Posts Tagged ‘compensation’

The Blockade Of Qatar Is Failing — Qatar Could Seek Damages

July 19, 2017

In the grown-up world of geopolitics, the Saudi and Emirati-led move against Doha does not seem to be achieving its goals.

Image may contain: skyscraper, sky, ocean, outdoor and water
Food supplies and other goods are still flowing into Qatar’s docks and airports (Representational)

.
It’s hard to imagine the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates thought it would go this way. Officials from their governments – as well as junior partners Egypt and Bahrain – described the punitive sanctions they collectively slapped on Qatar in early June as an unfortunate but necessary action, aimed at bringing the pesky Qataris to heel. It was as if Qatar, accused by its neighbors of fomenting extremism near and far, was an unruly child who needed to be disciplined.

But in the grown-up world of geopolitics, the Saudi and Emirati-led move against Doha does not seem to be achieving its goals. Rather than isolating Qatar, it has deepened Qatari ties with regional powers Turkey and Iran. Oman and Kuwait, two other states in the Gulf Cooperation Council, have not joined in. Food supplies and other goods are still flowing into Qatar’s docks and airports. And, no matter the White House’s mixed messaging, American diplomats appear to be pushing for conciliation and compromise with Qatar rather than seeking Doha’s acquiescence to the Saudi and Emirati demands.

“As with their disastrous war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the UAE radically overstated their prospects for success and failed to have a plausible plan B in case things did not go to plan,” wrote Marc Lynch, a Middle East expert at George Washington University. “The anti-Qatar quartet seems to have overestimated Qatari fears of isolation from the GCC and their own ability to inflict harm on their neighbor.”

 

A new Washington Post report this week added to the awkwardness facing the blockaders. According to unnamed U.S. intelligence officials, the UAE was behind a controversial late-May hack of Qatari government news and social media sites that helped trigger the crisis. The hack attributed false quotes to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, that had him celebrating Iran as an “Islamic power” and praising Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

Image result for Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani,, photos

Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani

Despite Doha’s vociferous denials, the furor led Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to ban Qatari media, then later break relations with Doha and impose their trade and diplomatic boycott. U.S. officials “became aware last week that newly analyzed information gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation,” my colleagues Karen DeYoung and Ellen Nakashima reported. “The officials said it remains unclear whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or contracted to have them done.”

In a statement, the UAE’s ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, rejected these claims. “The UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article,” he said, before reiterating his country’s complaints about Qatar’s maverick foreign policy. “What is true is Qatar’s behavior. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas … Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors.”

There is plenty of precedent for rumors and murky innuendo fueling tensions in this part of the world: A rupture in relations in 2014 saw false news reports proliferate about Saudi and Emirati citizens being banned from Harrods, the London department store owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

Analysts explain that the current impasse is an extension of long-running disagreements and tensions with Qatar, which has irritated its larger neighbors by using its riches to play an outsized role on the world stage. At issue are squabbles over support for different proxies in conflicts from Syria and Libya, as well as the provocative work of Qatari-funded network Al Jazeera, which Riyadh and Abu Dhabi want to see shut down.

The Qataris have also charted a different diplomatic path from their neighbors, playing host to political offices for groups such as the Taliban and Hamas in a bid to mediate regional conflicts. “Against a backdrop of purring limousines and dhows moored in the bay, Doha has become home to an exotic array of fighters, financiers and ideologues, a neutral city with echoes of Vienna in the Cold War, or a Persian Gulf version of the fictional pirate bar in the Star Wars movies,” wrote Declan Walsh of the New York Times.

“It’s always been this place where waifs and strays and unwanted people ended up,” said David B. Roberts, the author of “Qatar: Securing the Global Ambitions of a City-State,” to the Times. “There was no overarching power on the peninsula, so if you were wanted by a sheikh, you could escape to Qatar and nobody would bother you.”

So the crisis among the wealthy Persian Gulf states rumbles on. Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson carried out a fitful round of shuttle diplomacy in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in an attempt to defuse the situation. The squabbling countries are all U.S. allies – Qatar hosts the United States’ largest military base in the Middle East – and Tillerson would prefer everyone calm down and get back to other issues, notably the fight against the Islamic State. But his efforts have yet to bear much fruit.

Tillerson made a public gambit in Doha, signing a memorandum of understanding in which Qatar pledged to do more to block funding for extremist groups in the Middle East and elsewhere. It quickly became a farce. “The Qataris boasted that they were the first in the region to sign such a pact and urged the Arabs allied against them to do the same,” my colleague Carol Morello wrote. “The four countries heading the embargo claimed credit for pressuring Qatar into signing, and simultaneously dismissed it as ‘insufficient’ to end their embargo.”

