Posts Tagged ‘blockade’

Qatar Will Not Be Intimidated

August 14, 2017

It’s time to resolve the dispute, which is driven by Saudi and Emirati hypocrisy.


Aug. 13, 2017 5:48 p.m. ET

As the Gulf crisis enters its third month, it is clear the blockade against Qatar has not succeeded.

If Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—the countries driving the confrontation, despite the appearance of a unified bloc—hoped to bring Qatar to its knees, they have failed. If they hoped to damage Qatar’s reputation and improve their own, they have failed. If they hoped to enhance their relationship with the U.S. at Qatar’s expense, again, they have failed.

Instead, the anti-Qatar smear campaign has put a spotlight on the shameful history and unsavory practices of the Saudis and Emiratis themselves. Saudi Arabia justifies the blockade by alleging that Qatari authorities “support extremists and terrorist organizations.” But the accusation only reminds observers that the Saudis have consistently failed to prevent the radicalization of their citizens.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers in the 9/11 attacks were Saudis. Thousands of Saudi citizens have taken up arms to join Islamic State and other radical groups. Saudi textbooks are used in ISIS schools. Many of the five dozen groups that the U.S. State Department designates as terror organizations are funded by Saudi nationals.

The Emirates have taken a similarly hypocritical stance. While the U.A.E. falsely portrays itself as America’s best ally in the region, its track record is no better than Saudi Arabia’s. Two Emiratis participated in the Sept. 11 hijackings, and the staff report to the 9/11 Commission revealed that much of the funding for the attacks flowed through the U.A.E., which was a world hub for money laundering.

The U.A.E. has fared no better with regard to freedom of speech and press. In 2014 authorities arrested a man for plotting a terrorist attack on a Formula One racetrack in Abu Dhabi. But the Emirates prohibitedinternational media outlets from reporting on the trial. The U.A.E.’s recent clampdown on free speech has been widely condemned, especially after the country’s Justice Ministry said in June that supporting Qatar on social media could be punishable by fines and even prison time.

Meanwhile, leaked emails show that Emirati officials were conspiring with a variety of interest groups and lobbyists on a campaign to slander Qatar long before the blockade was imposed. Now intelligence experts and Qatar’s cybersecurity services have identified the U.A.E. as the perpetrator of the hacking of Qatar News Agency, which set the entire Gulf crisis in motion.

Surely this kind of publicity can’t be what the Saudis and Emiratis hoped for when they instigated this crisis. Yet the longer the blockade goes on, the more damaging information the world will learn about them—and the more difficult it will be to resolve their differences with Qatar.

It’s time to abandon the public-relations campaigns, the blockade, the ultimatums and the pressure tactics and meet at the negotiating table, so we can broker a fair and just resolution to the Gulf crisis.

Mr. Al-Gahtani is special envoy for Qatar’s foreign minister for counterterrorism and mediation of conflict resolution.


Qatar Crisis Redraws Red Lines and Frays Age-Old Gulf Ties

August 12, 2017

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — It’s early morning at a fishing port in Dubai. A group of mostly retired fishermen are playing cards, eating dates and drinking coffee at the port’s majlis, a traditional meeting space.

Here, the Emirati fisherman say they aren’t too worried about the political fallout with Qatar that’s gripped the region since early June, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with the small Gulf state, accusing it of supporting extremists.

“When it comes to politics, it’s not our business,” Thani Obeid said. “If everyone walks around saying their opinion there will be chaos.”

Obeid, 65, and Salem Jomaa, 70, say they have faith in the “wisdom” of the region’s rulers because “we are one family.”

“The Gulf is one home. From Saudi Arabia to Ras al-Khaimah (in the UAE) to Oman. We are all brothers, cousins, friends,” Jomaa said. “We are all Muslims.”

Centuries-old ties that bind families to tribes and tribes to ruling sheikhs underpin the Arabian Peninsula, but that kinship is now under strain.

The crisis has also upended some red lines, making what was once illegal now legal, and vice-versa.

Chief among them was an understanding — enshrined in tradition and government enforced — that criticism of another Gulf country or its esteemed ruler could lead to automatic imprisonment and hefty fines.

