Have you missed the most important political stories of this week on the GCC crisis? Scroll all the way down to get the updates on the latest developments in the ongoing Gulf crisis.
And here's what happened the week before last: GCC Crisis Updates Week 163. (there was no GCC Crisis last week).
The Al-Watan newspaper affirmed in its editorial today that Qatar's policies towards all countries are based on respecting the sovereignty of states and not interfering in their affairs, expressing its rejection of the ruling issued by the Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court to uphold the previous ruling of life imprisonment against the Omani citizen Abdullah Al Shamsi in the alleged case of intelligence with Qatar, as the case is based on accusations that are based on reasons that have nothing to do with the law, as reported by QNA.
What has been issued by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is inconsistent with Qatar's policies towards all the world's countries, regardless of the nature of its relations with any country, the paper said, adding that Qatar firmly believes that these relations must be based on respect for the sovereignty of states and not interfere in their affairs.
The ruling issued by the Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court not only lacks justice in its proper sense, but rather confirms the fact that it was established and was based on foundations completely contrary to the law, and reveals the unacceptable behaviour of the Emirati authorities, which affects the rights of the gulf citizen and violates the commitment to the rules and principles of respecting relations between countries, the paper added.
The paper affirmed that since the beginning of the fabricated Gulf Crisis, which aimed to go beyond the blockade, as revealed by Foreign Policy magazine, Qatar has consistently called for separating the politics from the society, and has been keen to spare gulf citizens the evils of this blockade and its consequences.
Al-Watan concluded its editorial by saying that although Qatar, as well as its citizens and their rights have been the abused party, they were not dragged into an offence against nations, adding that in terms of receiving medical treatment, continuing education or proceeding with interests and investments, Qatar has dealt with every citizen of the blockading countries in accordance with brotherhood rules, which had never been close to bargaining or blackmailing, as happened with the citizens of Qatar, who were subjected to the worst kinds of practices in the blockading countries, and as happening to the Omani citizen Abdullah Al Shamsi in the alleged case of intelligence with Qatar.
According to the Al Sharq Newspaper, Dr. Mutlaq bin Majid Al-Qahtani, Special Envoy of the Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs for Combating Terrorism and Mediation in Settlement of Disputes, said;
"The Gulf Cooperation Council's agreed positions are usually issued by the meeting of foreign ministers of member states, and not through statements of the Secretary-General, which represent the opinion of the General Secretariat only."
Al-Qahtani's response came after the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council said in a statement issued last Sunday that Iran's continued interference in the affairs of neighbouring countries makes the extension of the international arms embargo on Iran necessary.
Al-Qahtani added, in statements to Al-Jazeera, commenting on the General Secretariat of the Cooperation Council issuing a statement calling for the extension of the international arms embargo on Iran:
“We in Qatar do not see that the current sanctions on Iran lead to positive results and do not contribute to solving crises, and the resolution of crises must be through dialogue."
He added that Iran is a neighbouring country with which we have good neighbourly relations and has a position that we value in the Qatar, the government and the people, especially during the unjust blockade on Qatar.
"At a time when the blockading countries chose unilateral measures, the State of Qatar chose dialogue, and this is our policy always. We look forward to good relations with everyone and everyone." Continuing the policy of obstinacy and denial will only lead to instability. "
Al-Qahtani said that Qatar calls for dialogue based on respect for international law, respect for the sovereignty of states and non-interference in their internal affairs, and that Qatar is committed to the principle of arms control and making the Middle East a region free of weapons of mass destruction, taking into account the right of states to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
After the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which last month, ruled the competence of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to consider Qatar's complaint regarding the closure of these countries' airspace to Qatari aviation, the blockading countries resorted to a new trick to evade and try to evade its international obligations and international laws, according to a Bloomberg report by Simon Foxman and Layan Odeh.
The blockading countries wrote to the ICAO last week that “emergency conditions” justify a three-year diplomatic impasse with Qatar that has closed airspace to prevent its planes from flying over some neighbouring territories (blockading countries airspace). They wrote that the announcements made in 2017 allowed them to bar Qatar-registered aircraft from their skies under a provision designed for states of war or national emergency. They cut ties with the tiny Gulf natural-gas producer because of its alleged support for terrorism and friendliness with Iran.
This letter written by the foreign ministers of the blockading countries to the ICAO claimed that the declarations issued in 2017 (regarding the imposition of the blockade on Qatar) allows them to prevent aircraft registered in Qatar from crossing their airspace under the clause "of war or national emergency".
The letter marks the latest instalment of a lengthy legal battle that’s seen Qatar plead its case in front of UN agencies and other intergovernmental organisations. The block on using certain countries’ airspace complicates travel in and out of Doha, the capital, with many Qatar-registered aircraft forced to fly over Iran.
In his response to ICAO, H.E. Minister of Transportation and Communications Jassim bin Saif Al-Sulaiti said, that the blockading countries did not officially declare a state of emergency in 2017, stressing that their claim of Qatar's support for terrorism as "defamatory", "tired"and “libelous.”
These letters to ICAO by the blockading countries come after the ICJ, last month, decided to reject the two appeals filed by each of the blockading countries regarding the competence of the ICAO to consider the Qatari complaint to prevent its flights from crossing the airspace of these countries. The ICJ passed the issue back to the ICAO.
Airspace has been a key flash-point in the three-year-old rift. The issue was the focus of a recent push by the U.S. to resolve the impasse, in part because it complicates American foreign policy toward Iran.
