Qatar sanctions likely to become permanent: UAE

Turkish troops seen at their military base in Doha, Qatar June 23, 2017. (Qatar News Agency/Handout via Reuters)
Updated 29 June 2017
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Qatar sanctions likely to become permanent: UAE

JEDDAH: Sanctions imposed on Qatar this month are looking increasingly likely to become permanent as the deadline to meet a set of demands laid out by its Gulf neighbors fast approaches, according to the BBC.
The small peninsular nation has been told it must stop funding terrorism — which it denies — downgrade ties with Iran, and shutdown its news organization Al Jazeera, or face permanent isolation.
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt, have given Doha until Monday, July 3, to comply with their demands, but so far it has shown no signs of backing down.
UAE Ambassador to Moscow, Omar Ghobash, conceded that Qatar was not responding “positively” to the demands.
And he explained: “I think the whole idea would be to ultimately, simply disengage from Qatar.”
But asked if this included expulsion from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), he replied: “not immediately,” but added it was under discussion.
Ghobash said he did not believe there was risk that the situation could escalate into a military conflict, or at least: “Not from our side.”
“These are relatives and friends. They have a leadership that’s decided to undermine us. We’ll cut all our ties with Qatar, economic, political and even social as a result of the flight bans.”
He explained that once the deadline past, the four Arab states would “no longer be interested in bringing Qatar back into the Gulf and the Arab fold.”
Ghobash admitted that permanent sanctions would present risks — not least, pushing Qatar further toward Iran.
But he added: “Unfortunately Qatar has been in the arms of Iran and many Sunni extremist groups for a long time… So the idea of it falling into Iran’s lap is something we accept [as a risk] but at least it will provide clarity to the region and we’ll know who our friends and enemies are.”
Turkey, which maintains a military presence in Qatar, recently airlifted in armored vehicles, and it also suggested it might deploy more troops, prompting Bahrain to accuse Qatar of “military escalation.”
Ghobash denies the current situation is mere spat between royals, adding that such a claim was a “a complete misrepresentation of the situation.”
Instead he said: This is a serious conflict and a turning point in our societies… This is a principled stand that we are taking against very powerful negative narratives of Islam being funded by countries like Qatar.”


Iraqi PM faces protests over power shortages and graft

A handout photo released by Iraq's Prime Minister's Media Office on January 20, 2019 shows Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (C) during his trip to the southern city of Basra. (AFP)
Updated 31 min 44 sec ago
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Iraqi PM faces protests over power shortages and graft

  • Security services in Basra were on high alert on Sunday after the circulation of an image of a leaflet with the slogan of Daesh on it calling for support for the protests

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s exclusion from US sanctions on Iran and allowing it to import gas and electricity will not ease the pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government, Iraqi politicians and officials told Arab News on Sunday.
Mass demonstrations are planned for later this week in the Shiite-dominated southern provinces to protest about the lack of basic daily services including electricity and drinking water, high rates of unemployment and corruption in ministries and government departments, activists told Arab News.
Iranian energy and natural gas imports amount to about 4,000 megawatts per day, equivalent to 20 percent of Iraq’s total production.
The US three-month extension waiver allowing Iraq to import Iranian gas and electricity is expected to dampen some of the anger and give Abdul Mahdi’s government a chance to find more radical solutions to the electricity shortage caused by terrorist actions, lack of planning and government corruption over the past 15-16 years.
People in Basra plan to take to the streets on July 20, activists told Arab News.
“Unemployment, scarcity of electricity and potable water and corruption are all still in place and none have been addressed despite the fact we have been protesting every year,” Sheikh Raied Al-Fraijai, the head of Basra tribal council and one of the Basra’s key activists, told Arab News.
“We will demand the dismissal of Abdul Mahdi and his government,” he said.
Electricity supply from the national grid does not exceed a 12-hour-a-day average during the summer, when temperatures exceed 50 degrees Celsius. This is one of the most powerful engines of the demonstrations, which usually turn violent and lead to clashes between protesters and security forces.
Last summer demonstrations extended to most of the southern provinces and Baghdad. There were massive riots, especially in Basra and Amara, where government and party headquarters were set on fire, as well as the Iranian Consulate. At least 22 demonstrators and security personal were killed.
Controlling the demonstrations and preventing Iraqi political forces from exploiting them is one of the challenges facing both local governments and activists.
Security services in Basra were on high alert on Sunday after the circulation of an image of a leaflet with the slogan of Daesh on it calling for support for the protests and inciting demonstrators to attack members of the “Savage army,” a term used by Daesh to describe the Iraqi army.
“This game (the circulation of the leaflet) aims to give the necessary cover for the local government in Basra to target us,” an activist told Arab News.
“Now they (local officials) have a good pretext to come after us. They can easily say that we are belong to Daesh or just say these are aimed to provide the cover for sabotage and targeting security forces.”