Posts Tagged ‘Bahrain’

Arab Federation for Human Rights Calls For Removal of 2022 World Cup from Qatar — Supporting and financing terrorism

September 21, 2017

Stop supporting and financing terrorism, federations tells Qatar

Image Credit: Agency
Federation called on Qatar to meet the 13 demands from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt, the four Arab nations that cut ties with the country.
Published: 07:39 September 21, 2017Gulf News


GENEVA: The Arab Federation for Human Rights has called for the withdrawal of the 2022 World Cup from Qatar because of its record in the field of human rights, especially violations of workers’ rights, and the financing of terrorism.

In a press conference held at the Swiss Press Club in Geneva, the federation called on Qatar to stop supporting and financing terrorism and activities that undermine the stability of the region, to end its policy of providing safe havens for terrorists, and stop providing a platform that helps promote radical ideologies.

Everything you need to know about Qatar Crisis

In its report, the Federation pointed to international and regional treaties signed by Qatar, including those related to anti-terrorism, corruption and human rights and labour agreements.

The report included 26 recommendations, most notably the need for the state of Qatar to stop its support and financing of terrorism and extremism that undermine the stability of the region, stop the policy of the harbouring of terrorists, not provide them with a platform to promote their extremist ideologies.

It also called on Qatar to meet the 13 demands from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt, the four Arab nations that cut ties with the country.


Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim takes Gulf crisis to global audience

September 20, 2017

Qatar’s emir appeals to world leaders before meeting US President Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on September 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

United Nations, New York City – Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani used the pulpit of the UN General Assembly to attack the four neighbours that have imposed a blockade against it, accusing them of “terrorism”-like behaviour.

Sheikh Tamim also met privately US President Donald Trump at the annual diplomatic session in New York on Tuesday as Qatar sought to win international support in its 106-day-old spat with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt.

The emir blasted the “unjust blockade” as a “betrayal” from his neighbours that had ultimately failed to bring “Qatar to its knees and to capitulate to a total tutelage to be imposed on it”.

The blockade aimed to pressure Qataris via “foodstuffs, medicine and ripping off consanguineous relations to force them change their political affiliation to destabilise a sovereign country,” he said in a 22-minute address from the UN’s iconic marble rostrum.

“Isn’t this one of the definitions of terrorism?” Sheikh Tamim asked.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke in the same UN session after Sheikh Tamim and showed support for Qatar in a wide-ranging speech.

Erdogan called for the lifting of “sanctions negatively affecting the living conditions of the Qatari people” and urged the region’s “elder brother” Saudi Arabia to “show sincere will for the resolution of the issue”.

Sheikh Tamim-Trump meeting

Trump initially sided with the Saudis and called Qatar a “funder of terrorism” but has since worked to broker a way out of the crisis and in his meeting with Sheikh Tamim on the sidelines of the General Assembly on Tuesday renewed his vow to help solve the crisis in the Gulf.

“We are right now in a situation where we’re trying to solve a problem in the Middle East and I think we’ll get it solved,” Trump told reporters before the meeting, adding that he has a “strong feeling it will be solved pretty quickly”.

Sheikh Tamim reiterated Doha’s call for dialogue and thanked the US president, noting that Washington’s “interference will help a lot”.

Sheikh Tamim was flanked by Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and other Qatari officials; the US delegation included Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor HR McMaster, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and others.

Trump told Sheikh Tamim that he believes the crisis in the Gulf will be ‘solved pretty quickly’ [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, cut ties with Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, on June 5, accusing it of supporting “terrorism” and cosying up to regional rival, Iran. Doha has denied the allegations as “baseless”.

On June 22, the group issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of Al Jazeera, limiting ties with Iran, and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country as a prerequisite to lifting the blockade.

Doha rejected all the demands, denouncing them as an attempt to infringe on Qatar’s sovereignty, while US-backed Kuwaiti mediation has failed to end the dispute.

For Sigurd Neubauer, a Middle East analyst, the Trump-Tamim meeting was a win for Qatar because it signalled that Doha has friends at the highest level in Washington despite being ostracised by its four US-aligned Arab neighbours.

“Qatar wants to show that its bonds with the US are unbreakable. Washington wants to show that it doesn’t value its relationship with one Gulf country over another. It won’t point fingers at who started this crisis, it just wants it resolved,” Neubauer told Al Jazeera ahead of the meeting.

