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 in US talks to avoid ‘negative impact’ from Iran sanctions

Updated 44 sec ago
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Turkey in US talks to avoid ‘negative impact’ from Iran sanctions

ANKARA: Turkey on Friday hosted an American delegation for talks to address concerns about the potential negative impact on its economy of the looming reimposition of US sanctions against Iran.
US President Donald Trump decided in May to abandon the 2015 deal agreed with other world powers on Iran’s nuclear program and reimpose nuclear-related sanctions against the country.
The sanctions, which will seek to bar foreign companies from doing business with Iran and block its oil sales abroad, have alarmed Turkey which has strong trade links with its neighbor and imports Iranian crude.
“Our relevant authorities are carrying out necessary work for Turkey not to be negatively impacted by the upcoming sanctions,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“Within this framework, we had discussions with the US delegation visiting Turkey,” it said, without giving further details.
It added that “Iran is an important neighbor for Turkey, in view of both our bilateral economic and commercial relations as well as our energy imports.”
Turkish officials have vowed to continue trading with Iran despite the sanctions, which the former Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci in May described as an “opportunity.”
Asking not to be named, a US official acknowledged that the sanctions were “a very important and potentially contentious issue between the two governments.”
He said the delegation had come “to make clear what the implications of our sanction legislation are, so there are no misunderstandings and confusion.”
“The earlier we have these high level talks ..., the less likely we are to wander into new areas of disagreement out of ignorance,” said the official.
Relations between Turkey and the US have already been strained after a Turkish banker who helped Iran evade US sanctions was convicted in the US in January.
Mehmet Haka Atilla was convicted after well-connected Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, arrested in the US in 2016, became a government witness and admitted involvement in a multi-billion-dollar gold-for-oil scheme to subvert US economic sanctions against Iran.
During his testimony, Zarrab implicated President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other officials in the scheme.
In May, a Manhattan court sentenced Atilla to 32 months in jail.
Annual trade between Turkey and Iran is around $10 billion but Erdogan has expressed hope of raising it to $30 billion.
Iran supplies Turkey with around one half of its crude oil imports and Iranian tourists are increasingly important for the Turkish market.