threaten the unity of the Gulf

December 9, 2018

Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah, called for an end to media campaigns in the region which threatened the unity of the Gulf, during his speech on Sunday at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Saudi Arabia.

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Reporting by Marwa Rashad and Stephen Kalin in Riyadh; Writing by Tuqa Khalid in Dubai; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg



Bahrain criticizes Qatar emir for not attending GCC summit

December 9, 2018

Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheih Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, criticized Qatar’s emir in a tweet on Sunday for not attending an annual Gulf Arab summit being held in Saudi Arabia.

Image result for Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa,, pictures

Sheih Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa

Qatar sent its state minister for foreign affairs to the summit, which is taking place amid a bitter dispute between Doha and three Gulf Arab states who severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar in mid-2017.

“Qatar’s emir should have accepted the fair demands (of the boycotting states) and attended the summit,” Sheikh Khalid said in his tweet.

Reporting by Tuqa Khalid; Editing by Gareth Jones


GCC summit cut short by a day

UAE says Gulf Arab bloc still strong despite Qatar row

December 6, 2018

The United Arab Emirates said on Thursday the Gulf Cooperation Council remained valid despite a bitter row with Qatar that has fractured the bloc ahead of an annual summit next week.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and non-GCC member Egypt have imposed a diplomatic and economic boycott on Qatar since June 2017 over Doha supports terrorism.

Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash. (File/AFP)

“The main success of the council is in its economic aspects and the creation of a Gulf common market,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted.

“The political crisis will end when the cause behind it ends and that is Qatar’s support of extremism and its interference in the stability of the region.”

Last week, Qatar abruptly announced it was quitting OPEC after 57 years to focus on gas.


Tehran-Beirut cargo flight sparks concerns Iran arming Hezbollah directly

November 30, 2018

Israeli, western officials suspect ostensibly civilian airlines, which once used Syria as a conduit, are bringing advanced military equipment into Lebanon for use against Israel

Illustrative: A Qeshm Fars Air cargo plane (Wikimedia commons)

Illustrative: A Qeshm Fars Air cargo plane (Wikimedia commons)

An Iranian cargo plane allegedly transporting advanced weaponry to the Hezbollah terror group was spotted flying directly from Tehran to Beirut on Thursday morning, hours before Israel allegedly conducted airstrikes on pro-Iranian targets in Syria.

Israeli and American security officials have long claimed that Iran has been supplying Lebanon’s Hezbollah with advanced munitions by shipping them through ostensibly civilian airlines, including the one that flew into Lebanon on Thursday: Fars Air Qeshm.

However, these cargo planes typically unload their materiel in Syria or stop there en route to Beirut, rather than flying directly into Lebanon, where Hezbollah is based.

According to publicly available flight data, Fars Air Qeshm flight number QFZ-9964 left Tehran shortly after 8:00 a.m., flew over Iraq, cut northwest into Syria and then landed in Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport some two hours later.

Later, the Boeing 747 jet flew to Doha in Qatar before returning to Tehran.

Iran’s Fars Air Qeshm flight number QFZ-9964 travels directly from Tehran to Beirut on November 29, 2018. (Screen capture: FlightRadar24)

On Thursday evening, the Israel Defense Forces indicated that the plane had been carrying weapons into Beirut.

Without specifically mentioning the flight, the army’s Arabic-language spokesperson Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee tweeted that Lebanon should stop allowing Iranian planes bring war materiel into the country, along with a black-and-white satellite photograph of Rafik Hariri International Airport.

افيخاي ادرعي


التي تسمح بهبوط طائرات إيرانية تحاولون من خلالها نقل أسلحة من

See افيخاي ادرعي’s other Tweets

US special representative for Iran Brian Hook said Thursday that Washington has “evidence that Iran is helping Hezbollah build missile production facilities” in Lebanon, without elaborating.

He accused Iran of brazenly exporting missiles to Afghanistan and Yemen, in violation of UN arms bans, including at least one with Persian writing on it.

“The conspicuous Farsi markings is Iran’s way of saying they don’t mind being caught violating UN arms restrictions,” he said.