After the row erupted June 5, those rules changed. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain warned instead that anyone who sympathizes with Qatar or criticizes the measures taken against it would be imprisoned and fined.

Qatari citizens were also expelled from the three countries after years of visa-free travel throughout the Gulf. Transport links with Qatar were cut and Saudi Arabia sealed shut Qatar’s only land border, impacting food imports.

Saudi and Emirati officials insist the measures are not aimed at Qatari citizens, but at the government. That distinction has meant little to Qataris who say the blockade on their country and the assault on their leadership is like an attack on the whole society.

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Qatari Food companies step in to fill the void

“If they talk about our emir, it’s like they are talking about us. The siege and blockade and making it illegal to sympathize with Qatar, this is against us,” Ahmed al-Khayli, a 36-year-old Qatari said.

Speaking by phone from Qatar, al-Khayli said he believes the relationship between Qataris and others in the Gulf has become “more sensitive.”

Many Qataris — who number around 270,000 citizens — believe their small, energy-rich country is standing up for itself, refusing to surrender its sovereignty. Patriotic fervor has swept through the country. Towering images of its 37-year-old ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, are plastered on cars, billboards and storefronts across the capital.

In Qatar and the UAE, where foreigners far outnumber locals, many talk with sincere admiration for their rulers. It’s a relationship that harkens to a time when tribal elders were responsible for the security of their communities, which relied on pearl diving and fishing for survival. Then, as now, tribes in the Arabian Peninsula intermarried.

The expulsion of Qataris separated mixed-nationality families, parents from their children and husbands from their wives. After public outcry, the three Gulf countries said exceptions would be made for immediate family members, though rights groups say students and families are still being affected.


Hamad al-Kulaib, a 38-year-old Kuwaiti businessman, said the crisis “feels like a battle of the egos” between high-ranking officials. Kuwait, which has remained neutral, is trying to mediate the crisis.

“The tension between Qatar and the Saudi-led bloc is certainly putting all our social relationships in danger,” he said.

Though there have been fallouts in the past between Gulf states, this is the most severe crisis in decades.

Saudi and Emirati media have unleashed a barrage of critical reports about Qatar, accusing it of sedition, lying, sponsoring terrorism and trying to destabilize the region. Qatar’s support of opposition Islamist groups and its ties with Iran has unnerved its neighbors. Qatar says accusations it backs extremist groups are politically motivated and denies it has ever sponsored terrorism.

Meanwhile, Qatari-affiliated press upped their critical coverage of Saudi Arabia since the row erupted. Qatar and the UAE have also traded accusations of hacking.

In the years before the crisis, state-linked news channels and papers did not criticize a fellow Gulf nation’s ruler or policies.

Officially, at least, Qatar has kept a modicum of decorum in place. The emir congratulated the Saudi king and his son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, when he was elevated to crown prince in late June. The emir also sent a cable of condolences to King Salman on the death of his elder brother.

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Those acts sparked a hashtag on Twitter in support of Qatar, and another hashtag said Saudis still welcome ties with Qatari citizens. Twitter is also where people have rallied behind their governments.

Emirati social media star Taim al-Falasi hit back at accusations that citizens in the UAE were being paid to support the moves against Qatar. In a fiercely-worded post, she asked Qataris how they could continue to support their emir after all the allegations made against Qatar.

At the majlis in Dubai’s harbor, the fishermen shake their heads when the mention of Twitter comes up. They disapprove of the fierce words being traded online.

Image result for Dubai's harbor fishermen, photos

“If you add fuel to a fire, the fire will grow,” Obeid said.

In Kuwait, 27-year-old Barrak al-Dakhail says the crisis has polarized opinions there and made relationships among people in the Gulf “awkward.”

“If the situation continues to escalate, it might create a bigger wedge between the people … and that’s certainly something we don’t want,” he said.


Associated Press writer Hussain al-Qatari contributed from Kuwait City.

