Posts Tagged ‘Bahrain’

Qatar Airways seeks 10% stake in American Airlines

June 22, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Qatar Airways has notified American Airlines it wants to buy about a 10 percent stake in the US carrier, which confirmed the move in a securities filing

NEW YORK (AFP) – Qatar Airways has notified American Airlines it wants to buy about a 10 percent stake in the US carrier, which confirmed the move Thursday in a securities filing.Qatar Airways disclosed that it planned to buy at least $808 million in shares, and Qatar Airways’ chief executive told his counterpart at American that the carrier sought a stake of about 10 percent, American Airlines said.

“The proposed investment by Qatar Airways was not solicited by American Airlines and would in no way change the Company’s Board composition, governance, management or strategic direction,” American said in the filing.

The move comes as Qatar faces conflict with neighboring countries after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates severed ties over Doha’s alleged support for extremist groups and Iran. The countries have suspended all flights to and from Qatar.

Qatar’s government denies all the allegations.

American, for its part, also has had its differences with Qatar Airways, among other Middle Eastern carriers, over state subsidies the US air travel industry believes violate trade agreements.

The Qatar stake in American “does not alter American Airlines’ conviction on the need to enforce the Open Skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates and the nation of Qatar and ensure fair competition with Gulf carriers, including Qatar Airways,” American said in the filing.

“American Airlines continues to believe that the President and his administration will stand up to foreign governments to end massive carrier subsidies that threaten the US aviation industry and that threaten American jobs.”

Shares of American shot up 5.2 percent in pre-market trading to $50.90.

Iran sends 1,100 tonnes of food to Qatar daily

June 22, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Iran began exporting food to Qatar days after an unprecedented Gulf crisis erupted, leaving the emirate without the land transport links it relies on to import food
TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran is shipping more than 1,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables to Qatar every day after Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia cut relations with Doha, Fars news agency reported Thursday.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain are among several countries which announced on June 5 the suspension of all ties to Qatar over what they say is its support for extremist groups and its political proximity to Iran.

Qatar denies the allegations.

Iran, an arch-rival of Saudi Arabia, began exporting food to Qatar days later as the unprecedented Gulf crisis left the isolated emirate without the land transport links it usually relies on to import food.

Mohammad Mehdi Bonchari, director of ports in Iran’s Boushehr province, said Tehran was shipping 1,100 tonnes of food each day to Qatar, Fars reported.

Iran has also flown food to the emirate.

On June 11, Iran’s national airline told AFP that it had sent five planes of vegetables to Qatar.

On the same day Fars quoted the head of Iran’s cattle exporting association as saying 66 tonnes of beef had been exported to Qatar, with another 90 tonnes of beef expected to follow.

Qatar’s air lines have been forced to re-route some of their flights to go over Iran to avoid the newly banned skies over Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Bahrain.

That has increased traffic in Iranian air space by 17 percent, the official state news agency has reported.

Iran has urged Qatar and Gulf neighbours to engage in dialogue to resolve their dispute.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called for a permanent mechanism in the Gulf to resolve crises like the blockade against Qatar.

Emirates Wants US, European Monitors for Any Qatar Deal — “The Qataris are still in a state of denial.”

June 20, 2017

BRUSSELS — The United Arab Emirates is calling for a monitoring system to ensure that Qatar respects any future agreement to end the standoff with its Gulf neighbors.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar this month and blocked air, sea and land traffic over its support for Islamist groups and ties with Iran.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in Brussels Tuesday that “we do need to create some sort of monitoring system of Qatar’s obligations.”

He said he hoped U.S. and European officials from countries like Britain, France and Germany could take part to ensure that Qatar does not harbor or fund extremists.

Gargash said he expects the crisis to drag on because “the Qataris are still in a state of denial.”

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One dead in new Bahrain bombing — One Person killed

June 20, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Bahrain has been rocked by unrest among its Shiite majority since 2011, when security forces crushed Shiite-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister

DUBAI (AFP) – A bomb in a Shiite village outside the Bahraini capital has killed one person, the second blast in a suburb of Manama this week, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.The Sunni-ruled Gulf state has been rocked by unrest among its Shiite majority since 2011, when security forces crushed Shiite-led protests demanding a constitutional monarchy and an elected prime minister.

The interior ministry gave no date for the latest bombing saying only that a body discovered on Monday was found to have been killed in a bombing.

“An initial investigation into a body found on a farm in the village of Hajar on June 19 showed the death was the result of a bomb blast,” the ministry said, without elaborating.

Police meanwhile made several arrests in connection with a Sunday night bombing outside Manama that killed a policeman and wounded two others, the ministry said.

That blast struck in the flashpoint village of Diraz, home of the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s Shiite majority, Isa Qassim.