The agency said that the issue of lifting the air embargo on Qatar was the focus of the United States' recent efforts to find a solution.
Qatar has affirmed that the ruling issued by the UAE Federal Court of Appeal to uphold the previous sentence of life imprisonment against the Omani citizen Abdullah Al Shamsi in the alleged case of intelligence with the State of Qatar contradicts justice and facts.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that these accusations are unfounded, have no basis in reality or law, and contradict the policy of the State of Qatar towards all countries, adding that the State of Qatar rejects and strongly condemns this false accusation.
The statement considered that this ruling lacks justice in its proper sense and is based on reasons that have nothing to do with the law, but rather for well-known reasons. It also reveals the unacceptable behaviour of the Emirati authorities that affects the rights of the Gulf citizen and violates the commitment to the rules and principles of respect for relations between countries.
The Director of the Media Office at the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Rumaihi, termed the details in a Foreign Policy magazine report about a Saudi Arabian proposal to invade Qatar as “shocking”, as reported by the Qatar Tribune
“It is shocking (that it came) from a member state of the Gulf Cooperation Council.”
On his Twitter page, Rumaihi tweeted:
"It is regrettable that the military option is on the table for countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council towards a member state in this system that was originally built on collective security.
“We emphasised from the beginning that the accusations that the blockading countries tried to impose on us are nothing but to create justifications for achieving other larger goals that risk the future of the region and its peoples.
“The military option revealed by the American magazine reinforces what His Highness the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, said in a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump, at the White House on September 7, 2017, about the success of Kuwaiti mediation in stopping the military intervention against Qatar.
“The fact that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has not yet denied what was revealed by the American magazine indicates the truth of what happened, which is extremely dangerous to the security and stability of the region," he said stressing that “the military option that was presented to the blockading countries violates international law, and all the covenants accepted by us as countries in the United Nations to resolve disputes by peaceful means, as well as clearly expressing an adventurous and irresponsible policy similar to the one that led the region to instability in the early 1990s.”
The Foreign Policy magazine on August 6, 2020, published a report saying the United States “firmly rejected” the Saudi Arabian proposal in 2017.
The magazine explained that this came during a phone call between them on June 6, 2017, that is, just one day after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed the blockade on Qatar, following a widespread campaign of fabrications.
According to the Qatar Tribune, a Saudi proposal to invade Qatar was firmly rejected by the US almost three years ago, according to a report by Foreign Policy which stated:
"During a call with Saudi King Salman on 6 June 2017, US President Donald Trump firmly rejected a Saudi proposal to invade Qatar.
"Soon after, the United States requested Kuwaiti mediation with the goal of resolving the conflict within the confines of the GCC."
This is the latest in a series of reports that unveil the anti-Qatar quartet's plans to launch a military operation against Qatar after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt announced a blockade against Doha in June 2017.
Several reports that came out in 2017 suggested that the then US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson might have lost his job because of his efforts to stop the anti-Qatar quartet's invasion plans.
In the months that followed Tillerson's departure, press reports strongly suggested that the countries lobbying hardest for his removal were Saudi Arabia and the UAE, both of which were frustrated by Tillerson’s attempts to mediate and end their blockade of Qatar.
One report in the New York Times even suggested that the UAE ambassador to Washington knew that Tillerson would be forced out three months before he was fired in March.
The following statement is attributable to the Qatar Embassy in Washington - USA, and is a reply to FoxNews.com's opinion piece:
"FoxNews.com has published a poorly sourced article with numerous false allegations against Qatar, written by two individuals with an established anti-Qatar agenda.
Benjamin Weinthal of “Foundation for Defense of Democracies” (FDD) has previously made distorted claims against Qatar. His aim is to undermine Qatar’s hosting of the American military at Al Udeid Air Base and have it relocated elsewhere in the region. This is not surprising since it was revealed by the Associated Press that FDD worked at the direction of the United Arab Emirates to publish slanderous articles and organise anti-Qatar events.
His “research” is undermined by Qatar’s work for decades at the forefront of the fight against extremism and terror financing. Qatar was the first country in the region to sign a comprehensive MOU with the United States to combat terror financing. Currently, Qatar has some of the strictest domestic laws to prosecute those associated with terror financing.
Qatar has invested significantly in Al Udeid Air Base, making it one of the most advanced military bases in the world and an invaluable hub in the global fight against terrorism and extremism.
As Spyer and Weinthal are forced to acknowledge in the last paragraph of their piece, the US State Department made clear the importance of Qatar’s efforts as “one of the United States’ closest military allies in the region” and emphasised that “US-Qatar military and security cooperation is making the region safer and more stable”.
This concluding declaration undermines the hyperbole contained throughout the article.
The authors go to great lengths to spread disinformation, including a six-year-old quote in the article from a German Minister regarding allegations against Qatar, for which the German government publicly apologised and admitted there was no evidence to corroborate the claims.
It is disturbing that the authors and FoxNews.com are using the tragedy in Lebanon to advance false narratives. The focus should be on supporting the Lebanese people. To that end, Qatar is already working to assist those impacted, by sending planeloads of urgent medical aid, field hospitals, along with search and rescue teams to Beirut.
It is time to ignore biased organisations with narrow self-interest working to tarnish reputations by spreading disinformation and falsehoods. It is beneath the standards of FoxNews.com to give a platform to such actors."
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