The Saudi Embassy tweeted, “President Trump: Qatar ‘Known as a Funder of Terrorism'”

On Monday, as the Emiratis were rejecting the hacking allegations, the Saudi Embassy in Washington tweeted lines from an interview with President Trump where he had lashed out at Qatar. It was yet another illustration of the dissonance between the White House and State Department over the crisis – and yet another reminder that the quarrel in the Gulf won’t stop anytime soon.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

**************************************

Al Jazeera

Qatar considers seeking damages over Gulf blockade

Economy minister discusses compensation with trade officials in Geneva as legal team prepares to study the sanctions.

Qatar’s defence minister says Doha could take its case before the World Court [Reuters]

Qatar has announced that it is considering legal action against four Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, demanding compensation for losses incurred owing to the ongoing blockade.

Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar’s economy minister, met on Tuesday the heads of international trade organisations in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the case for compensation.

Qatar has contracted a specialised legal team to study the actions taken by the blockading countries against it, according to a statement from the economy ministry in Doha.

READ MORE: France calls for lifting of sanctions on Qatar citizens

Separately, Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah, Qatar’s defence minister, said the country may even its case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court, at The Hague.

Because of its financial reserves and as long as it can continue exporting liquefied natural gas, Qatar has avoided any crippling economic crisis because of the blockade.

But it has been forced to rely on planes to import food, after Saudi Arabia and the UAEblocked shipment of goods into Qatar.

Several other businesses were also disrupted, including the country’s national flag carrier Qatar Airways, whose flights to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain remain suspended.

Legal measures

The development comes a day after Qatar officials said the government was considering “legal measures” locally and internationally over the alleged hacking of the state news agency.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Tuesday, Marwan Kabalan of the Doha Institute said that over the past weeks, Qatar has been trying to use “different tools to undermine the blockade”.

The “balance of power” within the Gulf region is now “tilting towards Qatar”, particularly after the Washington Post revelation of UAE’s role in the hacking that precipitated the crisis.

Qatar Airways flights to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain remain suspended [Reuters]

With the Gulf crisis entering its eighth week, however, there is no sign of the dispute being resolved soon.

Earlier, Mohammed Cherkaoui, professor of conflict resolution at George Mason University in Virginia, told Al Jazeera that regional and international mediation have faced “several setbacks”. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar on June 5.

The quartet accuse Qatar of funding “terrorism”, an accusation Qatar rejects as “baseless”.

On June 22, the Saudi-led 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 lift the sanctions.

Qatar rejected the demands and the countries now consider the list “null and void”.

Kuwait is trying to mediate in the dispute, and countries such as the US and France have urged the parties to engage in direct talks.

Qatar and several countries have called for the lifting of the sanctions before face-to-face talks can proceed.

Daniel Hannan, a Conservative British member of the European Parliament who visited Qatar on Monday, said the continuing blockade on Qatar is not helpful in resolving the crisis.

“There is almost no situation in the world that isn’t made worse by an economic blockade,” Hannan told Al Jazeera.

Hannan said an “immediate lifting” of the sanctions could pave the way for talks, saying: “It is very difficult to negotiate with a gun to your head.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/qatar-weighs-seeking-damages-gulf-blockade-170718145928093.html

Americans Feel Good About the Economy, Not So Good About Trump

July 17, 2017

By John McCormick
Bloomberg

July 17, 2017, 4:00 AM EDT
  • Just 40 percent approve of president’s performance in office
  • Narrow majority expect stock market to be higher by year’s end
Traders pass in front of an American flag displayed outside of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York.

 Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

Almost six months into Donald Trump’s presidency, Americans are feeling fairly optimistic about their jobs, the strength of the U.S. economy, and their own fortunes. That should be welcome news for the president, except for one thing: The public’s confidence largely appears to be in spite of Trump, not because of him.

The latest Bloomberg National Poll shows 58 percent of Americans believe they’re moving closer to realizing their own career and financial aspirations, tied for the highest recorded in the poll since the question was first asked in February 2013.

A majority expect the U.S. stock market to be higher by the end of this year, while 30 percent anticipate a decline. Yet they don’t necessarily think Trump deserves credit for rising markets and falling unemployment.

Just 40 percent of Americans approve of the job he is doing in the White House, and 55 percent now view him unfavorably, up 12 points since December. Sixty-one percent say the nation is headed down the wrong path, also up 12 points since December.

Trump scored his best numbers on his handling of the economy, but even there the news for him isn’t great. Less than half of Americans — 46 percent — approve of Trump’s performance on the economy; 44 percent disapprove. He gets slightly better marks for job creation, with 47 percent approving.

“If you take the president’s scores out of this poll, you see a nation increasingly happy about the economy,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the survey. “When Trump’s name is mentioned, the clouds gather.”

In nearly every measure of his performance, the poll indicates that Trump’s tumultuous presidency is not wearing well with the public. A 56 percent majority say they’re more pessimistic about Trump because of his statements and actions since the election. That’s a huge swing since December when 55 percent said his statements and actions made them more optimistic about him.