Five people were killed in the village last month when security forces opened fire to disperse a months-long sit-in in protest at measures taken against the cleric by the authorities.

Last year, a court order stripped Qassim of his Bahraini citizenship, a sanction used against dozens of dissidents that has drawn the condemnation of human rights groups.

In May, a court sentenced him to a suspended one-year jail term on charges of money laundering and illegal fundraising.

The Bahraini courts have sentenced dozens of dissidents to long jail terms, many of them on “terrorism” charges.

The authorities have also banned the main Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq — the largest in parliament before 2011 — as well as the main secular opposition group Al-Waad.

Foreign press access is severely restricted in the tiny but strategic island state, which lies between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and is home to the US Fifth Fleet.

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Qatar Says Won’t Negotiate Until Economic Boycott Ends

June 19, 2017

DOHA — Qatar will not negotiate with Arab states that have cut economic and travel ties with it unless they reverse their measures, its foreign minister said, ruling out discussions over Qatar’s internal affairs including Al Jazeera TV.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said Qatar had still not received any demands from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which severed relations two weeks ago, triggering the worst Gulf Arab crisis in years.

Image result for Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, photos

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahmanal-Thani

The countries accuse Qatar of supporting Islamist militants and stirring up unrest, charges Doha denies.

“Qatar is under blockade, there is no negotiation. They have to lift the blockade to start negotiations,” Sheikh Mohammed told reporters in Doha. “Until now we didn’t see any progress about lifting the blockade, which is the precondition for anything to move forward.”

He said Kuwait’s ruler was the sole mediator in the crisis and that he was waiting for specific demands from Gulf states in order to take resolution efforts forward.

“We cannot just have (vague) demands such as ‘the Qataris know what we want from them, they have to stop this or that, they have to be monitored by a foreign monitoring mechanism,'” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Anything that relates to the affairs of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council is subject to negotiation, he said, referring to the body comprising Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.

“Anything not related to them is not subject to negotiation. No one has the right to interfere in my affairs. Al Jazeera is Qatar’s affairs, Qatari foreign policy on regional issues is Qatar’s affairs. And we are not going to negotiate on our own affairs,” he said.

Qatar’s Gulf critics have accused Al Jazeera of being a platform for extremists and an agent of interference in their affairs. The network has rejected those accusations and said it will maintain its editorial independence.

Image result for LNG, Qatar, photos

The crisis has hit civilian travel, some food imports, ratcheted up tensions in the Gulf and sown confusion among businesses. But it has not affected energy exports from Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Sheikh Mohammed said Qatar would rely on other states if the boycott continued, including Saudi Arabia’s arch regional foe Iran.

“We have a back-up plan which depends mainly on Turkey, Kuwait and Oman,” he said. “Iran has facilitated for us the sky passages for our aviation and we are cooperating with all countries that can ensure supplies for Qatar.”

(Reporting by Tom Finn; writing by Sylvia Westall; editing by Mark Heinrich)

Bomb attack kills policeman in Bahrain

June 19, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Sitra in Bahrain is has been shaken by clashes between security forces and Shiite Muslim protestors, according to the interior ministry

DUBAI (AFP) – A “terrorist” bomb attack in a Shiite village in Bahrain has killed a policeman and wounded two others, the interior ministry in the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdom said on Monday.The attack late Sunday occurred in Diraz, west of the capital Manama, the ministry said on its Twitter account.

Witnesses said they heard a loud blast near the home of revered Shiite cleric Isa Qassim, where five people were killed last month when security forces opened fire to disperse a sit-in.

Police blocked all entries into the village after the bombing, witnesses said, adding security forces have been maintaining a cordon around Qassim’s house since the protest dispersal.

Qassim is considered to be the spiritual leader of Bahrain’s majority Shiite community.

The Bahrain authorities sentenced Qassim in May to a suspended one-year jail term for illegal fundraising and money laundering.

A court last year stripped him of his citizenship, sparking repeated sit-ins outside his residence in Diraz.

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

Foreign press access is severely restricted in the archipelago, which is located between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and is home to the US Fifth Fleet.

Saudi detains Turkey media reporters ‘on FM’s visit’

June 17, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, pictured in June 2014, intervened on behalf of the two reporters detained in Mecca
ISTANBUL (AFP) – Saudi Arabia detained two Pakistani reporters for Turkey’s state-run English language channel TRT World for some 10 hours during a visit by the Turkish foreign minister, before releasing them, reports said Saturday.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu late Friday held talks with Saudi King Salman in Mecca aimed at easing the crisis over the diplomatic and economic isolation of Ankara’s ally Qatar.

Correspondent Hasan Abdullah and cameraman Nihat Yayman, who were covering the talks, were detained by Saudi authorities at their hotel but then released after Cavusoglu personally intervened with the Saudi king, the Hurriyet daily said.

