Category: Gulf Land of Qatar


June 15, 2017

Co-founder of Algeria’s Islamic Salvation Front, Sheikh Ali Belhadj, has criticized the siege imposed by a number of Gulf and Arab countries on Qatar.

In an interview with Quds Press, Belhadj strongly criticized the involvement of Islamic institutions and using them to achieve political purposes against the State of Qatar.

“The involvement of the Muslim World League, with the aim of gaining legitimacy for the siege against Qatar, is an insult to this institution and to the teachings of Islam which refuse such behavior in the holy month of Ramadan,” he said.

The Muslim World League should have remained neutral towards this dispute and sought to heal the rift instead of involving itself in such a way.

Belhadj pointed out that Qatar is not the target of the blockade, but the aim is to strike every Arab or Islamic country that wants to support the oppressed or the Palestinian cause.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170615-algerias-belhadj-slams-boycott-of-qatar/.

June 15, 2017

King Salman of Saudi Arabia has given Pakistan’s prime minister an ultimatum over Qatar. In an attempt to force Nawaz Sharif to take sides, the monarch jibed, “Are you with us or with Qatar?” the Express Tribune has reported.

The king posed the question during a meeting between the two leaders in Jeddah on Monday as part of the effort to find a diplomatic solution to the Qatar crisis. “Pakistan has told Saudi Arabia it will not take sides in the brewing diplomatic crisis in the Middle East after Riyadh asked Islamabad ‘are you with us or with Qatar’,” the newspaper pointed out.

Pakistan has been treading a careful path since Saudi and other Gulf countries cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. However, the Saudi government wants Pakistan to side with the kingdom.

Citing a senior government official, who was briefed on the talks at the monarch’s palace in Jeddah, the Express Tribune said that Pakistan would not take sides in any event that would create divisions within the Muslim world. “Nevertheless, in order to placate Saudi Arabia, Pakistan offered to use its influence over Qatar to defuse the situation. For this purpose, the prime minister will undertake visits to Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey,” the newspaper added.

Sharif traveled to Jeddah accompanied by army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and other senior officials to discuss the emerging situation in the Gulf. It is thought that Prime Minister Sharif’s mediation visit to Saudi did not achieve any immediate breakthrough.

According to an official statement, Sharif met King Salman in Jeddah and urged an early resolution of the impasse in Gulf in the best interest of all Muslims.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170615-saudi-king-gives-pakistans-prime-minister-an-ultimatum-over-qatar/.

June 14, 2017

Jordan’s economy has incurred losses worth $2 million since a closure of the Saudi land borders last week against the Jordanian exports heading to Qatar as a result of the Gulf diplomatic rift.

On 5 June, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and began an economic blockade against the Gulf state. Jordan later joined the move by announcing a reduction in diplomatic representation with Qatar.

According to sources at Jordan’s Exporters and Producers Association for Fruits and Vegetables, Jordanian traders who have previously signed exporting contracts with Qatar, started exporting their products by air.

Jordanian shipments’ volume to the Gulf state has also dropped to 90 tons per day, down from 600 tons per day before the blockade.

According to Al Jazeera, Saudi Arabia has prevented the entry of 85 Jordanian trucks loaded with vegetables and fruits, and over 10 trucks which were loaded with livestock heading to Qatar, following the rift.

Qatar has begun pursuing alternative routes and agreeing on new deals with other countries to counter the blockade imposed by most of its neighboring Arab states. Turkey was ready to help resolve the dispute, according to the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, while Iranian officials have offered to send food to Qatar by sea.

Moreover the Danish company, A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, which owns the world’s biggest container line, has worked to bypass the transport ban imposed on Qatar by using alternative routes. Last Friday, it announced that it would begin container shipments to Qatar via Oman, avoiding trade restrictions imposed on the Gulf state by Arab countries.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170614-jordan-plunges-into-economic-crisis-following-qatar-blockade/.

07.06.2017

The move came days after the coalition terminated Qatar’s membership in the anti-Houthi bloc, which has been launching an air campaign against Houthi rebels, who overran Sanaa and other Yemeni provinces in 2014.

According to QNA, top army brass had welcomed the troops on Tuesday.

On Monday, five Arab countries – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen – cut ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.

Qatar denied the accusations, saying the move to cut ties with it was “unjustified” and aimed to impose guardianship on the Gulf country.