Read the poll questions and methodology here.

The public has grown more skeptical that Trump will deliver on some of his most ambitious campaign promises. Two-thirds don’t think he’ll succeed in building a wall along the Mexican border during his first term. More than half say he won’t be able to revive the coal industry.

A majority — 54 percent — believe Trump will manage to create trade deals more beneficial to the U.S., but that’s down from 66 percent in December. There’s division on whether he’ll be able to bring a substantial number of jobs back to America, or significantly reform the tax code.

And despite his assurances that he and congressional Republicans will repeal Obamacare and replace it with a “beautiful” new health care bill, 64 percent of Americans say they disapprove of his handling of the issue. That’s especially significant because health care topped unemployment, terrorism and immigration as the issue poll respondents chose as the most important challenge facing the nation right now.

There are at least two areas where Americans say they believe Trump will deliver: Almost two-thirds say he will make significant cuts in government regulation, though it’s not clear whether most think that’s a good or bad thing. Likewise, 53 percent believe he will succeed in deporting millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

The public is also skeptical about Trump’s abilities as a world leader, with 58 percent saying they disapprove of the way he handles relations with other countries and 46 percent disappointed in his actions on trade agreements.

Americans are more pessimistic about foreign policy than they were in December. Fifty-five percent now say they expect dealings with Germany to get worse during the next four years, up 22 points. The share of poll respondents who anticipate worsening relations with the U.K., Mexico, Cuba and Russia also increased by double digits.

The public is also wary of Trump’s motives in his negotiations with other countries. Just 24 percent said they were “very confident” that Trump puts the nation’s interests ahead of his businesses or family when dealing with foreign leaders.

Americans have plenty of other worries about the world. Majorities believe it’s realistic that terrorists will launch a major attack on U.S. soil (68 percent) and that North Korea will launch a nuclear weapon aimed at the U.S. (55 percent).

Trump has called the expanding investigations into possible connections between his presidential campaign and Russia a “witch hunt.” But the public isn’t necessarily taking his side. Since the president’s decision to oust former FBI Director James Comey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s standing has improved. It’s now viewed favorably by 68 percent, up 10 points since December. Comey is viewed positively by 43 percent, while 36 percent see him negatively.

Meanwhile, most Americans don’t share the president’s apparent soft spot for Vladimir Putin: 65 percent view the Russian president negatively — and 53 percent say it’s realistic to think Russian hacking will disrupt future U.S. elections.

There is one notable bright spot for Trump. Though views of the White House as an institution are at the lowest level ever recorded by the poll — with 48 percent now viewing it unfavorably, up 21 points since December — Trump’s voters are still sticking with him. Among those who cast ballots for him, 89 percent still say he’s doing a good job.

The telephone poll of 1,001 American adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, higher among subgroups. It was conducted July 8-12 by Iowa-based Selzer & Co.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-17/americans-feel-good-about-the-economy-not-so-good-about-trump-j57v0var

UK Will Not a Pay Penny More Than Necessary for EU Exit Bill: Brexit Minister — National Audit Office Director Asks, “Can Theresa May Hold Her Government Together?”

July 13, 2017

LONDON — Britain will not pay the European Union a penny more than it needs as part of its Brexit settlement, junior Brexit minister Steve Baker said on Thursday.

“We know that we have rights and obligations and we are testing the European claims, but we won’t pay a penny more than we need to,” Baker told Sky News.

Baker declined to say how much Britain might have to pay.

(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill, editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

Boris Johnson Says ‘Go Whistle’ — “Seems to me to be extortionate.”

Related:

*******************************************

Can Theresa May Hold Her Government Together?

Theresa May’s Government could ‘come apart like a chocolate orange’ over Brexit, watchdog chief warns

The Prime Minister CREDIT: MATT DUNHAM

Theresa May’s Government is putting a successful Brexit at risk by failing to show “active and energetic” leadership, the head of the National Audit Office has warned.

In an unprecedented intervention Sir Amyas Morse said Whitehall departments are being left to “struggle on their own” with the challenges of Brexit because of a failure of leadership and direction.

Image result for Sir Amyas Morse, photos

Sir Amyas Morse

He said the Government could “come apart like a chocolate orange” unless departments are given more support, as he warned Mrs May that Brexit poses the “biggest challenge” since the Second World War.

Departments should not be left to decide which of the many projects they are in charge of to prioritise by themselves, the head of the financial watchdog added.

Sir Amyas also revealed that David Davis’s Brexit department failed to show him a plan for how leaving the EU will work, despite his requests, and could only offer a “vague” explanation as to why it was unable to.

The Prime Minister and her Brexit Secretary
The Prime Minister and her Brexit Secretary CREDIT: AFP

“Government will need to be fast and flexible and act in a unified way,” he said. “We have an issue here because of departmental Government and what we don’t want to find is that at the first tap it comes apart like a chocolate orange …It raises questions about whether this unified approach is actually happening”.

