Posts Tagged ‘Qatar’s Emir’

Experts doubt Emirati claim Qatar intercepted aircraft

January 16, 2018

Al Jazeera

Image may contain: airplane

Qatar called the UAE’s claim completely false

Analysts have expressed scepticism at the UAE’sclaim that Qatari fighter jets intercepted Emirati passenger planes.

On Monday, Emirati state media said two civilian airliners bound for Bahrain were intercepted by Qatar, citing the country’s General Bahrain (GCAA).

Qatar strongly rejected the claims, describing them as a “systematic attack” by the UAE to draw attention away from its own violations of Qatari air space.

Last week, Doha filed a complaint to the UN Security Council over two alleged instances of Emirati military aircraft entering Qatari air space.

 Image may contain: sky, airplane and outdoor

Aviation analyst Alex Macheras said that if Monday’s incident had taken place as described, he would expect the airlines involved to come forward; a formal complaint to be made to international bodies; and passengers on board the flights to have shared pictures.

“The international community for aviation expects the UN to be notified with details of the interception, time, coordinates, location and a full run-down of what happened … exactly like what Qatar supplied the UN with when the UAE military flew over Doha’s economic area,” Macheras told Al Jazeera.

“Until then, it seems these accusations are more in retaliation to being the subject of Qatar’s UN complaint rather than a genuine occurrence.”

At the time of publication, no airline had come forward to say its aircraft were involved in the alleged incident.

“Crews and passengers saw the incidents with their naked eyes, which proves that the interception posed a present and clear threat to lives of innocent civilians” – CAA

And yet:
• one UAE airline is denying
• another won’t comment
• not a single report from a passenger

The claims by Emirati media outlets were made amid an ongoing diplomatic crisis between Qatar and three neighbouring Gulf states plus Egypt.

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt broke off ties with Doha accusing it of supporting “terrorist” groups and aligning itself too closely to their regional rival, Iran.

The quartet imposed a land, sea, and air blockade on Qatar, and also prevented Qatari aircraft from entering their air space.

Qatar vehemently rejects the accusations and has refrained from imposing reciprocal punitive measures on the four states.

The UAE reports said the planes were inside Qatar’s air space at the time they were intercepted.

Emirati airliners are allowed in Qatar’s air space because Doha did not impose restrictions after the blockade came into effect. Qatari planes are, however, blocked from Emirati airspace under a series of punishing measures.

King’s College London academic, Andreas Krieg, said he thought the allegation that Qatar intercepted Emirati airliners was “fake news” and that the country had no incentive to breach International Air Transport Association (IATA) rules.

“Qatar is in full compliance with IATA regulations,” Krieg told Al Jazeera. “Qatar has built its entire narrative on being a reliable partner in multilateral organisations and institutions.”

He explained that Doha would gain nothing from breaching the “very rules that Qatar is suing the UAE for”.

“It would run counter to Qatari government policy to respect international obligations even when dealing with companies or private individuals from the blockading countries.”

Krieg, a defence specialist who has worked as a security consultant to the Qatari armed forces, said the UAE was partaking in a “massive media campaign” against Qatar, which was aimed at undermining the country’s international reputation.

He accused the Emiratis of spreading “alternative facts” and said that since June 2017, the vast majority of claims made by the UAE “were either exaggerated, manipulated or blatant lies”.

“In recent years, they have invested billions worldwide in what they see [as] a war over narratives,” he said.

In July 2017, the Qatari government condemned the UAE for its alleged role in orchestrating the hack of Qatar’s state news agency and publishing false comments attributed to Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

The UAE has denied involvement in the hack.




Gulf rulers boycotting Qatar skip GCC annual summit

December 5, 2017

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Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani gestures as he poses for a family photo during the annual summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), in Kuwait City, Kuwait, December 5, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed Reuters

By Ahmed Hagagy

KUWAIT (Reuters) – Qatar’s Emir said on Tuesday he hoped a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Kuwait would help maintain stability in the region, Al-Jazeera TV said, though four Arab heads of state involved in a rift with Qatar stayed away.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt which have imposed economic, diplomatic and trade sanctions on Qatar in a dispute that began in June, sent ministers or deputy prime ministers instead to the annual event.

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who with Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah were the only heads of state to attend the meeting, acknowledged that the summit took place in “highly sensitive circumstances” in the life of the GCC.

“I am full of hope that the summit will lead to results that will maintain the security of the Gulf and its stability,” Tamim said, according to the Doha-based Al-Jazeera.

Sheikh Sabah, opening the summit, called for a mechanism to be set up in the Western-backed grouping to resolve disputes among its members.

Relations within the Gulf have soured since the four Arab states accused Qatar of supporting terrorism. Qatar had denied the charges.

