Breakthrough in GCC-Qatar row

Updated 02 September 2014
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Breakthrough in GCC-Qatar row

Saudi Arabia and other GCC states have reached a breakthrough toward ending their dispute with Qatar, having agreed on principles to overcome differences, leaders of the six-member group have said.  
Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah, who presided over a key GCC meeting in Jeddah on Saturday, gave the good news, but insisted that Doha implement the Riyadh Agreement to reach a final settlement.
This developed after Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal led a delegation in a diplomatic blitz to Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE prior to the GCC meeting in Jeddah. All four kingdoms are members of the GCC, together with Kuwait and Oman.
“We have agreed on principles and criteria to overcome obstacles as soon as possible,” said Sheikh Sabah, the current president of the GCC Ministerial Council.
The Kuwaiti foreign minister did not give a time frame for a final agreement and said: “Do not be surprised if the ambassadors return at any time.”
Omani Foreign Minister Youssef bin Alawi Abdullah was optimistic following the Jeddah meeting as he told Agence France Press (AFP) that differences with Qatar had been resolved and that the ambassadors would return.
The minister, however, did not specify a date for their return.
Saudi analyst Badr Almotawa commended Saudi Arabia’s efforts to narrow differences among the GCC member states and strengthen their unity.
Speaking with Arab News, he referred to the visit of a GCC delegation led by Prince Saud to Doha, Manama and Abu Dhabi.
“It was a high-level move on the part of Saudi Arabia and the delegation included Intelligence Chief Prince Khaled bin Bandar and Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif,” Almotawa said, adding that Qatar has praised the Saudi initiative for reconciliation.
He also pointed out that Deputy Crown Prince Muqrin and National Guard Minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah had also visited member states to resolve the issue amicably.
“The Qatari emir’s vision and pragmatic approach will contribute to strengthening GCC unity,” he added.
According to Kuwaiti diplomatic sources, one point of contention was Qatar’s refusal to endorse the report drafted by the committee supervising Doha’s compliance with the Riyadh Agreement.
They also said that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE demanded that Qatar expand its efforts to comply with the agreement, while Qatari officials demanded more time to implement all of its articles.


Macron and Merkel warn of ‘humanitarian risks’ in Idlib

Russian military support has helped Syrian regime troops to regain control of key cities such as Aleppo. (File/AFP)
Updated 19 August 2018
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Macron and Merkel warn of ‘humanitarian risks’ in Idlib

  • US-backed forces had repelled a raid by Daesh targeting barracks housing American and French troops in eastern Syria
  • Daesh overran large swaths of Syria and Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in territory it controlled

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced concern Friday about the humanitarian situation in the opposition-held Syrian region of Idlib, which is shaping up be the country’s next big battleground.
In a telephone call the two leaders described the “humanitarian risks” in Idlib, where regime forces have stepped up their bombardments of opposition positions in recent days, as “very high,” according to the French presidency.
They also called for an “inclusive political process to allow lasting peace in the region.”
President Bashar Assad has set his sights on retaking control of the northwestern province of Idlib — the biggest area still in opposition hands after seven years of war.
Last week, regime helicopters dropped leaflets over towns in Idlib’s east, urging people to surrender.
Idlib, which sits between Syria’s Mediterranean coast and the second city Aleppo, has been a landing point for thousands of civilians and rebel fighters and their families as part of deals struck with the regime following successive regime victories.
The UN has called for talks to avert “a civilian bloodbath” in the northern province, which borders Turkey.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said US-backed forces had repelled a raid by Daesh targeting barracks housing American and French troops in eastern Syria.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the US-led coalition supporting them were on high alert after the raid late on Friday at the Omar oil field in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, the Britain-based war monitor said.
“The attack targeted the oil field’s housing, where US-led coalition forces and leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces are present,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Seven terrorists were killed in the attack, which ended at dawn after clashes near the barracks, he added.
Contacted by AFP, neither the US-led coalition nor the Kurdish-led SDF were immediately available for comment.
In October last year, the SDF took control of the Omar oil field, one of the largest in Syria, which according to The Syria Report economic weekly had a pre-war output of 30,000 barrels per day. “It’s the largest attack of its kind since the oil field was turned into a coalition base” following its capture by the SDF, Abdel Rahman said.
Daesh overran large swaths of Syria and Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in territory it controlled.
But the terrorist group has since lost nearly all of it to multiple offensives in both countries.
In Syria, two separate campaigns — by the US-backed SDF and by the Russia-supported regime — have reduced Daesh’s presence to pockets in Deir Ezzor and in the vast desert that lies between it and the capital.