The remarks follow weeks of speculation about the Prime Minister’s ability to lead her party following the result of the general election which saw the Conservatives lose seats.

Ministers in Mrs May’s own ranks have reportedly begun plotting her replacement, with some warning she will not survive in Number 10 past the party’s annual conference in October.

And fears of a rift between the Prime Minister and her Cabinet colleagues over the UK’s future relationship with the EU, including membership of the Customs Union and and transitional period, led her to relaunch her Brexit plan earlier this week.

Speaking yesterday Sir Amyas said the scale of the task ahead is “only just starting to click into people’s awareness in Government”, adding that leaving the EU means ministers will not have “space for legislating on other issues”.

He added: “This is a massive challenge, probably the biggest challenge for any Government in peacetime.

“Can Government actually step up in these very difficult circumstances and deliver a unified response? I’m not seeing it yet.

“If it’s there and I haven’t seen it, I will be delighted and happy to hold my hands up, just show me the plan.”

 Much more:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/12/theresa-mays-government-could-come-apart-like-chocolate-orange/

Boris Johnson Says EU Can ‘Go Whistle’ for Big Brexit Bill — “The sums that I have seen that they propose to demand from this country seem to me to be extortionate.”

July 11, 2017

LONDON — British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says the European Union can “go whistle” if it thinks it can demand an “extortionate” payment from the U.K. to leave the bloc.

The EU says Britain has to pay a bill to cover pension liabilities for EU staff and other commitments the U.K. has agreed to. The bloc says major progress must be made on settling the bill before negotiations can start on the U.K.’s future relationship with the EU.

Estimates of the amount have ranged up to 100 billion euros ($114 billion).

Johnson said Tuesday that “the sums that I have seen that they propose to demand from this country seem to me to be extortionate.”

He told lawmakers in the House of Commons: “I think ‘go whistle’ is an entirely appropriate expression.”

*************************************

What is the Brexit ‘divorce bill’?

The European Union expects the UK to make a financial settlement on exiting the EU. The full balance of this has yet to be negotiated, but it will be calculated based on the following:

  1. The ongoing EU budget. The current EU budgetary period began in 2014 and continues until 2020 – a year after the UK is expected to withdraw. EU negotiators argue that the UK government voted on and agreed to contribute funding to, for example, long-term infrastructure projects until 2020. The UK government would rather these funding commitments ended in 2019.
  2. Liabilities for loans. The UK backed European Union development lending to other member states, for example Ireland, the Ukraine and Portugal. The EU wants us to make funds available to cover the chance of these loans defaulting. This money would eventually be repaid as each of the loans cleared.
  3. Pension promises. The UK would be expected to cover the pension contributions of EU officials employed during its membership period.
  4. Other expenses. For example, two European Union agencies are currently based in the UK. The European Banking Authority and the European Medicines Agency will need to relocate after Brexit.

Balancing this bill will be:

  • The UK’s usual rebate from EU contributions
  • A discount of whatever EU spending was supposed to be allocated to the UK
  • A share of assets, such as capital from the European Central Bank or the value of European Union buildings built during our membership

See: European Union withdrawal directives

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/11/boris-johnson-accuses-eu-extortion-brexit-divorce-bill-says/

*******************************************

BBC News

Boris Johnson: EU can ‘go whistle’ over Brexit divorce bill

Boris Johnson

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has told MPs the European Union can “go whistle” for any “extortionate” final payment from the UK on Brexit. HOC

And he said that the government had “no plan” for what to do in the event of no deal being agreed with the EU.

He said: “The sums I have seen that they propose to demand from this country appear to be extortionate.”

“Go whistle seems to me to be an entirely appropriate expression,” he added.

Asked during Commons questions if there was a strategy, either public or private, for what would happen if there was no agreement on Brexit, Mr Johnson said: “There is no plan for no deal because we are going to get a great deal.”

His comments come after No 10 sources played down suggestions that Theresa May plans to walk out of Brexit talks in September to show defiance over EU demands for a divorce bill worth tens of billions of pounds.

Mrs May has said that her view going into the Brexit negotiations was that “no deal is better than a bad deal”.

Mr Johnson’s comments seem to be at odds with Brexit Secretary David Davis, who told the BBC last month that the government had “worked up in detail” the “no deal” option on Brexit.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-40571123

Tillerson in Qatar as leaks spark fresh Gulf tension — Tillerson Calls Qatari Position ‘Reasonable’

July 11, 2017

AFP

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (2-R) in Doha, Qatar July 11, 2017. REUTERS – Tom Finn

DOHA (AFP) – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Qatar Tuesday for talks on the Gulf diplomatic crisis as leaks of secret agreements between regional powers triggered fresh tensions.

Hopes of a resolution to the five-week crisis seem increasingly remote as Tillerson’s arrival in Doha was overshadowed by the publication of confidential agreements between Qatar and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states in which all sides had pledged to combat terror funding and avoid interference in other states.