Qatar tactics seen as failure as crisis enters third month

August 6, 2017

Instead of addressing Quartet concerns, Doha chose instead to protest against the boycott at international organisations

Image Credit: REUTERS
A man walks on the corniche in Doha, Qatar.
Published: 17:23 August 6, 2017Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The Qatari crisis has entered its third month, but the boycott of Doha imposed by the Arab quartet is set to continue because the Qatari regime fails to comply with their 13 demands and broader UN principles to combat terrorism and stop interference in other countries’ affairs, analysts say.

Although they are ready for talks with Doha, the Arab quartet is fully prepared to confront Qatari intrasigience for the long haul. The situation seems to be heading for a protracted crisis.

The four countries have expressed they are ready for dialogue with Qatar if it declares its “sincere willingness” to stop funding terrorism and extremism, halt interference in other countries’ foreign affairs, and respond to the 13 demands.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed their diplomatic relations with Qatar and closed their airspace and ports to Qatar-registered planes and ships over accusations it was supporting terrorist and extremist groups.

Instead of seriously addressing concerns of the Arab quartet and thus returning to the GCC fold, Doha opted to manoeuvre by protesting against the boycott at international organisations.

First by claiming the quartet’s move was a “blockade”. But the Arab quartet refuted Doha’s claims that a “blockade” has been imposed on Qatar by GCC countries, arguing that it was a boycott in keeping with international laws and motivated by the need to protect their national security.

Following the Manama meeting, Shaikh Abdulla Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said all measures taken by four states were within the jurisdiction of international law and “essential to deter the scourge of terrorism which affected stability of other countries.”

Earlier, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said in Washington after a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson there is no blockade of Qatar.

“The ports are open, the airports are open … What we have done is we have denied them use of our airspace, and this is our sovereign right. The limitation on the use of Saudi airspace is only limited to Qatar Airways or Qatari-owned aircraft, not anybody else … Qatar’s seaports were open,” Al Jubeir said.

In another failed attempt to politicise the Haj pilgrimage, Qatar accused Saudi Arabia of stopping its citizens from attending the Haj, a false claim that Riyadh called a “declaration of war”.

Qatar took its complaint to the UN special rapporteur, prompting an angry response from the Saudi Foreign Minister.

Despite the deepening row, Saudi Arabia says Qataris are welcome to attend the Haj, which is due to begin this month.

Qatar has also claimed the boycotting countries were in violation of the air travel treaty because they blocked Qatari flights from their airspace, a charge negated by the UN’s aviation authority, the International Civil Aviation Authority.

Saudi Arabia has also provided emergency corridors for Qatar through their airspace.

Desperate to lift the boycott, Qatar also launched a legal process at the World Trade Organisation, requesting consultations with the three Gulf countries and triggering a 60-day deadline for them to settle the complaint or face litigation at the WTO and potential retaliatory trade sanctions.

The wide-ranging legal complaint at the Geneva-based body is set to fail as the economic sanctions imposed on Qatar by the three fellow Gulf states do not violate WTO agreements, the Quartet has said.

Qatar has also accused Egypt of misusing its position on the UN Security Council, but Cairo denied the allegation in a letter to the council on Thursday, and accused Qatar of supporting terrorist groups financially and ideologically in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

Dr. Ayman Salama, a member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs and professor of international law at Cairo University, believes the boycott and the economic sanctions by the Arab quartet is completely legal that cannot be challenged, especially as Qatar has repeatedly undermined their national security.

“The measures taken by the Arab quartet are sovereign steps to protect the security and the safety of their countries,” Dr Salama told Gulf News.

Qatar’s public relations campaigns have also been dismal failures in making the right impression among Americans, as the Arab News/YouGov poll shows.

Half of respondents said they do not know enough about the Gulf state to pass judgement.

Yet, the next highest response rate — at some 34 per cent — reflects those whom associate Qatar with terror financing.

The poll also shows that most Americans, at 63 per cent, recognise Al Jazeera as a news source, but they do not believe that the network reflects professional journalism standards, which means many Americans do not trust Al Jazeera’s reporting.

Qatar news updates: UK joins calls to end sanctions against Qatar – latest on Gulf crisis

July 25, 2017
BRITAIN is calling for Arab states to end the embargo on Qatar as the Turkish President leaves the Gulf after failing to end the crisis. Here are the latest updates and breaking news on the Qatar blockade.