Brian Hook, US special representative for Iran, walks past fragments of Iranian short range ballistic missiles (Qiam) at the Iranian Materiel Display (IMD) at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, in Washington, Thursday Nov. 29, 2018. The presentation displays weapons and fragments of weapons seized in Afghanistan, Bahrain and Yemen that the US said are evidence Iran is a “grave and escalating threat” that must be stopped. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Hook called for increased world pressure on Iran and told journalists at a briefing that the intercepted Iranian weapons presented “irrefutable evidence” that Iran’s destabilizing activity in the region “is a problem that’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.”

When asked for data that would support administration claims that Iran is increasing support for destabilizing activities in the region, Hook said Iran has spent over $16 billion since 2013 supporting militia forces in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, but did not specify if that spending has increased in recent years.

“Iran must stop testing and proliferating missiles, stop launching and developing nuclear-capable missiles, and stop supporting militias in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, and Yemen,” he said.

Reported airstrikes on pro-Iran sites in Syria

The Tehran-Beirut flight came hours before Israel reportedly launched a series of airstrikes against Iranian and pro-Iranian sites in Syria on Thursday night.

According to media reports and claims by the Syrian military, missiles were fired at targets in and around Damascus, in southern Syrian near the Israeli border and along the Damascus-Beirut highway, which runs to Lebanon.

It was not immediately clear if the two incidents were related to one another.

Fars Air Qeshm has previously been identified as one of several airlines allegedly acting as transporters of weapons systems for the Iranian military. Some of these have been targeted by US sanctions, though Fars Air Qeshm has not.

Last month, the airline reportedly transferred advanced GPS components to Hezbollah that would allow the terrorist group to make previously unguided rockets into precision guided-missiles, thus increasing the threat to Israel.

A Fars Air Qeshm airplane was also reportedly bombed in an Israeli strikein September, the target of which was machinery used in the production of the precision missiles, which was en route to Hezbollah, The Times of Israel learned at the time.

The remains of a suspected Iranian aircraft which was hit in an Israeli airstrike, Damascus, September 18, 2018 (ImageSat International (ISI/Ynet)

During the Israeli air raid, a Russian spy plane was inadvertently shot down by Syrian air defenses, which Moscow blames on Israel.

Israeli officials have repeatedly expressed concern about Hezbollah acquiring precision-guided missiles.

The Iran-backed terrorist militia, with whom Israel fought a punishing war in 2006, maintains an arsenal of over 100,000 rockets and missiles — a larger stock than some European armies, with the capacity to strike anywhere in Israel.

This frame grab from video released on July 22, 2017, and provided by the government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media, shows Hezbollah fighters firing a missile at positions of al-Qaeda-linked militants in an area on the Lebanon-Syria border. (Syrian Central Military Media, via AP)

“The difference is accuracy. Missiles are much more accurate, and now there is a tendency [for Iran] to give precision strike capability to its proxies or clients,” Brig. Gen. Ram Yavne, the head of the army’s strategy division, said earlier this month.

“They are far, far from there, but just imagine to yourself, that they can launch not a rocket that — when you look at the chances — only a few of them would hit an urban area or strategic site, but a very precise missile that can hit much more directly a strategic site in Israel,” he said.

In September, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brandished pictures of what he said were Hezbollah missile facilities inside Beirut, including near the airport. Lebanon denied the claim, taking media and diplomats on a tour of some of the sites days later.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York September 27, 2018, and holds up a placard detailing alleged Hezbollah missile sites in Beirut. (AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

In recent years, Israel has acknowledged conducting hundreds of airstrikes in Syria, which it says were aimed at both preventing Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria and blocking the transfer of advanced munitions to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Israeli Air Force has largely abstained from conducting raids inside Lebanon itself, though it has indicated that it was prepared to do so.

Earlier this year, IAF chief Amiram Norkin showed visiting generals a picture of an Israeli F-35 stealth fighter flying next to Beirut’s airport, in what was seen as a direct message to Hezbollah.

Times of Israel staff and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bahrain ‘rejects’ attacks targeting Saudi’s reputation

November 26, 2018

Bahrain has said it “completely rejects” attempts to tarnish the reputation of neighbouring Saudi Arabia, whose powerful crown prince has been under intense scrutiny since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was in Manama Sunday night for talks with Bahrain’s King Hamad as part of a regional tour, the state-run Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported.

“The king reiterated Bahrain’s complete rejection of attempts targeting Saudi Arabia,” said a statement carried by BNA on Monday.

