Qatar’s emir wants ties with Iran to be ‘stronger than ever before’

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. (AP)
Updated 28 May 2017

Qatar’s emir wants ties with Iran to be ‘stronger than ever before’

JEDDAH: Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani has said his country enjoyed deep and historical ties with Iran.
In a phone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday, Al-Thani said he wanted the ties with Iran to be “stronger than ever before.”
The remarks confirm lingering suspicions that have been swirling in the world media that Qatar was in league with Iran against its fellow Arab and Gulf countries. Iran is seen as the root cause of all the troubles in the Arab world — from Syria to Iraq, to Yemen and Lebanon.
Al-Thani said he will instruct the authorities in his country to exert all efforts to develop relations with Tehran. Rouhani stressed that one of Iran’s foreign policy pillars is continuation of cooperation with Qatar.
In comments that will be seen as ironical, Rouhani said that sectarianism is a major scourge that affects everybody’s security. Iran has vociferously and militarily promoted sectarianism in the Arab world through its armed militias.
Rouhani called for strengthening cooperation between the countries of the region to bring about stability and harmony.
While underlining the importance Iran pays to developing relations with neighboring countries, especially Qatar, the Iranian president expressed confidence in the possibility of doing away with obstacles to such ties through the strong will of all countries, particularly Iran and Qatar.
Iran, said Rouhani, seeks to spread a climate of moderation and logic in the relations among the region’s countries, and gives priority to political solutions.
He added that the countries of the region need more consultation and exchange of ideas to resolve and contain regional challenges, and declared Iran’s readiness to cooperate in this regard.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE expressed exasperation this week after official Qatar media published remarks purported to have been made by Sheikh Tamim, which were critical of Trump’s foreign policy and of renewed tensions with Tehran.
Qatar said the remarks, published late on Tuesday, were fake and that the news agency that ran them had been hacked.


Anti-Assad fighters withdraw from key area of northwest Syria

Updated 20 August 2019

Anti-Assad fighters withdraw from key area of northwest Syria

  • The withdrawal means an important Turkish observation point in the nearby town of Morek is effectively surrounded by government forces
  • After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition to President Bashar

BEIRUT: Jihadists and allied rebels withdrew from a key area of northwestern Syria Tuesday as President Bashar Assad’s forces pressed an offensive against the jihadist-run Idlib region, a war monitor said.
The fighters pulled back from the town of Khan Sheikun and the countryside to its south overnight and in the early hours of Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The withdrawal means an important Turkish observation point in the nearby town of Morek is effectively surrounded by government forces, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
On Monday, a Turkish military convoy crossed the border into the Idlib region, sparking condemnation from Damascus as Ankara alleged air strikes had targeted its troops.
The convoy halted just north of Khan Sheikhun on Monday afternoon and remained there on Tuesday, after government forces took control of a section of the highway into the town.
Pro-government newspaper Al-Watan said Monday morning’s strike targeted a rebel vehicle scouting the road in front of the Turkish convoy.
“The Syrian army in its own way sent a clear message to the Turkish regime by forcing convoys sent by Ankara to help the terrorists in Khan Sheikhun to come to a halt,” it said.
It was a “clear warning against any Turkish attempt to resuscitate the terrorists,” the paper said, adding that the strike had “Russian support.”
After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition to President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Since January, it has been administered by the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance, which is led by jihadists from Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
The region of some three million people was supposed to be protected by a Turkish-Russian buffer zone deal signed last year.
But government and Russian forces have subjected it to heavy bombardment since late April, killing more than 860 civilians, according to an Observatory toll.
The United Nations says the shelling and air strikes have also hit dozens of health facilities and caused more than 400,000 people to flee their homes.
The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people since the rebels first took arms following the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.
Rival interventions by outside powers have turned it into a complex conflict with multiple battle fronts that has driven millions of civilians from their homes.