The Express
PUBLISHED: 08:00, Tue, Jul 25, 2017 | UPDATED: 08:58, Tue, Jul 25, 2017

Qatar news updatesAFP Getty

Qatar news updates: Gulf crisis latest as UK joins call to end sanctions

  • Boris Johnson backed the Qatari Emir’s call for dialogue to end the blockade 
  • Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar last month
  • The Gulf states have scaled back their Qatar demands to six principles 
  • Doha reject accusations that it finances extremist groups

Here are live updates, breaking news and the most recent information on the escalating Gulf crisis. (All times BST)

3.30am: Egypt reiterates blockade commitment

Egypt has insisted it will continue to maintain a blockade of Qatar as four Arab states yet again hammer the embattled nation with a series of bans.

The country’s President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said Cairo will “not backtrack” on the blockade, adding: “Our persistence on its own, our stance, and this block, is pressure in itself.”

Monday 9.20pm: Turkish President leaves Qatar

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has left Qatar having apparently failed to bring about any resolution to the row in the Gulf.

Turkey has been Qatar’s most powerful ally in the dispute, rushing through legislation to send more troops to its base in Doha as a sign of support.

But after a two day visit to the region, where he also visited Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, discussions appear to still be at stalemate.

Qatari state news agency QNA said that Qatar’s ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, had “reviewed regional developments, specifically the Gulf crisis and efforts to contain it and to resolve it through diplomatic means…” in talks with Erdogan.

The agency said the talks also covered joint efforts to combat terrorism and reviewed defence and economic cooperation.

Several contingents of Turkish troops with columns of armoured vehicles have arrived in Doha since the crisis erupted on June 5.

Under a 2014 agreement, Ankara could send in as many as 1,000 troops.

7.30pm: Russia is prepared to mediate the Gulf crisis 

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared Russia’s readiness to mediate the diplomatic row that has shaken the Middle East.

“We are interested in this crisis being overcome, taking into account mutual concerns and finding solutions which will be acceptable for all participants of this process,” Mr Lavrov told Kurdish television channel Rudaw.

“We support the mediating efforts which are being made by the Emir of Kuwait… If as part of those efforts or in addition to them all sides think that Russia could also do something useful, we will be ready to respond to such appeals,” the Minster added.

6.11pm: Qatar’s Emir and Turkish President discuss the Gulf crisis

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with the Emir of Qatar in Doha to discuss mediation efforts surrounding the diplomatic row.

Both sides praised Kuwait’s involvement and talked about joint efforts in combating “terrorism and extremism”.

Mr Erdogan is currently on a tour of the Middle East.

5.30pm: Russia is ready to act as mediator if asked

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Russia is ready to play the role of mediator in the Qatar dispute if asked.

Monday 1pm: The Turkish President visits Qatar 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has landed in Qatar – the last stop on a Gulf tour in an attempt to resolve the crisis.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Emir of KuwaitAFP Getty

Qatar news updates: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Emir of Kuwait

Monday noon: Pilgrims from Qatar can fly to Saudi Arabia

Pilgrims from Qatar will be allowed to fly to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca as long as they do not travel with Qatar Airways.

The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said: “Pilgrims from Qatar who have Hajj permits … can come directly from Doha or through any other transit place.”

Monday 10am: TV channels linked to Qatar unblocked in Saudi Arabia

Websites and some television channels linked to Qatar were unblocked in Saudi Arabia but the change arose from a technical glitch and the restrictions will be reimposed shortly, a key Saudi royal court adviser said.

As part of the boycott on Qatar, Saudi and Emirati authorities blocked the Qatari state-funded television network Al Jazeera and spin-off channels of beIN Sports.

But on Monday morning, Saudi viewers reported that beIN sports channels and websites were back operating, while Al Jazeera satellite channels remained blocked.

“The lifting of the block on websites of the Qatari authorities was due to a technical error and will be fixed within the coming hours,” tweeted Saudi royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani.

As of late Monday morning, Al Jazeera remained blocked in both countries, along with the websites for Qatar Airways and Doha News.