© Saudi Royal Palace/AFP | Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) meets Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa in Manama during a regional tour, in a handout picture from the Saudi royal palace on November 25, 2018

“Saudi Arabia is a nation of security, safety, justice and rights.”

Prince Mohammed visited Abu Dhabi Thursday as he began his first tour abroad since the murder of the Saudi journalist in October.

Saudi Arabia has been facing intense global criticism over the killing of insider-turned-critic Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate.

The murder of the Washington Post columnist has tipped the kingdom into one of its worst crises.

He was killed and reportedly dismembered in what Saudi Arabia said was a “rogue” operation.

Prince Mohammed began his regional tour at the request of his father, King Salman, according to the Saudi Press Agency, which said he would visit “brotherly” Arab countries.

The Egyptian presidency said the prince is due to arrive in Cairo later Monday for talks with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

He is also set to travel to the Tunisian capital on Tuesday, a presidential source in Tunis told AFP.

Prince Mohammed is expected to attend the G20 summit in Argentina next week.


Israel said working to forge ties with Bahrain amid unprecedented Gulf opening

November 26, 2018

News of effort to normalize relations with Manama comes after reports that Israel is eyeing ties with Sudan, as Chadian leader makes historic visit to Israel

Bahraini voters queue outside a polling station in the Bahraini city of Al-Muharraq, north of Manama on November 24, 2018, as they wait to cast their vote in the parliamentary election. (AFP)

Bahraini voters queue outside a polling station in the Bahraini city of Al-Muharraq, north of Manama on November 24, 2018, as they wait to cast their vote in the parliamentary election. (AFP)

Israel is working to normalize ties with Bahrain, as Jerusalem ramps up its drive to forge more open relations with the Arab world amid shifting alliances in the Middle East driven by shared concerns over Iran, Hebrew-language news sites reported late Sunday.

The reports, sourced to an unnamed senior official, did not detail Israel’s efforts to get closer to Manama, but came hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted he would soon travel to unspecified Arab states, during a press conference with visiting Chadian leader Idriss Déby Sunday.

Deby’s historic visit was part of a campaign to lay the groundwork for normalizing ties with Muslim-majority countries Sudan, Mali and Niger, according to a report in Israel’s Channel 10 news Sunday.

The revelation that Israel is actively working to forge closer ties with Bahrain comes as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is visiting the island kingdom. The prince, who is attempting to rehab his image in the West after the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi, is seen as a key part of a US-backed drive for Gulf states to open their doors to Israel amid shared concern over Iran’s expansion in the region.

In May, Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa wrote on Twitter that Israel has the right to defend itself against Iran.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, participates in a ministerial meeting with the foreign ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (US State Department, via AP)

Oman, which has often played the role of regional mediator, welcomed Netanyahu in a surprise visit last month, an apparent sign of Israeli progress in improving ties with Gulf countries.

At a security conference in Bahrain following the visit, Omani foreign minister also offered rare words of support for the Jewish state.

“Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this. The world is also aware of this fact and maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same and also bear the same obligations,” Yussef bin Alawi bin Abdullah said, according to Reuters.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks with Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Oman on October 26, 2018 (Courtesy)

During a press conference with Déby, Netanyahu remarked that “there will be more such visits in Arab countries very soon,” without providing details.

The Israeli premier has for years spoken about the warming ties between Israel and the Arab world, citing not only Iran as a common enemy but also many countries’ interest in cooperating with Israel on security and defense matters, as well as Israel’s growing high-tech industry.

The effort to forge ties with Sudan comes as Khartoum has looked to move closer to Sunni Gulf states after years as an ally of Iran.

In early 2017, Khartoum joined Sunni Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in severing its ties with the Islamic Republic.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir prepares to cast his ballot for the country’s presidential and legislative elections in Khartoum, Sudan, April 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy, File)

At the time, the country also appeared to make overtures toward Israel. Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said in a 2016 interview that Sudan was open to the idea of normalizing ties with Israel in exchange for lifting US sanctions on Khartoum. According Hebrew-language media reports at the time, Israeli diplomats tried to drum up support for Sudan in the international community after it severed its ties to Tehran.

