Amir ex­presses bit­ter­ness, concern over Gulf cri­sis

Qatar, US ink coun­tert­er­ror deal Quar­tet, US FMs to meet

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah AlAh­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah yes­ter­day ex­pressed “bit­ter­ness” and is “ex­tremely con­cerned” over “un­prece­dented de­vel­op­ments” in the Gulf cri­sis. The Amir ap­pre­ci­ates the pos­i­tive re­ac­tions and mes­sages of sup­port of Kuwait’s me­di­a­tion ef­forts re­gard­ing the stale­mate, dis­played by Kuwaiti na­tion­als, Gulf states and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, read an Amiri Di­wan state­ment.

These ex­pres­sions of sup­port have “relieved” him from the re­sult­ing pain and “in­creased our de­ter­mi­na­tion” to re­solve the mat­ter, said HH the Amir, who is lead­ing me­di­a­tion ef­forts in the cri­sis in­volv­ing sev­eral Arab coun­tries. The Amir warned that the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil’s ac­com­plish­ments, based on the as­pi­ra­tions of its peo­ple, “can­not be com­pro­mised, and should be main­tained and ad­hered to”. “We will not sur­ren­der our his­toric re­spon­si­bil­i­ties (to­wards the bloc) and we will be loyal to it un­til we over­come these de­vel­op­ments,” he un­der­lined, stress­ing that the re­lated par­ties them­selves can only re­solve this cri­sis.

Mean­while, Qatar and the United States signed a deal yes­ter­day on com­bat­ting “ter­ror­ism” as vis­it­ing US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son pur­sued ef­forts to re­solve the Gulf diplo­matic cri­sis. In Qatar as part of a se­ries of Gulf meet­ings, Tiller­son also said Doha had been “rea­son­able” in the dis­pute, which has seen Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with the emi­rate over ac­cu­sa­tions it sup­ports ex­trem­ism.

Tiller­son is spend­ing much of this week in the Gulf seek­ing to me­di­ate in the rift among cru­cial US al­lies, and will meet for­eign min­is­ters of the four coun­tries iso­lat­ing Qatar in the Saudi city of Jed­dah to­day. Af­ter talks with se­nior of­fi­cials in Doha ye­ter­day, Tiller­son and Qatari For­eign Min­is­ter Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Ab­dul­rah­man Al-Thani an­nounced the deal tar­get­ing ex­trem­ist fi­nanc­ing. “The mem­o­ran­dum lays out a se­ries of steps the two coun­tries will take over the com­ing months and years to in­ter­rupt and dis­able ter­ror fi­nanc­ing flows and in­ten­sify counter-ter­ror­ism ac­tiv­i­ties glob­ally, ”Tiller­son said at a joint press con­fer­ence.

He said the deal meant Qatar was “the first to re­spond” to US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s call at a sum­mit in Riyadh ear­lier this year “to stop the fund­ing of ter­ror­ism” - sug­gest­ing that such deals could be signed with the other Arab states as a step to­wards end­ing the cri­sis. Re­fer­ring to its ri­vals, Sheikh Mo­hammed urged “the siege coun­tries to join us in the fu­ture” by sign­ing on to such deals.

While the State De­part­ment has warned the cri­sis could last months, Tiller­son yes­ter­day struck a mod­er­ately op­ti­mistic note. “I’m hope­ful we can make some progress to bring this to a point of res­o­lu­tion,” he said af­ter meet­ing Qatar’s emir. “I think Qatar has been quite clear in its po­si­tions and I think very rea­son­able and we want to talk now... (about) how do we take things for­ward.” Tiller­son flew back to Kuwait - the main me­di­a­tor in the cri­sis and where he is based this week - af­ter the talks in Qatar.

Egypt an­nounced the meet­ing with Tiller­son in Jed­dah to­day, say­ing it “re­flects the four coun­tries’ de­sire to en­hance co­or­di­na­tion and un­der­score their unity on ways to deal with Qatar in the fu­ture.” The diplo­matic cri­sis is the worst to hit the re­gion since the es­tab­lish­ment of the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil in 1981. The four coun­tries on June 5 an­nounced sanc­tions, ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately, against Qatar over ac­cu­sa­tions Doha sup­ported Is­lamist ex­trem­ism and was too close to Iran. They 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 and has con­sis­tently de­nied ac­cu­sa­tions of ties to Is­lamist groups. Tiller­son’s ar­rival in Doha was over­shad­owed by the pub­li­ca­tion of pre-ex­ist­ing con­fi­den­tial agree­ments be­tween Qatar and other GCC states in which all sides had pledged to com­bat ex­trem­ist fund­ing and avoid in­ter­fer­ence in other states. Pub­li­ca­tion of the ac­cords, dated 2013 and 2014, caused both sides in the dis­pute to launch a fresh round of mu­tual ac­cu­sa­tions.

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. That agree­ment specif­i­cally ruled out sup­port for the Mus­lim Brother­hood and other un­named groups that could threaten the bloc’s mem­bers. Qatar sees the Brother­hood as a le­git­i­mate po­lit­i­cal force and has for years hosted its spir­i­tual guide, Sheikh Youssef AlQaradawi. That puts it squarely at odds with Saudi Ara­bia, the UAE and Egypt, which see the Brother­hood as a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion.

A joint state­ment re­leased by the Saudi-led bloc said the doc­u­ments proved “be­yond any doubt Qatar’s fail­ure to meet its com­mit­ments and its full vi­o­la­tion of its pledges”. Their 13-point list of de­mands in June was tied to those ear­lier deals and was “fully in line with the spirit of what was agreed upon,” they said. The head of Qatar’s govern­ment com­mu­ni­ca­tion of­fice, Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed AlThani, dis­puted that, say­ing the June de­mands “bore no re­la­tion to the Riyadh agree­ments”, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment car­ried by the of­fi­cial Qatar News Agency. He called the “siege” by the four states a vi­o­la­tion of the GCC char­ter and agree­ments. — Agen­cies


DOHA: US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son (left) meets Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad Al-Thani at the Sea Palace res­i­dence yes­ter­day.

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