Sunday 9.30pm: Emir of Kuwait meets Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah in Kuwait in a bid to resolve the Gulf crisis.

It came after he met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Sunday.

Last month Turkey’s President rejected a demand by Saudi Arabia and its allies that it withdraw its troops from Qatar.

“To ask Turkey to pull out its troops from Qatar is firstly disrespectful behaviour towards us,” he said in Istanbul.

Erdogan: We will continue to give all our support to Qatar

Noon on Sunday: Boris Johnson calls for Qatar embargo to be lifted 

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson backed the Emir of Qatar’s call for dialogue to resolve the ongoing diplomatic dispute with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.

He said: ”I welcome the Emir of Qatar’s commitment to combat terrorism in all its manifestations, including terrorist financing.

“The Emir also pledged to resolve the remaining differences with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain through dialogue, negotiation, and Kuwaiti mediation.

“These steps will help to resolve the dispute.

“We hope that in turn Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain respond by taking steps towards lifting the embargo. This will allow substantive discussions on remaining differences to begin.

“The UK will continue to engage our partners in the region to help them reach a solution, including assisting Kuwait’s important efforts in whatever way we can.”

Friday: Emir of Qatar calls for dialogue to resolve Gulf crisis 

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, called for dialogue to end what he described as an unjust “siege” on Qatar.

He said: “The time has come for us to spare the people from the political differences between the governments.”

In a televised speech, he rejected accusations made by the four Gulf states that Qatar is financing extremist groups and supporting terrorism.

He said: ”Qatar is fighting terrorism relentlessly and without compromise, and the international community recognises this.”

In response, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Relations Anwar al-Gargash tweeted that while dialogue is necessary, Qatar must review its policies because repeating its previous positions only “deepens the crisis”.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he was satisfied with Qatar’s efforts to implement an agreement to combat terrorist financing, and urged Arab states to lift the “land blockade”.

Gaza may already be ‘unlivable’: UN official

July 11, 2017



© AFP/File | Palestinian women bake bread next to their makeshift home in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on April 19, 2017

JERUSALEM (AFP) – The Gaza Strip may already be “unlivable”, a United Nations official warned Tuesday, after a decade of Hamas rule and a crippling Israeli blockade.

Robert Piper, the UN’s top humanitarian official in the Palestinian territories, told AFP in an interview to mark a new report on living conditions in Gaza all the “indicators are going in the wrong direction”.

“We predicted some years ago that Gaza would fast become unlivable on a host of indicators and that deadline is actually approaching even faster than we predicted — from health access, to energy to water,” he said.

A 2012 UN report predicted the Palestinian enclave would be “unlivable” by 2020 if nothing was done to ease the blockade.

Piper pointed out that power supplies were down to as little as two hours a day in Gaza, where medical care had been slashed and youth unemployment was over 60 percent.

In such circumstances “for most of us that unlivability point has already been passed”, he said.

“And yet somehow the Gazans soldier on.”

The Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas seized Gaza in 2007, leading Israel to impose a crippling blockade which critics say punishes all of the two million residents indiscriminately.

Since 2013 Egypt, the only other country with which Gaza shares a border, has largely closed off its crossing and destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels that provided a vital lifeline for the economy while also allegedly being used by Hamas to smuggle weapons.

The new UN report, “Gaza — Ten Years Later,” says more than 95 percent of Gaza’s water is now unfit for drinking, while electricity supplies have reached critical levels in recent months — falling to only a few hours a day.

The secular Palestinian Authority, which runs the internationally recognised government in the West Bank, has recently begun a campaign to squeeze Hamas — including cutting funding for electricity and allegedly reducing the number of permits given to sick Gazans seeking medical treatment outside the enclave.

Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, the most recent in 2014.


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Nikki Haley

Turkey’s Erdogan denounces demands on Qatar

June 25, 2017

By Al Jazeera

Turkish leader criticises list of demands presented by Saudi-led countries that cut ties with Qatar and prompted crisis.

Erdogan says the Saudi-led ultimatum is ‘against international law’ [File: Matt Dunham/EPA]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has welcomed Qatar’s stand on a list of demands from Saudi Arabia and its allies, saying that the ultimatum is “against international law”.