In the past, Sudan has allegedly served as a way-station for the transfer of Iranian weapons to the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza. Israel has reportedly intercepted and destroyed transfers of weapons from Sudan bound for Gaza.

In 2009, the International Criminal Court also issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, relating to the bloody conflict in the western Darfur region.

However, since it broke ties with Iran, Sudan is no longer perceived by Israel as a threat, but rather as a potential ally.

New era

Earlier on Sunday, Déby became the first president of Chad to visit Israel and pledged a new era of relations when meeting Netanyahu, 46 years after ties were severed.

In remarks to journalists after a closed-door meeting, Déby spoke of the two countries committing to a new era of cooperation with “the prospect of reestablishing diplomatic relations.”

Déby said he was “proud” that he had accepted Israel’s official invite. “It can be called breaking the ice,” he said. “We came here indeed with the desire to renew diplomatic relations. Your country is an important country. Your country, like Chad, fights against terrorism.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Chadian President Idriss Deby as they deliver joint statements in Jerusalem, November 25, 2018. (RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP)

Chad, a Muslim-majority, Arabic-speaking country in central Africa, broke off relations with Israel in 1972.

Despite the lack of formal ties, both Deby and Netanyahu on Sunday stressed the centrality of security cooperation between the two countries.

Chad is also one of several African states engaged in Western-backed operations against Boko Haram and Islamic State jihadists in West Africa. Earlier this month, the US donated military vehicles and boats worth $1.3 million to Chad as part of the campaign against Islamist militancy in the country.

File: Chadian soldiers gather on February 1, 2015 near the Nigerian town of Gamboru, just across the border from Cameroon. (AFP/Marle)

Under Deby, Chad’s government has been accused of widespread human rights abuses and rigged elections. He took over the arid, impoverished nation in 1990 and won a disputed fifth term in April 2016.

On Sunday, Chadian security sources were quoted by Reuters saying that Israel had sent Chad arms and money earlier this year to help the country in its fight against Islamist groups. Netanyahu in his remarks to journalists thanked Déby for his visit and hailed “flourishing” ties between Israel and African nations. He declined questions about whether the two leaders discussed potential Israeli arms sales to Chad.

Netanyahu portrayed the unprecedented visit as the result of his hard-won diplomatic efforts, referring to his three visits to Africa over the last couple years and his surprise trip to Oman in October.

According to Israel’s Channel 10, Israel’s diplomatic push in Africa is driven in part by a desire to ease air travel to Latin America. Flying in the airspace of traditionally hostile African countries — namely Chad and Sudan — would allow airlines to offer faster, more direct flights between Israel and the continent.

Channel 10 estimated that flying directly from Israel to Brazil over Sudan would shave some four hours off the average journey, which currently takes at least 17 hours, and requires a stopover in either Europe or North America.

Separately, Hadashot television news reported on Sunday that Netanyahu has secured reassurances from Oman that airlines flying to and from Israel — including national carrier El Al — would be permitted to fly over the kingdom’s airspace. The prime minister received this message during his surprise visit to Muscat last month — the first by an Israeli leader in over 20 years, the television report said.

Agencies contributed to this report.


Bahrain heads to polls amid boycott calls — Shiite opposition banned

November 24, 2018


Bahrainis headed to the polls Saturday amid calls to boycott the parliamentary election in which dissolved opposition groups have been banned from taking part.

The country’s two main opposition groups, the Shiite Al-Wefaq and secular Waad, were barred from fielding candidates, prompting renewed calls for a boycott.

The polls opened at 8am local time (0500 GMT) and are set to close at 8pm.

King Hamad in September urged voters to take part in the vote, in which officials say 293 people — including 41 women — are running for parliament.

© AFP | Polls for the Bahrain elections opened at 8am local time (0500 GMT) and are set to close at 8pm

A municipal poll coincides with the parliamentary vote.

At least six people were detained and charged this month for “obstructing the electoral process”, according to statements released by Bahrain’s public prosecutor.

One of the six was Ali Rashed al-Asheeri, a former member of parliament with Al-Wefaq, according to the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.

Protesters hold photos of Sheikh Ali Salman, Bahrain's main opposition leader who sentenced to life in prison [File: Reuters]
Protesters hold photos of Sheikh Ali Salman, Bahrain’s main opposition leader who sentenced to life in prison [File: Reuters]

Asheeri had tweeted that he and his family would boycott the polls.