Publication of the accords, dated 2013 and 2014, caused both sides in the deadlocked dispute to launch a fresh round of mutual accusations over ties to Islamist extremist groups.

Tillerson arrived in Kuwait on Monday and will visit regional powerhouse, and longtime US ally, Saudi Arabia before leaving the Gulf Thursday.

Kuwait has emerged as the main mediator in the conflict between Qatar and a group of Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, over allegations Doha was too close to both Islamist extremists and Shiite Iran.

Tillerson is due to meet Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in Doha before returning to Kuwait later Tuesday.

– ‘No clean hands’ –

Tillerson does not appear hopeful of an imminent solution to the Gulf crisis, the worst to hit the GCC since its establishment in 1981.

The US State Department has warned the crisis could last months.

“We’ve had one round of exchanges and dialogue and didn’t advance the ball,” said adviser R.C. Hammond.

“We will work with Kuwait and see if we can hash out a different strategy.”

Kuwait, the United States and Britain issued a joint statement following Monday’s talks, appealing to the Gulf foes “to quickly contain the current crisis and resolve it at the earliest through dialogue,” according to a statement cited by the KUNA news agency.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt on June 5 announced sanctions, effective immediately, against Qatar over accusations Doha supported Islamist extremism and was too close to Iran.

The four states severed all diplomatic ties, suspended transport links with Doha and ordered all Qataris to return home within 14 days.

On June 22, the Saudi-led bloc issued a list of 13 demands which, if met, would end the sanctions, including closing broadcast giant Al-Jazeera, downgrading ties to Iran and shutting a Turkish military base in Doha.

Qatar refused to comply with the demands and has consistently denied accusations of ties to Islamist groups.

The US has said the 13-point list was not an entirely viable option to end the crisis.

“Individually there are things in there that could work,” said Hammond.

“This is a two-way street,” he said. “There are no clean hands.”

– Riyadh agreements –

The publication of the Riyadh agreements on Monday appears to have renewed hostility between Qatar and its neighbours.

US broadcaster CNN aired leaked papers in which Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait — and later Bahrain and the UAE — had signed accords forbidding support for any opposition and hostile groups in their own nations, as well as in Egypt and Yemen.

A joint statement released by the Saudi-led bloc boycotting Qatar confirmed the documents proved “beyond any doubt Qatar’s failure to meet its commitments and its full violation of its pledges”.

Doha, however, maintains that the boycott is in violation of the 2013 and 2014 agreements.

A statement from the Government Communications Office said the current “siege” was “a clear violation” of the GCC’s charter and the Riyadh agreements.

– US interests –

Tillerson’s visit is the latest in a series by officials to the region, including UN diplomats and the foreign ministers of Germany, Britain and Oman.

The United States and its Western allies have vast economic and political interests in the Gulf, which pumps one fifth of the world’s oil supplies, houses one third of proven global crude reserves and sits on one fifth of the world’s natural gas deposits.

Tillerson is a former CEO of Exxon Mobil.

Qatar is also home to the US military’s largest air base in the region, Al-Udeid. Rival Bahrain houses the US Navy Fifth Fleet.

Analysts say Tillerson’s impact largely depends on his ability to manoeuvre regional scepticism over the extent to which he in fact represents the president of the United States.

US President Donald Trump initially supported longtime American ally Saudi Arabia, but his stance was later contradicted when the US Department of State took a more neutral position.

Tillerson’s team has also adopted a more neutral position against both sides in the conflict.

by David HARDING
.
Related:
.
 
.

Our history of reports on the Qatar crisis:

Egypt: 

 (Contains links to previous related articles)

.
.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
*****************************
.

DOHA (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in the Qatari capital Doha on Tuesday it had “reasonable” views in the month-old diplomatic crisis with Arab neighbors.

“I think Qatar has been quite clear in its positions, and I think those have been very reasonable,” Tillerson told reporters.

(Reporting By Tom Finn; Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Qatar seeks compensation over Arab blockade — Even While Qatar’s central banker boasts $340B in reserves — “All our books, they are open”

July 10, 2017

Qatari attorney general says country would pursue compensation claims against rivals Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates

Image may contain: 1 person

Qatar’s attorney general Ali bin Fetais al-Marri Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Qatar sought to apply pressure to the four states laying siege to its economy on Sunday by saying it had set up a special committee to pursue multi-billion compensation claims against them.

The announcement by Qatar’s attorney general threatens to add a further costly legal dimension to the battle between Qatar and its rivals Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

The four countries in dispute with Qatar have already themselves demanded compensation from Doha for what they allege was past interference in their internal affairs. The demand is one of 13 made by the quartet – part of a major power struggle that has torn apart the west’s key Gulf allies.