Abdullah said in a statement the pair “were detained from our hotel by Saudi police in Mecca after a live analysis” on the crisis with Qatar.

“The ordeal lasted nearly 10 hours during which we faced multiple interrogations and lock-up,” he said, expressing gratitude to the Turkish authorities for solving the issue.

There was no immediate indication over why they had been detained or if it directly concerned their reporting from the kingdom.

Hurriyet said they were freed on the instructions of the Saudi king after Cavusoglu brought up the issue. The pair are now heading back to Turkey.

Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain broke off relations with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”.

The crisis has put Turkey in a delicate position as Ankara regards Qatar as its chief ally in the Gulf but is also keen to maintain its improving relations with the key regional power Saudi Arabia.

While strongly backing its ally Qatar, Turkey has stopped short of directly criticising Saudi Arabia’s actions and called on Riyadh to take a lead role in solving the crisis.

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Trump Organization dissolved subsidiaries created to pursue business opportunities in Qatar six days after Donald Trump was inaugurated

June 17, 2017

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The Trump Organization dissolved subsidiaries created to pursue business opportunities in Qatar six days after Donald Trump was inaugurated as America’s 45th president, according to a new financial disclosure form filed on his behalf.

Trump had turned managerial control over to his two adult sons before entering the White House, vowing his eponymous enterprise would not pursue more deals abroad as he served as president.

In recent days, Trump repeatedly has accused Qatar of funding extremists amid an effort by several Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia to isolate the peninsular nation.

Alan Garten, an executive vice president and chief legal officer at the Trump Organization, told The Associated Press on Saturday that dissolving the subsidiaries was “consistent with our no new foreign deals pledge.”

“We no longer have any use for these entities,” he said.

Along the motorcade route for President Trump, on the way to the airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he recently attended a summit meeting. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Trump as a businessman long sought to enter Qatar, a tiny gas-rich nation that will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup and is home to some 10,000 American soldiers at a major U.S. military base. He traveled to the Qatari capital, Doha, in April 2008 to see developments there.

He tweeted in March 2015 that the Trump Organization planned a hotel in Doha, alongside ones in Saudi Arabia, well as in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Trump also praised Qatar during his presidential campaign, in which he lauded Doha’s new international airport.

“You land at LaGuardia, you land at Kennedy, you land at LAX, you land at Newark, and you come in from Dubai and Qatar and you see these incredible” airports, Trump said at his first debate with Hillary Clinton. “You see these incredible airports, and … we’ve become a third-world country.”

But deals in Qatar eluded Trump. In Dubai, however, Trump’s sons opened a Trump-branded golf club in February and local developer DAMAC Properties plans another despite concerns in the U.S. over the Trump Organization’s international work . Trump previously told journalists that DAMAC had offered the Trump Organization $2 billion in deals after his election , something DAMAC also confirmed.

In his financial disclosure filed Friday with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, Trump lists four separate Qatar-related entities that were dissolved on Jan. 26. Trump’s inauguration was Jan. 20. The four subsidiaries are DT Marks Qatar LLC, DT Marks Qatar Member Corp., THC Qatar Hotel Manager LLC and THC Qatar Hotel Manager Member Corp.

In the weeks since Trump’s May visit to Saudi Arabia, his first foreign trip as president, Sunni Arab Gulf nations have seen increasing turmoil.

The upheaval has been capped by the Saudi-led effort to isolate Qatar after it and other Arab nations cut diplomatic ties to Doha over its alleged support of Islamists and extremists, as well as its close ties to Iran. Qatar long has denied funding extremists, though Western diplomats allege lax oversight allows such funding to continue. Qatar also shares a massive offshore natural gas field with Iran, requiring them to stay in communication.

While Trump’s administration has called for Gulf unity and noted Qatar’s support through hosting American soldiers, Trump himself has accused Doha of funding terrorism “at a very high level.”

For his Dubai earnings, Trump listed just receiving “management fees” of $12,984 from the golf course. That’s down from the between $1 million to $5 million for the projects he declared on a U.S. Federal Election Committee report submitted in May 2016. However, the report Friday notes Trump’s licensing fees and earnings often vary during projects and include upfront payments.

The Qatar entities are among over 540 different subsidiaries listed on the form. It notes several associated with hoped-for projects with Saudi Arabia that had been dissolved in November as previously reported by the AP .

Also dissolved on Jan. 26 was TC Marks Buenos Aires LLC. The Trump Organization had wanted to build a Trump Tower in the Argentine capital, but said in January that it wouldn’t continue “exploratory” talks over projects there and in Pune, India.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jongambrellAP . His work can be found at http://apne.ws/2galNpz .