Qatar has rejected the accusations and said the measures are “unjustified”.

“We welcome [Qatar’s position] because we consider the 13-point list against international law,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency on Sunday.

Turkey has offered support to Qatar after Saudi Arabia and several other countries severed ties with Qatar over accusations of funding terrorism and fomenting regional instability.

On June 7, Turkey’s parliament fast-tracked legislation to allow troops to be deployed to a military base in Qatar, two days after the Saudi-led countries cut ties with Doha in the worst diplomatic crisis in the region in years.

Turkey has a military base in Qatar that currently houses about 90 Turkish soldiers.

The Turkish forces conducted their first training at Tariq bin Ziyad military base earlier this month in a drill that had been long planned.

Qatar on Saturday denounced the ultimatum as unreasonable and an impingement on the emirate’s sovereignty.

The list was received by Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 22, the state-run Qatar News Agency said.

“This list of demands confirms what Qatar has said from the beginning – the illegal blockade has nothing to do with combating terrorism, it is about limiting Qatar’s sovereignty, and outsourcing our foreign policy,” Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al Thani, director of the Qatari government’s communications office, said in a statement on Friday.

WATCH: What is behind the campaign against Al Jazeera?

Qatar also said it is reviewing the demands and is preparing an official response after confirming the receipt of the document containing the demands.

“The state of Qatar is currently studying this paper, the demands contained therein and the foundations on which they were based, in order to prepare an appropriate response to it and hand it over to the state of Kuwait,” QNA said, citing a statement by the ministry of foreign affairs.

Kuwait has been acting as a mediator to defuse the crisis that erupted on June 5 when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt announced they were severing relations with Qatar, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”.

The four countries have not provided any evidence, and Qatar has repeatedly denied the allegations as baseless.

Deadline for compliance

Earlier on Friday, reports emerged that the Saudi-led bloc had given Qatar 10 days to comply with 13 demands, which included shutting down the Al Jazeera Media Network, closing a Turkish military base and scaling down ties with Iran.

In the document, the countries demanded that Qatar severs all alleged ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and with other groups, including Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

The document also states that Qatar must consent to monthly compliance audits in the first year after agreeing to the demands, followed by quarterly audits in the second year, and annual audits in the following 10 years.

The list includes a demand that Qatar pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other financial losses allegedly caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years.

The document did not specify what the countries will do if Qatar refuses to comply.

Amir Handjani, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Al Jazeera that the demands are a “non-starter”.

“This is a very aggressive position that the Saudi coalition is taking. I think it’s an opening gambit in a long, protracted negotiation,” he said.

“The Saudis are signalling to the Qataris that they are willing to dig in. And I think the Qataris are not going to cave. So I expect tensions to rise.”

Handjani said that the demands amounted to a request that Qatar give up its sovereignty.

READ MORE: The GCC crisis – Draconian demands and juvenile politics

“I am sure as temperatures rise, other countries such as the United States, the UK, the French – who have longstanding ties with the GCC countries … will step in and try and play a mediating role,” he said.

The White House said on Friday that the rift between the countries is a “family issue” and the four Arab states “should work it out”.

Sean Spicer, the US press secretary, said the US will not intervene unless it is “asked to join … and facilitate” discussions between the countries involved.



Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

UAE Says Will Not Back Down in Dispute if Qatar Declines to Cooperate

June 23, 2017

WASHINGTON — The United Arab Emirates, one of four Arab countries embroiled in a political dispute with Qatar, said on Friday it would not back down if Doha does not engage with demands that include requiring it to curb ties with Iran.

The countries’ ultimatum to Doha includes closing Al Jazeera television, curbing ties with Iran, shutting a Turkish base and paying reparations, demands so far-reaching it would appear to be hard for Doha to comply.

“This is our list of demands from Qatar. They’re (demands) are all important. This is a consistent pattern of behavior that affects all of us,” the UAE ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, told Reuters. “We would hope that Qatar reacts by engaging and not by leaking documents and trying to have this litigated in public.”