The Qatari attorney general said the compensation claims would be made on behalf of the businesses affected by the land and air embargo imposed by the four countries. The four insist they are mounting only a boycott and not a blockade. Qatar’s attorney general, Ali bin Fetais-al Marri, said he had set up a central committee to collate claims.

The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, will visit the region on Monday to see if he can add to the mediation work already being led by Kuwait.

The UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, spent the weekend shuttling between the major regional capitals urging both sides to de-escalate the dispute.

decision is expected at the high court in London on Monday on whether the UK is in breach of its arms export licence laws for giving the go-ahead to the UK defence industry to sells arms to Saudi.

The Campaign against the Arms Trade has brought a judicial review claiming the UK government should have suspended arms sales on the basis there was a serious risk the Saudis would use the arms in the war in Yemen in breach of international humanitarian law.

***********************************************

Qatar’s central banker boasts $340B in reserves, says country not worried about the current boycott

  • “We’re not guilty,” Abdullah Saud Al-Thani told CNBC in an exclusive interview Sunday
  • Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain are leading a boycott against Qatar
  • Abdullah Saud Al-Thani told CNBC that while the bank has noticed money outflows from some non-residents, the size of them wasn’t particularly significant

The governor of Qatar’s central bank believes the country’s economy will be able to fully withstand any financial shocks brought on by the dispute in the Gulf, and welcomed outsiders to investigate its accounts and money flows.

“We’re not guilty,” Abdullah Saud Al-Thani told CNBC in an exclusive interview Sunday. The central banker referred to the accusations placed by other Arab nations that accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism.

“We have no challenges, we welcome those to review all our books, they are open,” he added.

Qatar still finds itself excluded and singled out by its near neighbors. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain are leading a boycott against Qatar, and since last month have severed diplomatic and transport ties.

Qatar's central bank governor Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud al-Thani attends a meeting with other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) central bank chiefs in Kuwait City on March 24, 2010. GCC central bank chiefs are meeting to discuss progress towards regional monetary union.

YASSER AL-ZAYYAT | AFP | Getty Images
Qatar’s central bank governor Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud al-Thani attends a meeting with other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) central bank chiefs in Kuwait City on March 24, 2010. GCC central bank chiefs are meeting to discuss progress towards regional monetary union.

Doha denies charges that it supports terrorism, and denies that it has allied itself with regional foe Iran. Qatar is now seeking compensation for damages from the blockade. On Thursday evening, the four Arab nations released a joint statement pledging new political, economic and legal steps against Qatar, according to Reuters.

Still, the country’s central banker dismissed the allegations that have beset the country.

“Qatar has already had a good and unique system. We have laws established against all these kinds of terrorists ,” Al Thani told CNBC. “We work with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and other institutions to establish our laws and audits and reviews.”

Qatari stock markets have sunk lower on the boycott and the country’s currency—the riyal—has seen wild fluctuations, while credit ratings agencies have warned on a period of uncertainty for the nation.

However, Al-Thani told CNBC that while the bank has noticed money outflows from some non-residents, the size of them wasn’t particularly significant.

“There is more [money] coming in,” he said, confirming that inflows are exceeding the outflows.

Speaking at the bank’s headquarters in Doha, he said that the Qatar Central Bank had $40 billion in cash reserves plus gold. In addition, the Qatar Investment Authority has $300 billion in reserves that it could liquidate, he said. He also spoke of long-term contracts in the gas and oil sectors that were not seeing any disruptions.

“This is the credibility of our system, we have enough cash to preserve any – any kind of shock,” he said.

“So we don’t believe that there is anything to worry about at this moment. What I can say is that our environment is proof to anybody that we are first of all solid, strong and resilient against any kind of shocks,” he added.

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/09/qatar-hoard-of-340-billion-and-gold-bullion-means-its-not-worrying-about-the-current-boycott.html

UK foreign minister urges Arab states to end Qatar boycott

July 8, 2017

AFP

© KUNA/AFP | Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah (R) shakes hands with his British counterpart Boris Johnson in Kuwait City on July 8, 2017

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday urged Arab states to end their Qatar boycott, downplaying the odds of a military escalation in the worst crisis to grip the Gulf in years.Johnson met with his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah on Saturday and was scheduled to visit Qatar later in the day.

“What people need to see is de-escalation and progress towards tackling the funding of terrorism in the region, and progress toward an end to this blockade,” Johnson said, voicing support for Kuwait as a mediator in the crisis.

Johnson, who also held talks in Saudi Arabia on Friday, said it was “highly unlikely” that the current standoff would descend into military conflict.

“Everybody I have talked to said the opposite. No possibility of a military confrontation,” he said.

“The blockade is unwelcome and we hope there will be a de-escalation,” he added.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain last month announced the severing of all diplomatic ties with Qatar over allegations the emirate bankrolled Islamist extremists and had close ties to Saudi’s arch-rival Iran.