The new escalation came two weeks after the website of Qatar’s official news agency was allegedly hacked by unknown individuals who reportedly published statements falsely attributed to its emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani.

The incident triggered a diplomatic row between Qatar and its neighbors, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Source: Anadolu Agency.

Link: http://aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/qatari-forces-in-anti-houthi-coalition-return-to-doha/836255.

2017-06-09

DUBAI – The diplomatic crisis surrounding the Gulf escalated further Friday after Saudi Arabia and its allies placed a number of Qataris and Doha-based organisations on a “terror list”.

As many as 18 individuals were named, including members of Qatar’s royal family and a former minister.

Also named were Doha-based Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Qatari-funded charities.

The list was published jointly by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain — which accuse Qatar of supporting Islamist extremist groups and have cut ties with Doha.

“This list is connected to Qatar and serves suspicious agendas in an indication of the duality of Qatar policies,” said the statement.

It shows that Qatar “announces fighting terrorism on one hand and finances and supports and hosts different terrorist organisations on the other hand”.

In all, 59 people and entities were listed.

It was released hours after Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said Doha would not “surrender” and rejected any interference in its foreign policy.

Qatar said the blacklist had no basis in reality.

“The recent joint statement issued by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE regarding a ‘terror finance watch list’ once again reinforces baseless allegations that hold no foundation in fact,” a government statement read.

“Our position on countering terrorism is stronger than many of the signatories of the joint statement — a fact that has been conveniently ignored by the authors.”

It added: “We lead the region in attacking the roots of terrorism.”

– Spiraling crisis –

Friday’s spat is unlikely to ease regional tensions in a spiraling political crisis which also threatens to involve the US, Russia, Europe and other major players such as Turkey and Iran.

Turkey’s parliament has approved deploying troops to a base in Qatar and Iran has offered to send food to Doha.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain led a string of countries that cut ties with Qatar over what they say is the emirate’s financing of extremist groups and its ties to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional arch-rival.

They also banned Qatar Airways from their airspace and closed Qatar’s only land border with Saudi Arabia, moves Doha’s foreign minister termed a “blockade”.

On Friday, Sheikh Mohammed held surprise talks in Germany with his counterpart Sigmar Gabriel.

In a press conference, he claimed the actions by the Gulf states were “a clear breach of international law”.

Denouncing the blacklist, he added: “There is a continuous escalation from these countries… but our strategic options are still diplomacy and dialogue.”

Gabriel stressed that “this is the hour of diplomacy”.

So far, European countries have largely stayed on the sidelines in the dispute.

Sheikh Mohammed is expected in Moscow Saturday, and officials said Friday he spoke with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by telephone.

– Blacklist steps up pressure –

The blacklist is the latest allegation by Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar since the crisis erupted late last month.

The Arab states have also ordered Qataris out within 14 days.

Qatar’s national human rights committee said families had been split and hundreds of people affected.

The feud has raised fears of wider instability in an already volatile region that is a crucial global energy supplier and home to several Western military bases.

Kuwait — which unlike most of its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members has not cut ties with Qatar — has led mediation efforts.

US President Donald Trump, who had initially backed the measures against Qatar in a tweet, called Sheik Tamim on Wednesday with an offer “to help the parties resolve their differences”.

Qatar hosts the Al-Udeid military base, the largest US airbase in the Middle East that is central to the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Questions have also been raised over whether Qatar should retain the right to host the 2022 football World Cup and over its economic ability to sustain the crisis.

Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of Liquid Natural Gas, but industry experts say shipowners are seeking clarity on the UAE’s ban on Qatari-linked vessels calling at its ports.

“The ban will certainly have an impact on cargo contracts… where Qatar is a source or destination,” said Singapore-based shipping lawyer K Murali Pany.

– Forged own policies –

Analysts say the crisis is partly an extension of a 2014 dispute, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain temporarily recalled their ambassadors over Qatari support for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

A top Gulf official, on condition of anonymity, told AFP that a major concern was the influence of Sheikh Tamim’s father Sheikh Hamad, who had allowed the Taliban to open an office in Doha and helped arm Syrian rebels before abdicating in 2013.

Doha has for years forged its own alliances in the region, often diverging from GCC policies and taking in leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian Hamas and members of the Afghan Taliban.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://middle-east-online.com/english/?id=83469.

January 16, 2017

The Amir of Qatar, Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, has ordered his government to pay the costs of Gaza’s electricity supply for three months, official sources announced on Sunday. Qatar’s Ambassador to Palestine told the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah that his country will pay $4 million per month as part of this agreement.