Iraq VP Accuses Qatar of Having Tried to Split His Country

June 17, 2017

CAIRO — Qatar promoted a plan to split Iraq along sectarian lines, Iraqi Vice President Iyad Allawi said on Saturday, voicing support for the isolation of Doha by some Arab states.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have broken off ties and imposed sanctions on Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and courting regional rival Iran – allegations Doha denies.

Allawi is a secular Shi’ite politician who has some support within Iraq’s Sunni community. His position as vice president is largely ceremonial and his views do not reflect those of the government in Baghdad, headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Abadi has refused to take sides officially in the Gulf Arab rift but criticized the sanctions imposed on Qatar, saying they hurt the population, not the Qatari government.

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Saudi-Qatar crisis puts Syria rebels in tricky position

June 17, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Sammy Ketz | Smoke rises from buildings following a reported air strike on a rebel-held area in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, on June 14, 2017

BEIRUT (AFP) – A diplomatic crisis pitting Saudi Arabia against Qatar has put Syrian rebels in a difficult position, analysts say, after rivalries between Gulf backers had already weakened the opposition.

Both Sunni-ruled monarchies sided with the protesters in March 2011, when the war started with the brutal repression of anti-government demonstrations.

They continued supporting the mostly Sunni rebels when unrest spiralled into conflict between the armed opposition and troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, who hails from the country’s Alawite Shiite minority and is backed by Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran.

But six years later, the rebellion has been plagued by rivalries between Riyadh and Doha, as well as weakened by Russia’s military intervention in support of Assad’s forces.

Moscow’s support for regime forces led to a series of setbacks for the rebels, including their landmark loss in December of second city Aleppo.

Last week, Saudi Arabia and allies, including the United Arab Emirates, severed or reduced diplomatic ties with Qatar over accusations the emirate supports extremism, claims Doha has denied.

“The current rupture puts the Syrian opposition in a very awkward position politically, as nobody wants to have to take sides publicly nor can afford to alienate either side,” said Yezid Sayigh, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Centre.

A rebel official in the opposition stronghold of Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus said he hoped the crisis between Doha and Riyadh was just “a temporary storm”.

– ‘Sensitive’ issue –

“Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have supported the revolution of the Syrian people and shown solidarity throughout years of tragedy,” the rebel official said.

In a sign of the embarrassment the crisis is causing, several rebel groups approached by AFP refused to comment, saying it was a “sensitive” issue.

But Sayigh said the latest flare-up in relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia will have a limited impact on the Syrian conflict.

“It probably won’t have a major financial impact, nor a military one since the US and Turkey have stepped up their support for factions that previously were close to Qatar or to Saudi Arabia,” Sayigh said.

Riyadh “reduced its funding sharply starting” from the summer of 2015 “after it launched its intervention in Yemen” earlier in the year, he said.

Six years into the war, Syria’s fractured rebellion controls just around 10 percent of the war-torn country, with backing from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan and the United States.

Pro-Doha rebels including the powerful Ahrar al-Sham group are present in the north of the country.

In Eastern Ghouta, pro-Doha opposition groups exist alongside the pro-Riyadh Jaish al-Islam rebel alliance.

Rebels in the south, meanwhile, are trained by Amman and Washington.

Another influential player is Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, which now leads the Tahrir al-Sham group and which some analysts and Syrian factions say has links with Qatar, although Doha has denied this.

– Tensions in Eastern Ghouta? –

Qatar led most mediation efforts to obtain the release of hostages held by the group formerly known as Al-Nusra Front.

In Eastern Ghouta, even before the Gulf crisis, factions supported by Qatar on one side and Saudi Arabia on the other had already clashed, killing hundreds of fighters.

Raphael Lefevre, a researcher at the University of Oxford, said the latest Saudi-Qatari crisis could well spark further tensions between rival groups in the rebel enclave.

In 2013 and 2014, “Qatar and Saudi Arabia competed for influence within exiled opposition bodies, each by supporting different factions and leaders, something which largely contributed to paralysing and fragmenting the Syrian opposition,” he said.

But the consequences of the latest spat “could be much bloodier, especially as the two countries support rival rebel factions in areas already marked by a great degree of opposition infighting and regime violence such as the Eastern Ghouta”, Lefevre said.

Syria expert Thomas Pierret however said “local dynamics rather than external patrons determine alliances” in Eastern Ghouta.

He said Ahrar al-Sham risked “suffering financially from a reorientation of Qatari politics”, even if it continues to enjoy support from Turkey, which has intervened as a mediator in the Gulf dispute.

Syria’s exiled political opposition is also fractured. The High Negotiations Committee is based in Riyadh, while the National Coalition work out of Istanbul.

by Sammy Ketz
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