“From Washington’s view, there’s a Kurdish referendum coming, Palestinian reconciliation, defeating ISIL, the Astana talks on Syria’s war and North Korea’s nukes. Whether Qatar has a wise foreign policy or not? That’s a different matter.”

READ MORE: Qatar-Gulf crisis – All the latest updates

Imad Harb, a research director at Arab Center Washington, DC think tank, agreed, but questioned whether the diplomatic flurry in New York “takes us anywhere” towards ending the crisis as “conditions are not right for reconciliation”.

The meeting will show Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and others that Trump has “changed his mind since the beginning of this crisis” and is no longer playing favourites among the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), of which Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE are members, Harb told Al Jazeera.

But that is not necessarily a game-changer for Saudi, the UAE and others, he said.

“From the beginning, they intended for regime changes and though it didn’t work, they haven’t disabused themselves of that idea.”

Follow James Reinl on Twitter: @jamesreinl

Source: Al Jazeera News

UN GCC Qatar Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani Donald Trump

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See also:
Qatari emir slams ‘unjust’ Saudi-led siege in UN speech

Qatar’s Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim urges response to call to end crisis — “Hopes the ruling family and dignitaries respond to the invitation for a national meeting”.

September 19, 2017

Qatar’s Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim Al-Thani has released a statement saying that he “hopes the ruling family and dignitaries respond to the invitation for a national meeting”.

Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim said in a video message broadcasted on Sky News Arabia to the Qatari people that the Qatari government has “allowed the intruders and the haters to spread their poison in every direction until we reached the brink of catastrophe”.

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“It saddens me to that what is mentioned in this crisis consist of terrorist organizations and Qatar’s embrace of them and the proliferation of terrorist groups among us. It is as if Doha has become an incubator for all the saboteurs and corrupters”.

The Paris-based Qatari sheikh said that he placed his trust in “the wisdom of King Salman and the leaders of countries and their deep love for us by standing with us”.

On Sunday, Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani called on the “wise men” of the ruling family in Qatar and the country’s prominent figures to meet to resolve the Qatari crisis, which amounted to direct incitement to the Arab Gulf.


You all know that the situation today is quite critical. Our brothers in the Gulf and the Arab world have ostracized us because of fatal errors that were committed against them alongside ugly practices done against their existence; these actions were committed in our name, from our land and with our tools.

These people are in fact our enemies. Because of the government’s policy which allowed hateful bitter people to deepen its roots in Qatar and spread their poison everywhere, we have bitterly reached the abyss. Our goal today is to stand together to purge our land from these outsiders and to continue our development efforts to bring pride to our country Qatar in an effort to gain a more civic and humanitarian role and aspect. We need to stand together to protect Qatar from terrorist organizations.

My worst fear is that one day the Qatari citizen will become associated with terrorism. I am most fearful that we would be rejected from everyone worldwide, along with the rupture with our neighboring countries.

Today, I live in Paris. Ever since the crisis broke, I couldn’t handle becoming a stranger in my own country. Strangers came flooding like the colonizers, intervening in our internal affairs under the pretext of protecting us from our people in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf whom we consider as our ancestors and family. We are the grandchildren of Sheikh Jassim and many other great men who have built this great country.

I am saddened that this crisis brought to light all of these terrorist organizations and these violent groups along with an interference with the affairs of other countries and a sabotage of their security and wellbeing. As if Doha has become an incubator to all the corrupts and the wicked and a platform to serve their agendas.

While in reality, if Qatar would be faced with hardships, they would be the first to leave the ship. They only care about exploiting our country and using our resources, they wouldn’t care about us at all because they are not connected to us, and they have no families nor loved ones. They are full of bitterness and hatred against the Gulf people and Qatar is no exception. It’s a shame that Qatar is used as a façade and a weapon to destroy its people, its dignity, its history and its entire entity only to become a victim of their practices later on.

In this context, I endorse all calls for a meeting hoping that all the members of the ruling family, distinguished members and thinkers to engage in this meeting so they can become one hand to protect Qatar from enemies and deserters.

I am full of confidence of King Salman and the leaders of the Arab countries of their stand with Qatar, may god always bestow peaceful relations between us and may all mistakes be corrected to end these nightmares that have plagued us.

Sultan Bin Suhaim Bin Hamad Al Thani.

