Dubai ruler takes to verse to urge Qatar turnabout

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. (AFP)
Updated 29 June 2017
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Dubai ruler takes to verse to urge Qatar turnabout

DUBAI: The ruler of Dubai has taken to verse to urge Qatar to concede to the demands of Saudi Arabia and its allies for an end to a crippling embargo.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, who is also vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, is the latest in a long line of world leaders to turn to poetry to convey their message.
In the poem, posted on Instagram late on Wednesday, Sheikh Mohammed urged Qatar to abandon its independent foreign policy and return to the Gulf fold.
“Of one origin, people, existence/one flesh and blood, one land and faith,” he wrote.
“Yet Qatar turns to the nearby stranger, to the weak,” he added, alluding to Doha’s refusal to join the Riyadh-led boycott of Tehran.
“Now is the time to unite, one heart/to protect one another beyond hate.”
The poem garnered more than 80,000 likes overnight.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and its allies Egypt and Bahrain severed all ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of support for extremist groups — a claim Doha denies.
Last week, Riyadh laid down a list of 13 “non-negotiable” demands for Doha, including ending its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the closure of Al-Jazeera television, a downgrade of diplomatic ties with Iran and the shutdown of a Turkish military base in the emirate.
The UAE ambassador to Russia Omar Ghobash warned in comments published by Britain’s Guardian newspaper on Tuesday that Qatar could face further sanctions if it failed to meet the demands.
Sheikh Mohammed is by no means the first world leader to turn to poetry.
Former US president Jimmy Carter is a published poet. Barack Obama dabbled in poetry in the 1980s and his successor Donald Trump is now the unintentional author of a compilation of tweets and quotes entitled “Bard of the Deal: The poetry of Donald Trump.”
Bosnian Serb psychiatrist-turned-politician Radovan Karadzic, sentenced to 40 years in jail by a UN court last year for his part in the 1995 genocide of Muslims in the town of Srebrenica, also fancied himself as a poet, releasing a collection of poetry and a novel, “Miraculous Chronicles of the Night.”


Turkey bans rally for Kurdish MP on hunger strike

A member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) reacts next to policemen during a demonstration in solidarity with a HDP lawmaker on hunger strike in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, on February 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 February 2019
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Turkey bans rally for Kurdish MP on hunger strike

  • Ocalan, one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, has not been allowed to see his lawyers since 2011

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey: Turkish police on Friday prevented supporters from rallying outside the home of a pro-Kurdish lawmaker on hunger strike for 100 days.
The protest bid coincides with the 20th anniversary of the capture of Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is jailed in a notorious prison island near Istanbul.
Leyla Guven of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), launched her action on Nov. 8 while in jail to protest against Ocalan’s prison conditions.
She was freed last month under judicial supervision but continued her protest, refusing any treatment. Guven, 55, is consuming only sugared or salted water.
Police on Friday blocked supporters from approaching Guven’s house in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir after a rally called by the HDP, an AFP correspondent said.
“The biggest task ahead of us today is to turn every aspect of life into an arena for struggle and support hunger strikes at the highest level,” HDP MP Dilan Dirayet Tasdemir said.
“This dark picture and severe conditions of fascism can only be broken through our organized struggle,” Tasdemir said.
More than 200 prisoners are on hunger strike to protest what they call Ocalan’s isolation, according to the HDP.
Ocalan, one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, has not been allowed to see his lawyers since 2011.
The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
Ocalan was caught in Kenya outside the Greek Embassy in Nairobi on Feb. 15, 1999 by Turkish secret service agents after attempting to seek asylum in Europe.
Turkish authorities last month allowed Ocalan’s brother Mehmet to see him, the first visit in over two years.