Mohamed Al-Emadi released a press statement to explain that the funds will be transferred to the PA “immediately” in order to relieve the suffering of the Palestinian in Gaza. He also noted that there are intensified contacts with the authority regarding current proposals to find a permanent solution for the crisis.

The ambassador explained that these decisions were made after a meeting between Amir Tamim and senior Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh in Doha.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170116-qatar-pays-gaza-electricity-costs-for-three-months/.

JAN. 9, 2017

GAZA (Ma’an) — Qatar has reportedly decided to build an embassy in the besieged Gaza Strip during a meeting of the Qatari committee for Gaza reconstruction on Monday.

The head of the committee, Abd al-Halim al-Issawi, gave the greenlight for the construction of the embassy after visiting the planned location, a five-dunam (1.2 acres) plot of land south of the Gaza City port, on Thursday with contractors.

While Qatar has had a representative office in the besieged Palestinian enclave, the planned embassy could mark a significant diplomatic move, as most countries have implanted their diplomatic missions and consulates to the occupied Palestinian territory in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Qatar is a prominent backer of the Hamas movement — the de facto ruling party in Gaza — and has provided significant financial support for reconstruction in the blockaded enclave following several devastating Israeli offensives.

Naji Sharab, a professor of political science at Gaza’s al-Azhar University, told the Dunya al-Watan news outlet that “such a step is unprecedented in diplomatic relations,” and that he saw it as a potential move by Qatar to recognize the Gaza Strip as a national entity separate from the Palestinian Authority-ruled West Bank.

However, Dunya al-Watan quoted another political analyst and writer, Hussam al-Dajani, as saying that embassies are usually located in the capital cities of the host countries, but that given East Jerusalem’s occupied status, “Qatar can choose a location for its embassy to Palestine in coordination with the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

Al-Dajani thus dismissed the significance of the move “as long as the Foreign Ministry in Ramallah and the one in Gaza are in agreement.”

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

Link: http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=774823.

October 8, 2016

Turkey’s Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or IHH, and the Sheikh Thani bin Abdullah Foundation for Humanitarian Services, RAF have sent 250 tons of flour to war-torn Syria, the IHH secretary general said on Friday.

A 50-truck convoy departed from Turkey’s southern border province of Hatay and headed to Syria’s Aleppo and Idlib provinces, IHH Secretary General Yavuz Dede said.

Last month, a UN aid convoy was attacked as it was about to enter Aleppo, where 275,000 civilians need humanitarian assistance.

The attack in Urum al-Kubra, west of Aleppo, killed the head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, as well as aid staff and drivers in a 31-truck convoy.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the regime of Bashar al-Assad cracked down on pro-democracy protests.

The Syrian Center for Policy Research, a Beirut-based NGO, has put the total death toll from the five-year conflict at more than 470,000.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161008-turkey-qatar-send-250-tons-of-flour-to-syria/.

September 28, 2016

A private British school in Qatar has come under fire after putting up a display of the Israeli flag this week.

The flag was erected in the main hall of Doha College West Bay where it was spotted by parents.

Qatar’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education tweeted about the incident on Monday, saying the school had “apologized for any distress caused.”

The ministry then explained that the flag was put up to display member nations of the UN and that Israel’s flag was displayed in error and was taken down.

The school’s headmaster Dr. Steffen Sommer told the Doha News the incident involved “an error of judgement.”

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160928-school-in-qatar-removes-israeli-flag-from-its-corridor/.

Author Shlomi Eldar

September 7, 2016

Translator Ruti Sinai

The top Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud al-Zahar, left Gaza on Sept. 3 for the airport in Cairo through the Rafah border crossing, accompanied by a large delegation of some 50 Hamas officials. This appears to be the largest group of officials, activists and bodyguards ever to leave Gaza as a group. Haniyeh’s family members joined the delegation, too. Ahmad Bahar, a senior veteran Hamas official and the first deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was supposed to join the group, but sources in Gaza told Al-Monitor that Egypt refused to grant him a travel permit at the border and he was forced to return home.

The Egyptians closely scrutinized every name on the list submitted by the Hamas leadership, and all members of the delegation were required to undergo extensive security checks at the border. From there, they headed for the airport in Cairo and boarded a flight to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. At the Rafah border crossing, Hamas officials could see hundreds of Gaza residents — hungry and desperate men, women and children who had left Gaza for medical treatment, as the Egyptian authorities imposed on them difficult procedures for entering the Gaza Strip upon their return.