Last Update: Tuesday, 19 September 2017 KSA 23:27 – GMT 20:27

Sheikh Tamim: Qatar ready to talk to end Gulf crisis

September 17, 2017

Al Jazeera

Qatari emir restates readiness to sit at the negotiating table during meeting with German Chancellor Merkel in Berlin.

Merkel says she is concerned there is still no solution to the crisis [Michael Sohn/AP]

The Qatari emir says he is ready to sit at a negotiating table to solve the three-month-long regional crisis.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is on his first foreign trip since Qatar’s diplomatic rift with its Arab neighbours.

“As you know we have had a siege of more than 100 days against Qatar,” Sheikh Tamim said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday.

“We spoke about Qatar’s readiness to sit at the table to solve this issue.”

Merkel’s government has announced efforts to mediate in the crisis, which saw Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severing diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar in June.

READ MORE: Qatar presses UN to take action against blockade

The Arab states accuse Qatar of backing “terrorism”, an allegation Qatar denies.

Germany has been supporting diplomatic efforts to try and defuse the crisis, with Merkel inviting all sides to sit at the table.

She said she was concerned that there was still no solution to the crisis, adding she supported efforts by Kuwait and the US to mediate an end to the dispute.

“Germany is not a part of this conflict, but would like, in line with its values, to help get this conflict resolved in such a way that all can keep their face,” Merkel said.

“We view with concern the fact that 100 days since the start of the conflict no solutions can yet be seen,” Merkel told the joint press conference.

“And we spoke about the need for all the parties to sit at one table again as soon as possible.”

READ MORE: All the latest updates of the Qatar-Gulf crisis

Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s foreign minister, has said the country’s intelligence service would play a role in clearing up accusations that Qatar supports “terrorist” groups.

Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane, reporting from Berlin, said Germany is attempting to ratchet up diplomatic pressure to get the feuding nations on the same table.

“The German desire here is to play a more broad role, diplomatically speaking, in the Gulf area and it clearly wants this issue to be dealt with as speedily and peacefully as possible,” he said.

Sheikh Tamim was expected to fly out to Paris for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron later on Friday.

Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst Marwan Bishara said that momentum seems to be building towards a diplomatic resolution.

“There is certainly a need to go beyond the last 100 days, now that there is an understanding by every leader around the world that the dispute must be resolved diplomatically, sooner rather than later,” he said from London.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

Emails Indicated Saudi Plan To Attack Qatar — To “solve everyone’s problems”

September 17, 2017
Image of the UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al-Otaiba [File photo]

Image of the UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al-Otaiba [File photo]

Saudi Arabia was preparing for a military attack on its neighbour Qatar, leaked emails dated May 2017 appear to show.

The emails between UAE Ambassador in Washington, Yousef Al-Otaiba, and US diplomat Elliott Abrams in May 2017 claim that Saudi came close to “conquering” Qatar and this would “solve everyone’s problems”, according to the Emirati official.

Al-Otaiba added that deceased Saudi monarch King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz “came pretty close to doing something in Qatar” a few months before his death in January 2015.

Abrams was surprised by the revelation, the emails show, declaring: “I did not know that. It is dramatic.”

“How hard could it be?” he asked, adding:

Foreigners won’t interfere … Promise the Indians a raise, promise the police a raise and who is going to fight to the death?

Al-Otaiba replied: “That was the conclusion. It would be an easy lift.”

Khalil Al-Anani: The shifts in the Gulf crisis

Alleged leaked emails between UAE Ambassador in Washington, Yousef Al-Otaiba, and US diplomat Elliott Abrams from May 2017, suggesting Saudi Arabia was preparing for a military attack on its neighbour Qatar.

Abrams went on to say that former US President Barack Obama would not have supported an attack on Qatar “but the new guy…” in reference to current American Presisdent Donald Trump.

In the emails, Abrams suggested Jordan control Qatar. “The Hashemites need to control Qatar … that would solve their financial problems and Qatar’s support of extremism.” as he put it.

It is noteworthy that Abrams served as deputy assistant to US President George W. Bush and as his deputy national security adviser.

On 5 June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups in the region.

The four countries also imposed an embargo on Qatar and issued a long list of demands, including the closure of Doha-based news broadcaster Al Jazeera, under the threat of further sanctions.

Qatar has refused to submit, denying charges that it supports terrorism and describing the bloc’s efforts to isolate it as a violation of international law and an infringement of its national sovereignty.

A spokesperson at the UAE embassy in the US told Middle East Eye that she was “not in a position to confirm or deny” the emails were genuine.