Al-Wefaq called for a boycott of this year’s parliamentary election after a law issued in June barred “leaders and members of political associations dissolved for violating the kingdom’s constitution or its laws” from standing.

The tiny Gulf kingdom has been hit by ongoing unrest since 2011, when security forces crushed Shiite-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

Opposition parties shunned the last elections in 2014, the first since the 2011 crackdown, denouncing the vote as a “farce”.

Since 2011, authorities have imprisoned hundreds of dissidents — including top Shiite opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, who headed Al-Wefaq — and stripped many of their nationality.

Amnesty International said Friday it was “gravely concerned” by Bahrain’s suppression of political opposition

“Over the past two years, the crackdown in Bahrain has seen the political opposition detained, intimidated and silenced,” said Devin Kenney, the rights group’s Bahrain researcher, in a statement.

“We call on the authorities to stop this ongoing and escalating repression and to allow free expression of dissenting voices, including those who oppose the monarchy.”

Bahraini authorities accuse Shiite Iran of provoking unrest in the kingdom. Tehran denies the allegation.

Human rights groups have frequently said cases against activists in Bahrain — men and women, religious and secular — fail to meet the basic standards of fair trials.


The US and GCC’s twin strategies toward Iran

November 19, 2018

The US’ Iran strategy is finally out in public and a legitimate question has been raised as to whether the region’s key players, in particular the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), have a similar strategy or are they only reacting to the US’ moves?

I would argue that the GCC has had an Iran strategy in place for some time, the last articulation of which was agreed by the GCC ministers of defense, interior and foreign affairs in 2017, and endorsed by the GCC summit in April 2017. The GCC and US strategies are quite similar and their centerpiece is an enhanced GCC-US Strategic Partnership, established at the May 2016 Camp David summit of heads of state, and reconfirmed in the consequent GCC-US summits of 2016 and 2017.

By Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg
Arab News

In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out the most detailed public articulation of the Trump administration’s strategy on confronting Iran. Pompeo outlined the “Trump doctrine,” which is that Iran is put on notice that the US will not allow its destabilizing activities to go unchecked, and is willing to use force to stop them. In addition, the Trump administration is pursuing a “maximum pressure” campaign designed to choke off revenues that the Iranian regime uses to fund violence throughout the region and to allow its agents to covertly plot around the world.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Getty Images)

What are the most important elements of the GCC strategy toward Iran? The strategy starts by identifying the main sources of threats emanating from Iran: Military and asymmetric, as well as territorial, political, diplomatic, economic and environmental. The strategy addresses each group of threats, outlining the actions required to deal with them. Finally, the strategy includes a political process on how the confrontation could be defused.

While the GCC has been building its own defenses to stop Iran’s extraterritorial reach, it has also several times attempted to engage Iran diplomatically.

Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg

The military threats include nuclear, ballistic and conventional weapons. On Iran’s nuclear program, the GCC has expressed its support for the Trump administration in calling for a revamped deal that removes the so-called sunset clauses and establishes a more robust inspection system to ensure that it is and will remain a peaceful, non-military program.

On Iran’s ballistic missiles program, the GCC strategy calls for a strengthened international regime to supplement the restrictions outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 2231. At the same time, the GCC is building a ballistic missile defense shield in cooperation with the US.

And, finally, to face Iran’s conventional military threats, the GCC is enhancing its military capabilities in the air, on land and at sea, with considerable progress. It has built a unified military structure that includes all services. This process has been brought closer to completion with the recent appointment of Gen. Eid Al-Shalawi as commander of the GCC Unified Military Command — the first in the GCC’s 37-year history.

The most difficult part of confronting Iran is how to deal with its asymmetric threats, mainly its use of terrorism and sectarian strife to destabilize the region and beyond. On confronting Iranian-sponsored terrorism, the GCC and its partners, such as the US and the UK, have developed various tools to disrupt the work of terrorists supported by Iran, especially intercepting and weakening their funding through sanctions. To counter Iran’s sectarian speech and that of its proxies in the region — particularly in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria — the GCC has established various centers to counter the terrorists’ messaging, which is used to recruit and radicalize young people.