Kuwait, which had spearheaded unsuccessful mediation efforts since the rift began, had hoped the summit would provide an opportunity for leaders to meet face-to-face and discuss the crisis, according to two Gulf diplomats.

Earlier, the UAE said it would set up a bilateral cooperation committee with Saudi Arabia, separate from the GCC, on political, economic and military issues.

UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan said the new committee would be chaired by Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, Mohammed Bin Zayed, state news agency WAM reported.

Saudi Arabia has not yet commented.

The proposal also coincides with an escalation in the conflict in Yemen, where both Saudi Arabia and the UAE are heavily involved. Veteran former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed in a roadside attack on Monday after switching sides in Yemen’s civil war, abandoning his Iran-aligned Houthi allies in favor of a Saudi-led coalition.

Founded in 1980 as a bulwark against bigger neighbors Iran and Iraq, the GCC is facing an existential crisis after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, charges Doha denies.

(Writing by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Spotlight on Qatar as Gulf gears up for summit

December 4, 2017


© AFP / by Omar Hassan Abdulla | A picture taken on December 4, 2017 shows a general view of the meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of foreign ministers at the Bayan palace in Kuwait City

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – Gulf foreign ministers gathered Monday in Kuwait on the eve of an annual summit bringing together Qatar and its feuding neighbours despite little hope for an end to the bitter rift.Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani will be at the summit, but less than 24 hours before it was due to begin it was still unclear whether the rulers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain would also attend.

Those three Gulf states, together with Egypt, cut all ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing the gas-rich emirate of supporting Islamist extremists and of being too close to Shiite Iran, Riyadh’s arch-rival. Qatar denies the allegations.

Mediation efforts led by Kuwait have failed to resolve what is the worst crisis to hit the Gulf Cooperation Council in its 36-year history, casting serious doubts over the future of the six-state alliance.

As Kuwait readied to host the two-day GCC summit, analysts said its efforts to bring about a peaceful end to the crisis may be at a complete standstill.

“The crisis is too deep and very complicated… I don’t think it will be resolved during the summit,” said independent Kuwaiti political analyst Saleh al-Saeedi.

“But I think Kuwait hopes to at least freeze the dispute, stop its deterioration and move on to the next step.”

Founded in 1981, the GCC is a political and economic union grouping Qatar with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as Oman and Kuwait.

Qatar has accused the Saudi-led Arab bloc of aiming to incite a change of regime in Doha.

Besides the Qatari emir, it is still unclear who will attend.

Oman has said it will be sending a senior official to represent its ruler Sultan Qaboos, who traditionally stays away from summits.

The other GCC states have yet to announce who they would be sending, although some Kuwaiti media have reported Saudi King Salman may attend.

– Once-powerful bloc threatened –

On Monday, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar attended round-table talks ahead of the gathering, in their first such encounter since the diplomatic crisis erupted in June.

Oman Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Yussef bin Alawi sat between them at the meeting which the foreign ministers of the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait also attended.

After cutting off all ties with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed a land, sea and air blockade of the emirate and issued a list of 13 demands to have it lifted.

Bahrain in October openly called for Qatar’s membership of the GCC to be suspended until it accepted the demands.

Experts warn that the crisis could lead to the demise of the once-powerful GCC.

“The justifications for the existence of the GCC bloc amidst the continued crisis are no longer present like before,” said Sami al-Faraj, head of the Kuwait Center for Strategic Studies.

“As long as our enemy has changed from Iran to Qatar, the GCC will not continue.”

The failure of the GCC members to solidify long-delayed plans for economic unity may also threaten its future.

The Gulf states have approved a customs union, a common market, a single currency and a single central bank but most of these have yet to be properly implemented.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting, Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah stressed the determination of member states to preserve the GCC.

“The GCC is a continuous project in which the will of member states meets to build a unified Gulf body,” he said.

GCC chief Abdullatif al-Zayyani told the meeting that the region’s difficulties coupled with security and political challenges required members to consolidate solidarity and unity.

by Omar Hassan Abdulla

Qatari, Saudi ministers at summit talks despite Gulf spat

December 4, 2017


© AFP | Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani at the GCC foreign ministers’ meeting in Kuwait City on December 4, 2017

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar attended round-table talks Monday ahead of a regional Gulf summit, in their first such encounter since Riyadh cut all ties with Doha.The meeting was also attended by UAE state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash and Bahrain’s assistant foreign minister, Abdullah al-Dossari.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, as well as Egypt on June 5 severed all political and economic relations with tiny gas-rich Qatar.

They accused the emirate of backing extremist groups, a charge it denied.

There have been no contacts between the two sides since then.

Oman’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Yussef bin Alawi sat between Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir.