Lies, politics and Iran-Qatar axis

September 15, 2017

By Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi

It is hard to understand someone if he doesn’t understand himself. It gets worse when that someone is a government with multiple heads and decision process speaking with many tongues and sending conflicting messages. Worse, their speech has no relations with their actions.

So you may accept what is offered in private conversation, or even public forum, only to find the very same day that those offers are fake. Promises are made to be broken, agreements are signed to be violated, and commitment, no matter how many guarantors and witnesses, cannot be trusted for even 24 hours.

Iran, Russia, and all those in between, are famous for such tactics. Al-Houthi in Yemen, for example, signed many agreements with the Yemeni government in two decades, but broke them all. They agree with you in a night negotiation session, but the next morning they will have the opposite stand. You would be excused to think they have a collective amnesia, but it is more of a culture.

I believe Qatar has a big problem — not knowing what they want. Unless they make up their mind, they won’t stop playing games and changing their stand so frequently

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi

Guns for hire

They used to be guns for hire, with zero principles or conscious — there is no honor among thieves. So, with no regret or need for explanation they turned against their ally, ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who gave them the keys to all of Yemen, and put his loyalists in the army and tribes at their service

Iran, the mothership of this culture, is infamous for its contradictory statements, and unreliable commitments. Recently we heard different stands toward Saudi Arabia from different people. There are those who thank Saudi Arabia for a successful and safe Haj, for instance, and those who complain that we didn’t allow them political demonstration. Some threaten us with ballistic missiles that would burn all our oil fields and cities (except Makkah and Madinah!) and others wonder why would we doubt their peaceful intentions!

Also read: Qatar’s characteristic obstinacy and Iran’s ‘honor’

Not just different officials say different things, sometimes the same person would send contradictory messages. Take President Rouhani and his team for example. During the last couple of weeks, we dealt with accusations that Saudi Arabia is sponsoring all its own enemies! — Daesh (the so-called Islamic State), Al-Qaeda, etc. Days later, they extended their hands of brotherhood and friendship, calling for cooperation and good relations.

In the meanwhile, their terrorist and espionage cells are found in Saudi Arabia and the Iranian-made scuds are fired from Yemen toward our cities and towns, including Makkah. No wonder why it is so hard to understand their real positions and intentions—unless one reads their constitution, ideology and culture.

Qatar is another example of double-talk and multiple positions. During private conversations and indoor meetings, they present a totally different position than in public. They managed to draw a picture for themselves in the public mind, and hate to change it.

Reflecting reality

The problem is, the picture doesn’t reflect reality. While their public image is of a small country, but with strong, principled government, the truth is far from that beauty. It is more of scheming politicians that would cross any principle, heavenly or earthly, to realize their self interests. It doesn’t matter how many die, and how much destruction their neighbors and world would suffer, as long as they get their share of fame and influence. Lies become a way of life; and cheating rules the game.

In their latest episode, Emir Tamim called Prince Muhammad Bin Salman to express his desire to solve the crisis once and for all. He showed his willingness to meet with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, to discuss the details of the 13 demands. Prince Muhammad welcomed the gesture and promised to discuss it with the other three partners.

Also read: Iran Revolutionary Guards’ commanders to support militias in the region

Few minutes later, the Qatari News Agency and Al Jazeera news channel reported a different story. According to their version, it was a call requested by President Trump to discuss ways to unite our GCC front, during which the Emir agreed to a meeting of envoys to discuss ways to restart dialogue. So we are back to square one. No agreement. No acceptance of the conditions. And no summit. Just low-level discussion of how to talk!

I believe Qatar has a big problem — not knowing what they want. Unless they make up their mind, they won’t stop playing games and changing their stand so frequently. Saudi Arabia is right to demand a clear and stated position before we go forward! With Iran and company, any less is pointless!

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on September 15, 2017.
Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi journalist and writer based in Jeddah. He can be reached at Follow him at Twitter: @kbatarfi.

Last Update: Friday, 15 September 2017 KSA 12:46 – GMT 09:46


Qatar ‘uses $38bn — equivalent to 23% of GDP — to support economy’ during Gulf crisis — American military bases amid the disagreement

September 14, 2017

BBC News

File photo showing a Qatari trader following the stock market at the Qatari stock exchange in Doha (31 July 2017)
Qatar’s stock market has lost 15% of its market value in 100 days. AFP  Photo

Qatar has used $38bn (£29bn) to support its economy during a dispute with other Arab states, a rating agency says.

