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. (QNA)
According to the Al Sharq Newspaper, Dr. Mutlaq bin Majid Al-Qahtani, Special Envoy of the Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs for Combatting 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 Sharq Newspaper)
Al-Qahtani's response came after the General Secretariat of the GCC said in a statement last Sunday that Iran's continued interference in the affairs of its neighbouring countries makes it necessary to extend the international arms embargo on Iran.
Al-Qahtani also commented on the General Secretariat of the Cooperation Council's issuing of a statement that called for extending the Iran arms embargo:
“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." (Al Sharq Newspaper)
Al-Qahtani mentioned that Iran was its neighbouring country and it has good relations with it. Iran also helped Qatar when the blockade was implemented on Qatar, so the people of Qatar, and the government respect that.
"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 Sharq Newspaper)
According to Al-Qahtani, Qatar wants a dialogue that focuses on respect for the international law, sovereignty of states and the non-interference in their country's matters. Qatar is committed to arms control and making the Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction while also taking into account the right of the states to use nuclear weapons for peaceful purposes.
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 “libellous.”
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 Qatar goes against justice and facts, according to the Gulf Times.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that these accusations were unfounded, had no basis in reality or law, and contradicted Qatar's policy towards all countries, adding that it firmly rejects and strongly condemns the false accusation made.
The statement also considered that this ruling lacked justice and was based on reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with the law. According to the statement, the unacceptable behaviour of the Emirati authorities has been revealed and been found to affect the rights of Gulf citizens and violates the commitment to respect for relations between countries.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Director of the Media Office Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Rumaihi, termed details that appeared in a Foreign Policy magazine report about a Saudi Arabian proposal to invade Qatar as “shocking”, reported by the Qatar Tribune.
Ahmed Al Rumaihi stated:
“It is shocking (that it came) from a member state of the Gulf Cooperation Council.” (Qatar Tribune)
"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.”
As reported by the Qatar Tribune, the Foreign Policy magazine on August 6, 2020, published a report that mentioned that the US “firmly rejected” the Saudi Arabian proposal to launch a military offensive against Qatar in 2017. Based on the report, the proposal was rejected during a phone call between the US and Saudi Arabia on 6 June 2017, just a day after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed the blockade on Qatar.
According to the Qatar Tribune, a Saudi proposal to invade Qatar was firmly rejected by the US almost three years ago. This is the latest news in a series of reports that reveal plans by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to launch a military offensive against Qatar after the blockade was announced. A number of different reports that came out during 2017 suggested that Rex Tillerson who was the US Secretary of State at that time might have lost his position because he made efforts to stop the military operation plans.
After Tillerson lost his job, there are some press reports that suggested that the countries that were lobbying for him to be removed as the US Secretary of State were Saudi Arabia and the UAE, both of who were not happy that Tillerson was trying to mediate and end the blockade of Qatar.
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.
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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