Wednesday, June 7, 2017
The Latest: Hamas ‘shocked’ by Saudi comments on Qatar
The Washington Post
By Associated Press June 7 at 1:00 AM
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The Latest on the Gulf crisis after Saudi Arabia and other nations cut ties to Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism (all times local):
Gaza’s ruling Hamas says it is shocked by Saudi Arabia’s call on Qatar to stop supporting the Islamic militant group.
Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, have cut ties with Qatar and moved to isolate the Gulf nation, accusing it of harboring extremists. Qatar has denied the allegations.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in Paris on Tuesday that Qatar must sever ties with Hamas and its historic parent, the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood.
Hamas said in a statement early Wednesday that al-Jubeir’s remarks “constitute a shock for our Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nations.”
Hamas alleged that Israel “exploits these statements to carry out more violations against the Palestinian people.”
Qatar has hosted Hamas leaders and has financed major projects in Gaza.
Turkey’s president is voicing support for Qatar in its dispute with Saudi Arabia and other nations, saying no one will benefit from the policy of isolating the oil-rich nation.
Addressing foreign ambassadors at a Ramadan dinner Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan commended Qatar for what he called a “cool-headed and constructive” stance in the dispute and said Qatar is leading an “effective fight” against terrorist groups.
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen have moved to isolate Qatar, accusing it of harboring extremists and backing Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, Iran. Qatar has denied the allegations.
Erdogan criticized the Saudis and others for their allegations against Qatar, saying he would be the first to oppose the country if that were the case.
He called for resolving the split through dialogue and said Turkey will continue working to end the dispute.
Erdogan also said that Turks “will continue and develop our ties with Qatar.”
Jordan has announced it is scaling back its diplomatic ties with Qatar and that it will close the local office of the Gulf nation’s Al-Jazeera TV channel.
Tuesday’s decision came a day after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar. The four nations alleged that Qatar harbors extremists and backs Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, Iran. Qatar has denied the allegations.
Saudi Arabia is a key financial backer of Jordan.
Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed Momani said in a statement that the decision was made to ensure regional stability, coordinate the policies of Arab countries and “end the crises in our region.”
The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken by phone with the ruler of Qatar, urging dialogue amid a split between the Gulf state and other Arab countries.
According to the Kremlin, in Tuesday’s phone call with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani, Putin reaffirmed Russia’s “position in favor of settling crisis situations by political and diplomatic means, through dialogue.”
The terse statement said the two leaders also discussed bilateral cooperation and highly assessed the results of a meeting of an inter-government commission in April.
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen cut diplomatic ties with the tiny Gulf state, accusing Qatar of harboring extremists and backing Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, Iran. Qatar has denied the allegations.
The Arab League’s Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, says he regrets the split between Arab countries, after some Gulf states and Egypt severed ties with Qatar over accusations of supporting terrorism.
Aboul Gheit said in a Monday statement that he is following closely the developments of the crisis and hopes for Arab nations to overcome their differences in the near future “to safeguard Arab national security from the threats it faces.”
The move against the tiny Gulf state was taken by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen, who say that Qatar harbors extremists and backs Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, Iran. Qatar has denied the allegations.
Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s foremost Islamic institution, has commended the joint move of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to isolate their Arab neighbor, Qatar, over accusations of supporting terror and backing Iran.
In a Tuesday statement, Al-Azhar says it backs the move. It also calls for Arab nations to double their efforts against what it described as “malicious attempts” by some regimes that pose a threat to regional security.
Al-Azhar’s statement comes one day after the four Arab countries severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and cut their air, sea and land links to the tiny but resource-rich country.
Kuwait’s ruling emir has left his country to head to Saudi Arabia as he tries to mediate an end to the diplomatic standoff over Qatar.
Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah flew out of Kuwait City on Tuesday afternoon, heading for Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.
Sheikh Sabah’s court described the trip as a “brotherly visit.” However, a lot is at stake.
Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Monday cut diplomatic ties to Qatar and are now attempting to isolate it. They allege Qatar funds terror groups, something Qatar denies. They also say Qatar worries more about maintaining good ties with Iran than with its Sunni Arab neighbors.
Qatar already has said it wants Kuwait to mediate the rift. An Omani diplomat also has been in Qatar.
An international aid group that helps displaced Palestinians worries the Qatar crisis could negatively affect support for the Gaza Strip.
Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council said Tuesday that Qatar “has been very important as an investor in Gaza” and as a “contributor to infrastructure projects there.”
He added this might now “not easily continue.”
Qatar is among the biggest contributors of aid to the territory ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas.
Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas violently seized the territory a decade ago from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The militant group had previously defeated Abbas’ faction in parliamentary elections.