The trade, tourism and banking sectors have been worst hit by the restrictions put in place since June by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, according to Moody’s.

It estimates that about $30bn has flowed out of Qatar’s banking system and expects further withdrawals.

Qatar’s neighbours say they cut it off over its alleged support for terrorism.

It denies supporting extremist groups and says the crisis is politically motivated.

The Saudi-led bloc announced on 5 June that they had severed all links with Qatar.

Qatar’s only land border was closed; ships flying the Qatari flag or those serving Qatar were banned from docking at many ports; and much of the region’s airspace was closed to both Qatari aircraft and foreign airlines flying to and from Doha.

The Qatari government stressed that it had sufficient resources to defend its economy during the crisis, but foreign investors took flight with no progress being made towards a resolution.

A map showing the location of Qatar and the countries blockading it

Qatar’s stock market has lost 15% of its market value in 100 days, hitting a 52-month low this week.

The emirate’s banks have also faced higher funding costs, as some Gulf lenders opted not to roll over their deposits.

Moody’s estimated that Qatar had used $38.5bn – equivalent to 23% of GDP – to support the economy in the two first months of the crisis.

It also warned that the diplomatic dispute had created uncertainty across the Gulf and could negatively affect the credit outlook of all the countries involved.

“The severity of the diplomatic dispute between Gulf countries is unprecedented, which magnifies the uncertainty over the ultimate economic, fiscal and social impact on the GCC [Gulf Co-operation Council] as a whole,” said Moody’s Vice-President Steffen Dyck.

“While we expect the GCC to overcome its divisions, tensions persisting – or even escalating – would be the most credit negative for Qatar and Bahrain.”

Rising debt, increased debt issuance from other GCC states, and rising US interest rates had put pressure on Bahrain’s financing costs since 2014, Moody’s said.


Qatar diplomatic crisis engulfs a major US military base

Qatar’s emir is persona non grata to four U.S.-allied Arab states that accuse his wealthy Gulf nation of sponsoring extremists, but he recently received a warm welcome at the sprawling military base his troops share with thousands of American soldiers.

Qatar’s al-Udeid Air Base, a crucial staging ground for U.S. operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, is one of several American military outposts across the Gulf that are intended to serve as a bulwark against Iran, but now put Washington in a delicate balancing act.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates cut all ties to Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting extremism and being soft on Iran. Some U.S. officials have defended Qatar, but are making little headway in mediating the crisis. With its hosts at each other’s throats, the Pentagon has been placed in an awkward position.

“We’re tracking all the Gulf nations’ disputes right now,” said U.S. Air Force Col. John Thomas, a spokesman for the American military’s Central Command. “That doesn’t lessen that they are good hosts.”

The U.S. has deepened its military relationships across the region in the nearly two decades since it helped expel Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait.

The island nation of Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Kuwait, which has also sought to mediate the Qatar dispute, is home to 13,500 American troops and the forward command of U.S. Army Central. The UAE’s massive Jebel Ali port in Dubai is the Navy’s biggest port of call outside of the U.S., while American forces also fly out of al-Dhafra Air Base near Abu Dhabi.

Some 10,000 American troops are stationed in Qatar, a small, energy-rich peninsular nation that sticks out like a thumb into the Persian Gulf. Most work out of the vast al-Udeid Air Base just south of the capital, Doha, which hosts the forward operating base of the U.S. military’s Central Command. By comparison, experts estimate Qatar’s own military strength at some 11,800 troops, one of the region’s smallest forces.

For years, the U.S. military wouldn’t even acknowledge the base’s location out of security concerns, at most simply describing it as being in Asia. It houses the Combined Air Operations Center, which oversees the U.S.-led coalition’s bombing campaign of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and manages a direct line to Russia to manage Syria’s crowded skies.

Yet even before the Qatar crisis began on June 5, some in Washington questioned the U.S. military’s reliance on a base in a country whose leadership has supported Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. The UAE and Saudi Arabia view the Brotherhood as a threat to their nations’ hereditary rulers. Egypt considers the group a terrorist organization.

The diplomatic dispute began in part over that Islamist support, as well as Qatar’s diplomatic relations with Iran and allegations it funds extremists. Qatar long has denied funding extremists, and its warm relations with Iran are nothing new — the two countries share a massive offshore natural gas field.

