Pro-Iran, pro-terror group's comments attributed to Qatari Emir sparks GCC outrage

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
Updated 24 May 2017
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Pro-Iran, pro-terror group's comments attributed to Qatari Emir sparks GCC outrage

JEDDAH: An outpour of criticism was unleashed via social and traditional media outlets in the Gulf after the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) carried comments attributed to the nation's Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, said to have been made at a graduation ceremony of the national service (military conscription) where he has endorsed Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.
He also reportedly spoke of "tensions" with the new US administration and predicted the President Donald J. Trump will not last long, citing domestic political problems in Washington over ties with Russia.
Al-Thani also seems to have praised Iran which even the previous US administration under President Obama labeled as the "biggest state sponsor of terror" as an "Islamic power" and a source of stability in the region.
“There is no wisdom in harboring hostility towards Iran,” he said.
Despite the emir allegedly Saying that the relations with Israel are “good,” he went on to describe Hamas — which is designated as a terrorist organization by the US, EU and Israel and is condemned even by Arab countries for firing missiles towards civilians — as the "official representative of Palestinians."
Hamas — either in whole or in part — is regarded as a terrorist organization by several countries and international organizations, most notably by Israel, US and EU.
Despite this endorsement of Hamas, the Emir seems to have still refuted allegations of his country supporting terror, yet Doha is infamous for supporting both Lebanon's Hezbollah and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which is designated a terrorist group by fellow GCC countries.
He reportedly also criticized the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt for waging a campaign against Doha. All three counties are fierce critics of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, he seems to have not mentioned Saudi Arabia by name.
He did seem however to criticize what he described as "exaggerated" recent arms deals and said that countries should be spending that money on development projects, an apparent attack on the recent enormous Saudi-US arms deals signed in Riyadh during President Trump's visit.
The Emir is said to have credited Al-Udeid Air Base, which houses the biggest US Air Force base in the region, with protecting Doha from some neighboring countries, without mentioning any names but some experts believe he may have meant a fellow GCC country.
A few hours after the controversial statements broke on QNA, the government's communication team tried to downplay them saying that the news agency's website was hacked. However, the report was simultaneously posted in different languages and social media platforms, where they remained. The comments also go in line with recent criticism waged against the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in other state-sponsored media outlets such as Al-Jazeera, Al-Arab and the London-based Middle East Eye.


Iran: US sanctions on Khamenei mean end of diplomacy

Updated 34 sec ago
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Iran: US sanctions on Khamenei mean end of diplomacy

  • Trump said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of drone attack
  • Washington has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Tehran since last year

Iran said on Tuesday that a US decision to impose sanctions on the country’s supreme leader and other top officials permanently closed the path to diplomacy between Tehran and Washington.
“Imposing useless sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy (Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif) is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a tweet.
“Trump’s desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security.”

US President Donald Trump earlier signed an executive order that would impose fresh sanctions on Iran, amid increased tensions between the long-time foes.

Trump initially told reporters the sanctions, which will target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his office, were in response to Tehran's downing of a US drone last week. Tehran has said the drone was flying in its airspace, which Washington has denied.

Later, Trump said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone.

The US will also blacklist Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and block "billions" more in Iranian assets as part of expanded sanctions, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday.

Mnuchin told reporters Zarif would be added to an economic sanctions list "later this week," adding that eight top military commanders from Iran's Revolutionary Guards have now also been blacklisted.

The US has also blamed Iran for attacks earlier this month on two oil tankers at the entrance of the Gulf of Oman. Iran, in turn, has denied that it is to blame.

Washington has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Tehran since last year, when the US withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing of sanctions. Trump’s administration has said the deal struck under his predecessor President Barack Obama did not do enough.

Trump has said he would be open to talks with Iranian leaders, but Tehran has rejected such an offer unless Washington drops the sanctions.

The Trump administration wants to force Tehran to open talks on its nuclear and missile programmes and its activities in the region.

The US also accuses Iran of encouraging allies in Yemen to attack Saudi targets. In a joint statement on Monday, the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and UK expressed concern over Middle East tensions and the dangers posed by Iranian "destabilizing activity" to peace and security in Yemen and the region.