Qatari leader ap­pre­ci­ates Amir’s me­di­a­tion ef­forts

Doha ready for talks UAE wel­comes anti-ter­ror move, BeIN back on air

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

DOHA: Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad Al-Thani highly com­mended on Fri­day HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s me­di­a­tion ef­forts to re­solve the Gulf cri­sis. In a tele­vised ad­dress, the Qatari emir said his coun­try had sup­ported Kuwait’s me­di­a­tion ef­forts from the very be­gin­ning, hop­ing that such ef­forts would bear fruit.

“We are open to di­a­logue to re­solve the out­stand­ing prob­lems,” so long as Qatar’s “sovereignty is re­spected,” Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad Al-Thani said in his first pub­lic com­ments since Saudi Ara­bia and its al­lies sev­ered ties with the gas-rich emi­rate. “Any set­tle­ment of the cri­sis must be based on two prin­ci­ples,” he said. Sheikh Tamim in­sisted that any deal “must not take ef­fect in the form of dik­tats but rather through mu­tual com­mit­ments un­der­taken by all the par­ties. We are open to di­a­logue to find so­lu­tions to lin­ger­ing prob­lems within the frame­work of re­spect for the sovereignty and will of each state as mu­tual un­der­tak­ings and joint com­mit­ments bind­ing all,” he said.

On June 5, Saudi Ara­bia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emi­rates and Egypt cut ties with Qatar ac­cus­ing it of back­ing ex­trem­ism and fos­ter­ing ties with their ri­val Iran. Doha de­nies the claim. In his speech, the emir said Qatar was “fight­ing ter­ror­ism re­lent­lessly and with­out com­pro­mises, and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity rec­og­nizes this”.

Sheikh Tamim hailed the sol­i­dar­ity and re­solve that Qataris have shown in the face of the cri­sis, and said it would make the tiny coun­try, which will host foot­ball’s World Cup in 2022, even more re­silient. “We are open to di­a­logue to iron out all the pend­ing is­sues, not only for the ben­e­fit of our peo­ples and gov­ern­ments, but also to spare our re­gion the point­less ef­forts to dis­si­pate our gains,” he said.

Sheikh Tamim vowed to with­stand the sanc­tions and said he had in­structed the Qatari gov­ern­ment that Qataris should be­come more self-re­liant and called for the econ­omy to be opened up to for­eign in­vest­ments. “The time has come for us to spare the peo­ple from the po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences be­tween the gov­ern­ments,” he said, urg­ing di­a­logue.

The cri­sis be­tween the re­gional al­lies is the worst to hit the Gulf in decades. OPEC king­pin Saudi Ara­bia and its al­lies also im­posed sanc­tions on Doha, in­clud­ing clos­ing its only land bor­der, re­fus­ing Qatar ac­cess to their airspace and or­der­ing their cit­i­zens back from Qatar. And on June 22, they went on to present the emi­rate with a list of 13 de­mands with which to com­ply to re­solve the cri­sis. Kuwait has been try­ing to me­di­ate the cri­sis and sev­eral top Western diplo­mats have toured the re­gion to try to defuse the row, in­clud­ing US Secretary of States Rex Tiller­son.

In a sign of progress, an Emi­rati state min­is­ter on Fri­day wel­comed changes to Qatar’s anti-ter­ror leg­is­la­tion as a “pos­i­tive” step. Qatar an­nounced a emiri de­cree on Thurs­day es­tab­lish­ing two nom­i­nal lists of in­di­vid­u­als and ter­ror­ist en­ti­ties, and the re­quire­ments for be­ing in­cluded in them. It also de­fined ter­ror­ists, ter­ror­ist crimes, ter­ror­ist en­ti­ties as well as the fi­nanc­ing of ter­ror­ism. The de­cree fol­lows the sign­ing on July 11 of a US-Qatar agree­ment to com­bat ter­ror fund­ing dur­ing a visit to Doha by Tiller­son.