Territorial threats include Iran’s occupation of three UAE islands (Greater and Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa), as well as incursions into the GCC’s territorial seas, continental shelf and maritime economic zones, which are rich in oil and minerals.

Environmental threats include the risk of accidents in Iran’s nuclear reactors, especially the Bushehr nuclear plant, which came online a few years ago and is located near a major earthquake fault line. There have been close calls at the facility after some major earthquakes.

While the GCC has been building its own defenses to stop Iran’s extraterritorial reach, it has also several times attempted to engage Iran diplomatically. In 1986, the GCC articulated 10 principles based on the UN Charter and asked Tehran to commit to them, but without success, as Iran was more interested in military solutions at the time of the Iran-Iraq war. There was limited success later, during the presidencies of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989-1997) and Mohammed Khatami (1997-2005). A number of security agreements were signed and a general thaw in relations took place.

That hopeful period was put in abeyance with the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but the GCC continued to engage Iran during his presidency, without success. The Arab Spring events of 2011 led to a break in the dialogue because Iran saw it as an opportunity to pursue its goals without having to change its behavior or engage with its neighbors. It succeeded in extending its hegemony to Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. It attempted to do the same thing in Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia but failed.

Despite an energized Iranian interventionist policy throughout the region, the GCC has identified a political process. In response to an Iranian message in 2016 to start a new page, the GCC sent a letter through Kuwait to Iran, suggesting a course of action to build confidence and engage peacefully. Thus, while the GCC is enhancing its own elements of power — military, economic and cultural — it is also leaving the door open for a political solution to defuse the conflict with Iran.

  • Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg is the GCC Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs & Negotiation, and a columnist for Arab News. The views expressed in this piece are personal and do not necessarily represent GCC views. Twitter: @abuhamad1
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view

Qatar warns of ‘long-lasting’ impact of Gulf crisis

November 6, 2018

Qatar’s ruler said Tuesday “crises pass” but warned of “long-lasting” scars from a diplomatic dispute that has seen Doha isolated by Saudi Arabia and its allies for more than a year.

In an annual address to the nation, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani pointedly called on other Gulf states to respect Qatar’s sovereignty and not “interfere” in other countries’ affairs.

“History teaches us that crises pass, but their mismanagement may leave behind long-lasting effects,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said.

Once allies, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have imposed a near-total embargo on Qatar since June 2017 over allegations the emirate supports radical Islamist groups and seeks closer ties with Riyadh’s arch-rival Tehran.

© AFP/File | Qatar’s ruler has warned of “long-lasting” scars from a diplomatic dispute that has seen the energy-rich emirate isolated by Saudi Arabia and its allies for more than a year

Qatar denies the charges, accusing its neighbours of seeking regime change.

The emir said the Qatari economy had not been damaged by the boycott, adding that the country would retain its position as the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.

“Our oil and gas exports have not been affected by the blockade,” he said.

“The state has been keen on fulfilling all its obligations under the existing contracts and has concluded several long-term contracts, the latest of which was with Petro China.”

The crisis has thrown into the spotlight Qatar’s preparations for the 2022 World Cup, which have been plagued with allegations of labour rights violations.

Sheikh Tamim said the preparations were “not easy” but the state was continuing to provide funding for international football’s showpiece tournament.

Qatar is spending around $500 million a week to prepare for 2022.



Qatar’s Emir says he regrets the conflict with Quartet — As Turkey hammers Saudi over Khashoggi, Arab World stays together

November 6, 2018

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said on Tuesday he regrets the continuation of conflict with other Arab states, but added that “crises will pass,” outlining the nation’s economic achievements over the past year.

The Emir said he regretted the conflict, but said he believed ‘crisis will pass’. (File/AP)

The country would continue to develop its oil and gas industries as it is keen to preserve its status as the top liquefied natural gas exporter in the world, and that the country had grown its exports by 18 percent last year and slashed spending by 20 percent, Tamim said in a speech to the Arab state’s shoura council.

Qatar’s currency has preserved its value since the start of the rift last year and the economy has diversified to overcome the impact of sanctions imposed by other Arab states, Tamim said.



Image result for Erdogan with Muhammad bin Salman, photos
Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

See also:

In Saudi Arabia, Washington Post’s coverage of Khashoggi killing fuels calls for Amazon boycott


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks during the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Oct. 24, 2018. (Handout .Reuters)