While U.S. President Donald Trump has tweeted and made comments that can be seen as siding against Qatar, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has traveled to Doha to offer his support. The Trump administration also agreed to an in-the-works sale of F-15 fighter jets to Qatar for $12 billion.

However, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s visit to the base on Sept. 11 added new tension. He posed with troops in front of warplanes, some American-made, and met with senior U.S. officials. One photograph at the base released by state media showed a stenciled poster of Sheikh Tamim, an image now seen across Doha as a sign of support for the ruler amid the boycott.

Sheikh Tamim and the Americans “reviewed the joint Qatari-U.S. military defense cooperation, and the mutual cooperation between the two countries in combating terrorism,” a statement about the visit on the state-run Qatar News Agency said.

“It was a visit. They talked about how things were going and there were some photo opportunities and they left,” Thomas said. “It was not particularly substantive.”

U.S. bases routinely welcome leaders of their host countries, Thomas said. Asked about the Sheikh Tamim poster, he said it is normal for host nations to put up their own nationalistic banners on their side of bases.

The al-Udeid visit came just ahead of Sheikh Tamim’s first trip abroad since the crisis began. The trip to Turkey and Germany provides a way for him to show his rule is secure. Sheikh Tamim’s father, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, launched a palace coup in 1995 while his own father was abroad.

The Pentagon has developed contingency plans for al-Udeid operations, but that’s a normal part of war planning, Thomas said. He said the U.S. military regularly maintained relationships with host nations amid turbulent times, referencing tensions with Egypt in the years since its 2011 Arab Spring uprising.

“We’ve got plans for everything. … We’ll do what we need to do to continue the fight,” the colonel said. “But right now, it’s not in the realm of significant possibilities that we’ll have to close or curtail anything.”


Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at His work can be found at

Qatar Emir Due in Turkey for First Trip Since Gulf Crisis — Signifies “New World Order”

September 14, 2017

ANKARA, Turkey — Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is due in Turkey on his first foreign trip since a diplomatic crisis erupted between his small energy-rich nation and other Arab states.

Image may contain: 2 people

Qatari Emir Sheikh TamimbinHamad Al Thani

Al Thani is scheduled to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday to discuss the three-month-old diplomatic rift.

Turkey has been trying to mediate between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors but has also shown solidarity with Doha in the crisis by delivering food and other supplies and boosting military ties, including sending troops to a Turkish base there.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates cut ties with Qatar in June over its close ties to Iran and its alleged support for extremists.

Qatar has denied supporting extremism, saying the crisis is politically motivated.


Our Own Peace and Freedom View: A new world order has emerged that includes China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Qatar, Turkey, Syria and others.



Saudi calls for people to report subversive comments on social media — Human rights watchdog calls this “Orwellian”

September 13, 2017

Image may contain: screen and laptop

A Saudi man explores a website on his laptop in Riyadh February 11, 2014. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has urged its people to report subversive comments spotted on social media via a phone app, a move denounced by a human rights watchdog as “Orwellian”.

The appeal, announced on a Twitter account run by the interior ministry late on Tuesday, coincides with an apparent crackdown on potential government critics and a call by exiled opposition figures for demonstrations.

“When you notice any account on social networks publishing terrorist or extremist ideas, please report it immediately via the application #We‘re_all_security”, it said, referring to a mobile phone app launched last year to enable civilians to report traffic violations and burglaries.

Hours later, the public prosecutor tweeted a section of the kingdom’s terrorism law which states: “Endangering national unity, obstructing the Basic Law of governance or some of its articles, and harming the state’s reputation or status are terrorist crimes.”

Exiled Saudi critics have called for demonstrations on Friday to galvanize opposition to the royal family and prominent clerics, intellectuals and activists, including prominent Islamist cleric Sheikh Salman al-Awdah, have been detained this week, activists say.

Image result for Sheikh Salman al-Awdah, photos

Islamist cleric Sheikh Salman al-Awdah

Activists circulated lists of people detained on social media showing the number had risen to around 30 on Wednesday, including some with no clear links to Islamist activity or obvious history of opposition.

Protests are banned in Saudi Arabia, as are political parties. Unions are illegal, the press is controlled and criticism of the royal family can lead to prison.

Riyadh says it does not have political prisoners, but senior officials have said monitoring activists is needed to maintain social stability.

The detentions reported by activists follow widespread speculation, denied by officials, that King Salman intends to abdicate to his son, Crown Prince Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who dominates economic, diplomatic and domestic policy.