How­ever, the four Arab coun­tries at odds with Doha dis­missed that deal as “in­suf­fi­cient”. On Fri­day, the UAE state min­is­ter for for­eign af­fairs wel­comed the lat­est Qatari move. “It is a pos­i­tive step to deal se­ri­ously with the list of 59 ter­ror­ists,” An­war Gar­gash tweeted. “The pres­sure linked to the cri­sis has be­gun to bear fruit.” But Gar­gash, re­peated his de­mands for Qatar to re­ori­ent its poli­cies in or­der to ease the cri­sis with its Arab neigh­bors. “It would be wiser (for Qatar) to to­tally change its (po­lit­i­cal) ori­en­ta­tion,” he said. The changes Qatar an­nounced to its anti-ter­ror leg­is­la­tion amend an ear­lier law pub­lished in 2004 but Thurs­day’s de­cree did not pro­vide de­tails of the ex­act na­ture of the re­vi­sions.

Qatari of­fi­cials on Thurs­day linked the UAE to a cy­ber­at­tack in May that sparked the cri­sis, say­ing it was co­or­di­nated with one of the mem­bers of the anti-Qatar quar­tet and that the UAE ben­e­fited the most from it. The at­tack in­volved what Qatar says were fab­ri­cated com­ments at­trib­uted to the emir posted on the of­fi­cial state news agency and af­fil­i­ated so­cial me­dia ac­counts in which he sup­pos­edly called Iran an “Is­lamic power” and said Qatar’s re­la­tions with Is­rael are “good.” Qatar swiftly dis­avowed the com­ments but state-owned and semi-of­fi­cial me­dia in Saudi Ara­bia, the UAE and Bahrain con­tin­ued to re­port the re­marks for days.

“The smear cam­paign and the un­law­ful mea­sures that fol­lowed were pre­planned and pre­designed,” Qatar’s emir said in his speech Fri­day. “The per­pe­tra­tors have un­der­mined our sovereignty and in­de­pen­dence by fab­ri­cat­ing false state­ments to mis­lead in­ter­na­tional pub­lic opin­ion.” The UAE de­nies play­ing any role in the hack­ing.

An of­fi­cial com­ment from the four Arab coun­tries on the emir’s speech had yet to be is­sued, but a Saudi royal court ad­vi­sor de­scribed it as a piece of lit­er­ary work writ­ten by a school stu­dent. “Had it been writ­ten by a stu­dent in mid­dle school he would have flunked,” Saud Al-Qah­tani wrote on his Twit­ter ac­count. Com­men­ta­tors hosted by the Saudi-owned al-Ara­biya television also de­nounced the speech. “This is a speech of ob­sti­nacy which sends mes­sages that Qatar will not stop sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism,” said Ali Al-Naimi, ed­i­tor of an on­line news web­site pub­lished in the UAE.

Mean­while, Qatar’s BeIN sports net­work was broad­cast­ing again yes­ter­day in the UAE, ac­cord­ing to sub­scribers to its chan­nels which have been blocked since the start of the Gulf cri­sis. “We are again re­ceiv­ing the net­work of BeIN sports chan­nels, dis­trib­uted by Du,” one of two telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies in the Emi­rates, one cus­tomer told AFP. Eti­salat, a UAE-based telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions gi­ant, had also re­in­stated BeIN sports, ac­cord­ing to sev­eral sub­scribers to its chan­nels.

Cus­tomers were in­formed of the move in an email from Eti­salat. “We would like to ad­vise that start­ing 22 July 2017 the BeIN pack­age will be avail­able to cus­tomers and nor­mal charges will ap­ply,” the mes­sage said. “The pro­vi­sion of the BeIN pack­age will be sub­ject to an on­go­ing re­view.” It was un­clear what was be­hind the de­ci­sion to bring BeIN back on air. BeIN, which has the rights to broad­cast hugely pop­u­lar Euro­pean foot­ball leagues, is a sub­sidiary of the Qatari satel­lite net­work Al-Jazeera. The sports net­work went off­line in the UAE last month. — Agen­cies

— AP

DOHA: Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad Al-Thani speaks late Fri­day in his first tele­vised speech since the dis­pute be­tween Qatar and three Gulf coun­tries and Egypt.

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