Hamas fought three wars with Israel since then, which has taken a toll on Gaza’s infrastructure.
Several Arab states cut ties Monday with Qatar which they accuse of supporting terrorism — charges that Qatar denies.
President Donald Trump says that Middle Eastern leaders complained about the Gulf state of Qatar when he demanded an end to support for radical ideology that encourages terrorism.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump did not take a position on the decision by Saudi Arabia and three other Arab nations to sever diplomatic relations with Qatar but appeared to suggest it was understandable.
“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!,” Trump tweeted.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia along with Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates cut ties with Qatar over its alleged support for extremists. All of the countries are friendly with the U.S., putting Trump in a potentially awkward position.
Trump met with Qatar’s emir during the president’s visit to Saudi Arabia last month.
“We are friends, we’ve been friends now for a long time, haven’t we?” Trump asked at the meeting. “Our relationship is extremely good.”
Egyptian officials say the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors has yet to affect the 300,000 Egyptian workers in the tiny, energy-rich country, amid fears they could be expelled or stranded.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates severed diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday and have moved to cut off all air, land and sea routes to the country, which they accuse of supporting terrorism, charges Qatar denies.
Egyptian Charge d’Affaires Ihab Abdel-Hamid told The Associated Press he is returning to Egypt on Wednesday after being recalled. EgyptAir, the national carrier, has suspended all flights from and to Qatar.
Abdel-Hamid said “I myself have to find a third country, a transit point tomorrow.” Many people are flying back through Kuwait, which has stepped in to mediate the dispute.
Mohammed el-Iraqi, the spokesman for the Egyptian community in Qatar, has told Egyptian media that Egyptians in Qatar panicked when the crisis erupted but that so far it has had no impact on their businesses.
Saudi Arabia is revoking Qatar Airways’ operating licenses as part of a package of punitive measures against the Gulf country.
In a statement carried on the state-run Saudi Press Agency Tuesday, the aviation authority says it will close the airline’s offices in the kingdom within 48 hours.
Meanwhile, the Saudi ports authority says Qatari-flagged shipping vessels are barred from docking. It’s ordering shipping agents not to receive any vessels owned by Qatari companies or Qatari nationals and not to unload any goods from Qatar.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday and shut down land, sea and air links, accusing it of supporting terror groups in the region. Qatar denies the allegations.
The Philippines will temporarily suspend the deployment of Filipino workers to Qatar, fearing food riots and other potential problems amid the diplomatic crisis gripping the energy-rich Gulf nation.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello says the ban took effect Tuesday but there is no plan yet to repatriate the more than 200,000 Filipino workers in Qatar.
Saudi Arabia and other Arab powers severed diplomatic ties Monday with Qatar and moved to isolate the nation, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups and backing Iran.
Saudi Arabia closed its land border with Qatar, through which the tiny Gulf nation and international travel hub imports most of its food, sparking a run on supermarkets.
Turkey’s prime minister says his country will press ahead with efforts to try and end a standoff between Qatar and its Arab neighbors through dialogue.
In a speech to his ruling party’s legislators Tuesday, Binali Yildirim also said that the nations should not allow “unfounded news reports” to tarnish relations.
It was a reference to Qatar saying that its state-run news agency and its Twitter account were hacked to publish a fake story claiming the emir, Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani, had called Iran a “regional and Islamic power that cannot be ignored.” State-linked media in the region ignored Qatar’s denial and continued to report the comments.
Yildirim said: “We will continue our active stance in order to develop a friendly dialogue that would suit the holy month of Ramadan.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office has said he held a series of telephone calls on Monday in a bid to ease tensions.
Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations cut ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of supporting regional terrorist groups, charges denied by Doha.
A Qatari sports network has been blocked in the United Arab Emirates over a major diplomatic dispute.
Channels of the beIN Media Group appeared blocked on Tuesday, a day after the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting regional terror groups, charges denied by Doha.
Authorities and telecommunications companies did not provide further details. The channels of Doha-based satellite network Al-Jazeera have also been blocked.
The network acquired Al Jazeera’s sports channels in 2013. It broadcasts in North America, Europe and Asia, as well as the Middle East and North Africa.
Qatar’s foreign minister says Kuwait is trying to mediate and solve a diplomatic crisis that has seen Arab nations cut off diplomatic ties.
The minister said early Tuesday that Kuwait’s ruler had asked Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to hold off on giving a speech about the crisis.
Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani also told Doha-based satellite news network Al-Jazeera that his nation rejected those “trying to impose their will on Qatar or intervene in its internal affairs.”
Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday and ordered their land, sea and airports closed to Qatari aircraft and vessels. It’s the worst diplomatic crisis to strike the region since the 1991 Gulf War.
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