The departure of the Hamas delegation is additional proof of the dramatic changes underway that will determine the movement’s direction and future.

Haniyeh was joined by his wife and three of his youngest children. His son Abed, considered to wield significant influence within Hamas, stayed behind to look after his father’s interests and maintain his link with the Gaza security forces in his absence. As Al-Monitor reported in June, from the moment the head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, announced that he would not seek re-election in the upcoming balloting for the movement’s leadership, the road was paved for Haniyeh’s succession. No one else has dared run against him, not even Hamas senior Mousa Abu Marzouk, who established the political bureau and saved it from annihilation at least twice in the past.

Elections for the movement’s leadership will be held at the end of the year, but Haniyeh is planning to relocate with his family and close associates to Qatar, from where he will conduct Hamas’ affairs in the coming, most critical months in the movement’s history.

It is not yet clear whether he plans to follow in the footsteps of Meshaal, who moved to Doha permanently after escaping from Damascus in 2012, or only to stay there through the election process, until he is officially declared the movement’s leader and the outgoing leadership hands over the reins. Meshaal has headed the political bureau and steered it since 1996.

Upon arrival in Qatar, members of the delegation will be invited for a welcoming meeting with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who has enabled the Hamas political bureau to operate from his country. But the important point is that by moving to Qatar for the next few months, Haniyeh will be able to come and go as he pleases — contrary to his situation in the Gaza Strip. Thus, he will be able to manage freely the bureau and engage in the campaign to raise money for Hamas in those countries ready to accept him.

The delegation’s first stop is Saudi Arabia, where they will fulfill their hajj duty in the holy city of Mecca. The planned pilgrimage enabled the Hamas delegation to get Egypt’s permission to leave Gaza with relative ease. Not all the delegation members will then head for Qatar; Zahar intends to travel to Tehran and meet Iran’s top spiritual leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. While Meshaal has in recent years been a persona non grata in Iran, and all attempts at reconciliation between the sides failed, Zahar is the only one among the top Hamas officials to have maintained ties with Iran.

The future direction of Hamas will be determined in Doha and Tehran. If Zahar succeeds in appeasing Iran, mending the deep schism created by Meshaal between Hamas and Iran and getting Khamenei’s blessing, the movement’s leadership can breathe easy and hope for the removal of the stranglehold crippling it in recent years, especially in financial terms. A tightening of the ties with Iran would invariably lead to the loss of Saudi support and restore Hamas’ former obligation to take its marching orders from Iran.

The military arm of Hamas has long been pressing the movement’s leadership to reconcile with Tehran as the only way to strengthen the organization with weapons and military equipment and to prepare it for a possible military confrontation with Israel.

If Iran sends Zahar away with polite words, and does not restore the relationship and the extent of its aid to previous levels, before the crisis between the sides, the burden will fall on Haniyeh’s shoulders. Sources in Gaza believe this is the reason Haniyeh left for Qatar at this time, well before the elections. He wants to put out feelers to all the Arab states to open up new channels of aid, including from Muslim foundations around the world.

Haniyeh and Zahar are two arrowheads heading in separate directions. The direction that yields the most impressive results will dictate Hamas’ future moves. In the event the movement fails in its efforts to substantially increase aid from Iran and Qatar, Haniyeh and Zahar will be forced to adopt a third, least preferable option: reconciliation with the Fatah movement and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

If Hamas is forced to turn to the Palestinian Authority (PA) for help, it will have to cede partial control of the Gaza Strip. This is one of the reasons why senior Fatah officials believe Hamas wants the PA to win many municipal districts in Gaza in the upcoming local elections slated for Oct. 8. Hamas leaders understand, as Al-Monitor reported recently, that the presence in Gaza of Fatah heads of councils could encourage the European Union to resume the infusion of money to Gaza. Now it seems that Hamas also hopes that such a presence will open up a window for Fatah-Hamas reconciliation.

The Hamas delegation has left on a critical mission to save the movement. If its leaders know how to read the map of tensions and different interests of various Arab state blocs, and to draw relevant conclusions for their movement’s future, they also know there is not much reason to be optimistic.

Source: al-Monitor.

Link: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/09/israel-qatar-or-iran-who-will-save-hamas.html.