There are also growing tensions with Qatar over its alleged support of Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood which is listed by Riyadh as a terrorist organization.

Some Twitter users expressed support for the government’s approach, using the “We’re all Security” hashtag.

“No flattery, no silence whether for a relative or friend in securing the homeland,” said one. “Defend your security. Chaos starts with slogans of freedom and reform. Do not believe them.”

Another user called on people to photograph any “low-lifes” protesting on Friday and upload them to the app.


Human Rights Watch, a New York-based watchdog, condemned the government dragnet, saying it called into question the authorities’ commitment to free speech and the rule of law.

“Saudi Arabia is reaching a new level of Orwellian reality when it goes beyond security services’ repression and outsources monitoring of citizens’ online comments to other citizens,” said Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson, referring to English writer George Orwell’s dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four”.

“Saudi Arabia’s new leadership is quickly showing it has no tolerance for critical thought or speech and is marshalling Saudi society to enforce red lines by spying on itself.”

The government has not clearly acknowledged this week’s detentions or responded to requests for comment.

But state news agency SPA said on Tuesday authorities had uncovered “intelligence activities for the benefit of foreign parties” by a group of people it did not identify.

A Saudi security source told Reuters the suspects were accused of “espionage activities and having contacts with external entities including the Muslim Brotherhood”, which Riyadh has classified as a terrorist organization.

The government toughened its stance on dissent following the Arab Spring in 2011 after it averted unrest by offering billions of dollars in handouts and state spending.

But the Brotherhood, which represents an ideological threat to Riyadh’s dynastic system of rule, has gained power elsewhere in the region.

Since the kingdom’s founding, the ruling Al Saud family has enjoyed a close alliance with clerics of the ultra-conservative Wahhabi school of Islam. In return, the clerics have espoused a political philosophy that demands obedience to the ruler.

By contrast the Muslim Brotherhood advances an active political doctrine urging revolutionary action, which flies in the face of Wahhabi teaching.

The Brotherhood-inspired Sahwa movement in the 1990s agitated to bring democracy to Saudi Arabia and criticized the ruling family for corruption, social liberalization and working with the West, including allowing U.S. troops into the kingdom during the 1991 Iraq war.

The Sahwa were largely undermined by a mixture of repression and co-optation but remain active.

The al-Saud family has always regarded Islamist groups as the biggest internal threat to its rule over a country in which appeals to religious sentiment cannot be lightly dismissed and an al Qaeda campaign a decade ago killed hundreds.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport links with Qatar in June over its alleged support for Islamist militants, a charge that Doha denies.

Editing by Timothy Heritage

Regional dispute over Qatar hurting all: Moody’s

September 13, 2017


© AFP/File | A boycott of Qatar by a Saudi-led bloc of Arab states is hurting the economies of all the countries involved, with Bahrain and Qatar the most affected, Moody’s Investor Service said

DUBAI (AFP) – A boycott of Qatar by a Saudi-led bloc of Arab states is hurting the economies of all the countries involved, with Bahrain and Qatar the most affected, Moody’s Investor Service said Wednesday.

The row has translated into a credit negative for the entire six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, Moody’s said in a report.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt on June 5 severed diplomatic ties and imposed economic sanctions on Qatar, accusing it of backing radical Islamist groups.

Doha has denied the charges.

“The severity of the diplomatic dispute between Gulf countries is unprecedented, which magnifies the uncertainty over the ultimate economic, fiscal and social impact on the GCC as a whole,” said Steffen Dyck, Moody’s vice president.

Qatar faces large economic, financial and social costs stemming from related travel and trade restrictions, it said.

The impact on Qatar so far has been most acute for trade, tourism and the banking sector.

Sizeable capital outflows in the vicinity of $30 billion flowed out of Qatar’s banking system in June and July, with further declines expected as GCC banks opt not to roll over their deposits, Moody’s said.

It estimates that Qatar used $38.5 billion — equivalent to 23 percent of its GDP — to support the economy in the first two months of sanctions.

Moody’s said it does not expect that Qatar will have to borrow from the international capital market this year, but its financing costs will increase.

The standoff could also impair the sustainability of Bahrain’s currency peg to the US dollar and will also increase the cost of borrowing for the kingdom, the poorest of the six oil-rich GCC nations.

The diplomatic rift will inevitably impair the functioning of the GCC more severely as the row prolongs.