Emirati diplomat: 'Nothing to negotiate' with Qatar

UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash
Updated 07 June 2017
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Emirati diplomat: 'Nothing to negotiate' with Qatar

DUBAI: A top Emirati diplomat has told The Associated Press that “there’s nothing to negotiate” with Qatar amid a diplomatic crisis now gripping the Gulf.
Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash applauded efforts by the emir of Kuwait to try and mediate an end to the turmoil. However, when asked in a rare interview what Emiratis would be willing to concede, Gargash offered nothing. He also suggested that all options, including using force, remained on the table in confronting Qatar.
The United Arab Emirates joined Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in cutting off diplomatic ties to Qatar on Monday. The countries are now blocking Qatar’s access to their airspace and blocking its ships, isolating the small, energy-rich nation.
Measures taken by the United Arab Emirates and other nations against Qatar are aimed at pressuring Doha into changing its policies, not at overthrowing its regime, Gargash told AFP on Wednesday.
“We have now reached a cul-de-sac in terms of trying to convince Qatar to change course,” UAE’s Gargash said in an interview, accusing Qatar of being “the main champion of extremism and terrorism in the region.”
“This is not about regime change — this is about change of policy, change of approach,” Gargash said.
The Arab states accuse Qatar of supporting extremism, a charge Doha firmly denies.
Gargash said the crisis was the result of “an accumulation over many, many years of subversive Qatari politics and support for extremism and terrorist organizations.”
Qatar has forged regional alliances independently of its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council states, drawing accusation by Saudi Arabia and its allies of serving Iranian interests.
The country is home to a number of high-profile figures of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, both listed as terrorist organizations by the United States.

 

– With input from AP and AFP

 


Syrian army drops barrel bombs in southwest — rights monitor

Updated 3 min 19 sec ago
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Syrian army drops barrel bombs in southwest — rights monitor

  • President Bashar Assad has sworn to recapture the area bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the army began ramping up an assault there this week
  • The Syrian government has denied using barrel bombs, containers filled with explosive material that are dropped from helicopters and which cannot be accurately aimed

BEIRUT: A war monitor reported Syrian military helicopters dropped barrel bombs on rebel-held areas of the southwest on Friday for the first time in a year, escalating an assault that has so far included artillery but only limited use of air power.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said Syrian government helicopters had dropped more than 12 barrel bombs on rebel-held territory northeast of Daraa, causing damage but no deaths.

President Bashar Assad has sworn to recapture the area bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and the army began ramping up an assault there this week.

The attack has been concentrated on the towns of Al-Harak and Busra Al-Harir, which would bisect a finger of rebel ground jutting northwards into land held by the Syrian government.

A big offensive risks a wider escalation, as the United States has warned Damascus it will respond to breaches of a “de-escalation” brokered by Washington and Assad’s Russian allies last year to contain the war in the southwest.

The region is also of strategic concern to Israel, which has struck Iran-backed militia allied to the army.

Those militia, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, have played an important role in Assad’s seven-year war against the rebels, including since Russia entered the conflict in 2015.

The Russian ambassador to Lebanon was quoted on Friday in the pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al-Akhbar as saying the Syrian military was recovering the southwest with help from Moscow.

“We say that the Syrian army now, with support from Russian forces, is recovering its land in the south and restoring the authority of the Syrian state,” it quoted him as saying in an interview.

“Israel has no justification to carry out any action that obstructs the fight against terrorism,” he added.

The Syrian government has denied using barrel bombs, containers filled with explosive material that are dropped from helicopters and which cannot be accurately aimed. However, United Nations investigators have extensively documented its use of them during the conflict.