Monday’s meeting, which was also attended by the foreign ministers of Kuwait and Oman, is to prepare the agenda for the GCC annual summit in Kuwait City on December 5 and 6.

Founded in 1981, the GCC is a political and economic union grouping Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, as well as Oman and Kuwait.

It was not immediately known if the foreign ministers and the leaders at the summit will discuss the worst political dispute in the GCC’s 36-year history.

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is attending the summit, but it was not immediately known who will represent Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

Qatar’s emir visiting Malaysia

October 15, 2017

The emir planned to hold talks with Malaysian leaders to strengthen bilateral relations [Getty Images]

The emir planned to hold talks with Malaysian leaders to strengthen bilateral relations [Getty Images]

From Al Jazeera

Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is in Malaysia for a two-day state visit, accompanied by a business delegation and cabinet members.

The emir, who arrived on Sunday, planned to hold talks with Malaysian leaders to strengthen bilateral relations, particularly in the fields of energy, the economy and investment.

Here is an overview of Qatari-Malaysian economic and political relations.

World Cup

  • In preparation for hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022, Qatar is undertaking many construction projects, including a rail network, eight stadiums and the new city of Lusail.
  • Qatar’s need for wood in the context of this construction boom has presented a strategic opportunity for timber-exporting Malaysia. Since the Saudi-led blockade was imposed on Qatar in June, Malaysia has replaced Saudi Arabia as a steel supplier to Qatar.
  • Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Hamidi, who visited Qatar in February, has expressed hopes that Malaysian companies would be able to participate in World Cup development projects.
  • There are 15 Malaysian companies operating in Qatar in the contracting, infrastructure and hospitality sectors.

Bilateral trade 

  • Qatar and Malaysia formed a $2bn joint investment fund in 2011.
  • In 2016, total trade between the two countries amounted to $566m, according to Malaysian local media figures. Today, the trade volume amounts to nearly $1.1bn, according to the Qatar News Agency.
  • Malaysian exports to Qatar include machinery, wood products, electrical equipment and metal products. Malaysia exports timber to 218 countries around the world, identifying the timber industry as key to its 2020 development plan.
  • Malaysian imports from Qatar mainly include petroleum, chemicals, aluminium products, light machinery and equipment.

Diplomatic relations

  • The emir’s visit comes after Malaysia received Saudi Arabia’s King Salman at the end of February. Malaysia has friendly relations with both Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
  • Commenting on the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and three of its neighbours in the Gulf, the Malaysian prime minister said: “We pray that with the grace of Allah the Almighty, all differences among our Arab brothers will be settled amicably and that the unity and harmony of the GCC countries can be restored.”
  • The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1974 through the Qatari embassy in Indonesia. A Qatari embassy in Kuala Lumpur was established in 2004.
  • Qatar’s former emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, visited Malaysia in 2009, while the Malaysian king visited Qatar in 2010.


Saudi lobbyist advocates for a new Emir in Qatar

September 3, 2017

Saudi Press Agency

Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani with King Salman

The head of a big Saudi lobbying group shocked many people this week by openly calling for regime change in Qatar.

Image result for Doha News, logo

Salman Al-Ansari, the founder and president of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), tweeted his support for a new Qatari Emir on Eid.

The move comes as the blockade against Qatar by its neighbors passes the 90-day mark, with no end in sight.

I urge the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) to recognize Shaikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani ( @abdullahthanii ) as the only legitimate Emir of 

In his tweet, Al-Ansari urged Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to support Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani as the “only legitimate” leader of Qatar.

Rising profile

Sheikh Abdullah is a member of Qatar’s ruling family, but up until recently was relatively unknown to most. He owns property in Saudi Arabia and is married to a Saudi woman.

Last month, Gulf media began praising Al Thani after he met with Saudi Arabia’s king twice on visits unconnected to the Qatari government. He also apparently spent Eid with King Salman.

Additionally, a Twitter account was recently started in his name, and gained hundreds of thousands of followers in a day.

At the time, analysts criticized what appeared to be a strategy by Qatar’s neighbors to undermine Sheikh Tamim.

Since the Gulf dispute began in June, public support for Qatar’s Emir has only grown.

Online reaction

On Twitter, some Saudis hailed the idea of regime change in Qatar, saying it could help end the ongoing crisis.

But many expats and locals in Qatar dismissed the suggestion as ludicrous and hypocritical.

They pointed out that the boycotting countries have stressed to Qatar the importance of not interfering in other nations’ internal affairs.

Attempting to prop up a new leader in Qatar is doing exactly that, many said.

Qatar has not officially commented on Al-Ansari’s tweet.

But in a statement on Eid, the nation’s foreign minister said that “the recent developments related to the Gulf crisis have not been needed, especially in this period of time of multiple conflicts.”