On June 22, they issued a 13-point list of demands, including downgrading ties with Iran and shutting down broadcaster Al-Jazeera, as a prerequisite to lift the sanctions, which include the closure of Qatar’s only land border and suspension of all flights to and from the country.

Doha has refused to comply with the demands and denies accusations of ties to Islamist groups.

Kuwait has been leading mediation efforts to resolve the crisis that is threatening the existence of the 36-year-old Gulf Cooperation Council.

Kuwaiti officials have held talks with the foreign ministers of Germany and fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Oman, which has not joined the Qatar boycott.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is scheduled to arrive in Kuwait on Monday for talks on the Gulf crisis.

Related:

Egypt: 

 (Contains links to previous related articles)

.
.

.
.
.
.
.
.

 

Qatar: Rex Tillerson to fly to Kuwait in effort to defuse crisis

July 8, 2017

US state department says Washington is concerned impasse with Saudi-led quartet of countries could drag on for months

Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, the Qatari foreign minister, meets Rex Tillerson in Washington DC on 27 June.
 Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, the Qatari foreign minister, meets Rex Tillerson in Washington DC on 27 June. Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

The US secretary of state will fly to the Gulf on Monday as the US steps up efforts to end a crisis in which a Saudi-led quartet of Arab countries have embargoed Qatar over what they say is its support for terrorism.

Rex Tillerson will fly to Kuwait, which has tried to mediate between the two sides, after Saudi Arabia and its allies warned of new steps against Doha as a deadline for action passed without the standoff being resolved.

A US state department spokeswoman said Washington was growing “increasingly concerned that the dispute is at an impasse” and could drag on for months.

Tillerson will arrive in Kuwait hard on the heels of the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who arrived in the region on Friday on his own mediation mission.

The US defence secretary, James Mattis, called his opposite number in gas-rich Qatar, Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah, to emphasise the “importance of de-escalating tensions … so all partners in the Gulf region can focus on next steps in meeting common goals,” the Pentagon said.

The two officials “affirmed the strategic security partnership” of their countries. The US stations 10,000 troops at a huge airbase in Qatar that is vital for the campaign against Islamic State.

Germany has also offered the help of its intelligence services to clear up allegations of Qatari funding of extremism.

The moves came as the four Arab countries isolating Qatar vowed to take additional steps after Qatar refused to accept a list of 13 demands – which include shutting down the cable news network al-Jazeera, based in Doha.

Read the rest:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/07/qatar-crisis-four-arab-states-vow-fresh-economic-and-political-sanctions

Related:

Egypt: 

**************************************

Al Jazeera

Qatar rejects Saudi-led group’s allegations

Accusations by Saudi Arabia and allies are baseless and amount to defamation, foreign ministry source says.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar on June 5 [AP Photo]
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar on June 5 [AP Photo]

Qatar has expressed regret over false claims in statements issued by Saudi Arabia and its allies in Cairo and Jeddah, describing the accusations by the anti-Doha quartet as defamation.

Qatar’s state news agency quoted a foreign ministry source as saying on Friday that the claims by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt about Qatar’s interference in internal affairs of other countries and financing terrorism are baseless allegations.

Qatar’s position of rejecting and condemning all forms of terrorism is consistent and known, the source said, adding:

“The State of Qatar is an active member committed to combating terrorism and its financing at regional and international levels. The international community attests to that.”

Qatar remains ready to “cooperate and review all claims that do not contradict the sovereignty of the State of Qatar,” the source continued.

The source also criticised the anti-Qatar group for accusing Doha of leaking the list of demands, saying the claims were baseless and could be refuted with evidence.

In a joint statement released late on Thursday, Saudi Arabia and its allies said that Qatar’s refusal of their list of 13 demands was proof of its links to terror groups and threatened to impose further sanctions on Doha over its refusal to bow to their ultimatum for ending the Gulf crisis.

READ MORE – All the latest updates about the Gulf crisis

“All political, economic and legal measures will be taken in the manner and at the time deemed appropriate to preserve the four countries’ rights, security and stability,” the statement said.

A similar document was issued on Wednesday after the foreign ministers of the quartet met in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

Crisis ‘could intensify’

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar on June 5 and imposed a land, air and sea blockade on the country.

They also ordered Qatari citizens to leave their territories and took various steps against Qatari firms and financial institutions.

On June 22, they issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of Al Jazeera, as a prerequisite to lift the sanctions. The quartet now considers the demands “null and void”.

The US state department warned on Thursday that the Gulf crisis is at an impasse and could potentially drag on for weeks or even months.

The US believes the crisis could “possibly even intensify”, Heather Nauert, a spokesperson for the state department, said.

Nauert did not specify what type of escalation the US fears, but she said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson remains in close contact with the countries involved.

Includes video:
.