If Qatar does not engage, “things will stay at the status quo, things will stay as they are,” he said.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE have cut economic, diplomatic and travel ties with Qatar, which they accuse of funding terrorism, fomenting regional unrest and drawing too close to their enemy, Iran.

Qatar rejects those accusations and says it is being punished for straying from its neighbors’ backing for authoritarian hereditary and military rulers.

Otaiba also accused Qatar of leaking the 13-point list of demands, an accusation made by UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash earlier on Friday.

Image result for UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, photos

UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs AnwarGargash

Asked to respond to accusations by UAE officials that Qatar had leaked the document, the Qatar embassy in Washington did not comment.

The UAE has said sanctions could last for years. Qatar, the world’s richest country per capita, says the sanctions amount to a “blockade,” but it has ample reserves to weather the storm.

Washington, which is a close military ally of countries on both sides of the dispute, had called for a resolution. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Qatar’s neighbors should make their demands “reasonable and actionable”.

The dispute is a test for the United States, which has a large base in Qatar that is home to the headquarters of its Middle East air power and 11,000 troops.

(Reporting by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Alistair Bell and Jonathan Oatis)


 (Includes links to earlier Saudi, Qatar dispute articles)

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)

Qatar Crisis: Turkey Says Dispute Harms Islamic World, Working for Resolution

June 14, 2017

ANKARA — The crisis surrounding Qatar is damaging for the Islamic world and Turkey is working to help resolve the issue through diplomacy, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference, Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey was sending food assistance to Qatar after neighbouring Gulf Arab states severed ties with Doha and imposed sanctions saying it supports terrorism and courts regional rival Iran.

Kalin also said a Turkish military base in Qatar, set up before the regional spat, was established to ensure the security of the whole region and did not have an aim of any military action against any country.

(Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Humeyra Pamuk)



Bahrain lawyer arrested for suing over Qatar blockade

June 14, 2017

Prominent human rights activist says Bahrain’s constitution outlaws imposing sanctions on fellow Gulf bloc countries.

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa joined the blockade on Qatar along with other Gulf nations [Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters]

A prominent human rights lawyer in Bahrain has been arrested after launching a lawsuit against the government over its restrictions imposed on neighbouring Qatar.

Issa Faraj Arhama al-Burshaid was detained after challenging Manama’s sanctions, which include blocking Qataris from staying in the country along with other economic penalties.

He filed the case with the Supreme Administrative Court in Manama against the Cabinet, Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry.

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He described the measures taken by his country against Qatar as “arbitrary”.

“This siege has broken up family ties and hurt all Bahraini families,” said Burshaid. “The decision to cut diplomatic relations violates Bahrain’s constitution and laws.”

Bahrain on Thursday declared it a crime – punishable by imprisonment of up to five years and a fine – to show “sympathy or favouritism” to Qatar or to object in any way to Bahrain’s decision to break relations and impose economic and border restrictions on its neighbour.

The United Arab Emirates made a similar move – with a possible 15-year penalty – prohibiting criticism of its government or sympathy towards Qatar “whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form”.

Bahrain’s director-general of the Anti-Corruption and Financial and Electronic Security agency said Burshaid was arrested because materials were posted on social media that “damage the social fibre and national unity”.

The Ministry of the Interior issued a statement on June 8 saying any sympathy to the government of Qatar – or objection to measures by Bahrain published on social media or otherwise – is a punishable crime.

The director-general said the necessary legal measures are being finalised to bring Burshaid’s case to prosecutors.

The Bahraini lawyer argued the sanctions against Qatar violate articles of Bahrain’s constitution, which clearly indicates the country must maintain economic unity among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.

Burshaid also noted the constitution prohibits imposing any bans on Qataris.

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He said accusations of Qatar “supporting terrorism” must be dealt with by the UN Security Council, not by just a few nations.

While the ban on Qataris staying in Bahrain breaks families up in the two countries, it also imposes restrictions on the free movement of Bahraini citizens, Burshaid said.

Gulf Cooperation Council members Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain along with Egypt severed ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of fomenting regional unrest, supporting “terrorism”, and getting too close to Iran, all of which Doha denies.

Source: Al Jazeera News