As diplomatic crisis swirls around Qatar, standoff could last ‘many more months’

July 4, 2017

By Dan Murphy
CNBC

  • Qatar is likely to reject most of the demands from Saudi Arabia and its allies, which have a blockade of Qatar, a former U.S. ambassador to the country said Tuesday.
  • The crisis may persist for months, said Emily Hawthorne, a Middle East and North Africa analyst at Stratfor
Qatar in a 'much better position' to resist sanctions from Arab states
Qatar in a ‘much better position’ to resist sanctions from Arab states  8 Hours Ago | 03:46

Qatar is likely to reject the bulk of the demands put forward by Saudi Arabia and its allies after a damaging blockade that’s left the region in crisis, a former U.S. ambassador to the country said Tuesday.

Chase Untermeyer, who was ambassador to the country from 2004 to 2007, said there are few opportunities for compromise on the list of 13 demands, which include closing a Turkish military base and shutting down Al Jazeera, the state television network.

“Qatar clearly will reject these demands,” Untermeyer told CNBC’s “The Rundown.”

“The only thing I can possibly imagine would be to send away from Qatar representatives of various organizations and groups such as Hamas, that are not only obnoxious on their own sake, but are condemned by the United Nations and by the United States and other Western powers,” he added.

“That doesn’t really bother Saudi Arabia because Hamas’s chief target is Israel, but the fact is that if there were to be any kind of small bit of sacrifice, those kind of relationships can be easily done and not really affect the foreign policy of Qatar.”

Qatar, the world’s largest liquefied natural gas exporter, has provided an official response to the 13 demands to authorities in Kuwait —which is mediating the dispute between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt. No details of the reply have so far been made public.

New high-rise office buildings and hotels build the skyline opposite the promenade at the Al Corniche road on December 30, 2010 in Doha, Qatar.

Nadine Rupp | Getty Images
New high-rise office buildings and hotels build the skyline opposite the promenade at the Al Corniche road on December 30, 2010 in Doha, Qatar.

What they want

Saudi Arabia and its allies cut ties and transport links with Qatar a month ago, accusing the wealthy country of supporting terrorism. Qatar denied the charge and has stood steadfast, bringing in support from outsiders Iran and Turkey to ride out the storm.

Alongside shutting down a Turkish military base and silencing Al Jazeera, the blockade countries also requested Qatar sever all ties to “terrorist groups,” handover “terrorist figures” and align itself with other Gulf and Arab countries.

Qatar is also being asked to curb diplomatic ties Iran, which is a key rival of Saudi Arabia.

“Why should Qatar cut ties with Iran when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others among the blockading countries have their own ties with Iran?” said Untermeyer.

Qatar has said it is willing to discuss the matters, but described the 13 demands as being “made to be rejected.”

“Some of these things, they will absolutely not be able to budge on,” said Emily Hawthorne, a Middle East and North Africa analyst at geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor.

“Some of these demands really get at the fundamental components of Qatari foreign policy in ways that Qatar has made a name for itself over the past decade.”

The deadline for Qatar to comply with the demands had been due to expire on Sunday, but the blockade countries granted a 48-hour extension in order for Qatar to conform.

“The status quo right now is not an option, but economically, Qatar can outlast some of the economic pressure that some of the blockading countries have put on Doha,” Hawthorne added.

Qatar’s leverage

With neither side showing any sign of compromising publicly, Hawthorne said the crisis is likely to persist for months to come.

“Qatar is very good at maintaining balanced relationships, and that’s what it really wants to hold on to here,” she said.

“It can withstand the economic pressure, but it needs to hold on to maintaining balanced relationships with Russia, with the United States, with Iran as well as Saudi Arabia,” she added.

What does Qatar own around the world?

What does Qatar own around the world?  Thursday, 29 Jun 2017 | 3:05 AM ET | 04:08

The blockading countries, particularly the UAE, have threatened extra economic sanctions on Qatar, which Hawthorne said “would be a logical escalation from this point in the crisis.”

“It’s a difficult balancing act for Qatar, but I think you might see them capitulate somewhat or compromise somewhat on these demands, in order to cling to the things that it needs for its survival, like pragmatic relationships with Iran and the ability to invest broadly in Asia and in Europe without Saudi Arabia dictating what it’s investing in.”

No automatic alt text available.

The Al Jazeera influence

“I can’t overemphasize the importance of Al Jazeera. All of those other issues on the list are, I would think, secondary or tertiary compared to Al Jazeera,” Untermeyer told CNBC.

“That is the one thing that most aggravates and has always aggravated the Saudis and the Egyptians and various other nations,” he said.

Launched in 1996, Al Jazeera Arabic was the first independent news channel in the Arab world. It’s an important source of soft diplomacy for Qatar, broadcasting into more than 310 million homes across 100 countries, according to its website.

“Al Jazeera is a very visible part of the way in which Qatar has made itself out to be larger than the small size that it actually is,” said Hawthorne.

“If they were to tone that down a little bit, it’s possible that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain would relax some of their demands, but it’s really looking like this is going to last for many more months.”