Arab anti-terror quartet extends Qatar boycott as Doha rejects demands

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Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (L), Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa (2nd-L), Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (2nd-R), and UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (R) meet in the Egyptian capital Cairo on July 5, 2017, to discuss the Gulf diplomatic crisis with Qata. (AFP)
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Foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — Adel Al-Jubeir, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Sameh Shoukry and Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa — meet to discuss the Qatari diplomatic crisis in Cairo on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 06 July 2017
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Arab anti-terror quartet extends Qatar boycott as Doha rejects demands

CAIRO: Four Arab states calling for combating terrorism vowed Wednesday to maintain their boycott of Qatar, criticizing its “negative” response to their list of demands to end the diplomatic crisis.
Doha’s response, they said, was “not serious” and betrayed Qatar’s “failure” to realize the gravity of the situation.
The announcement followed a meeting by foreign ministers from the four nations — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain — in Cairo, shortly after they said they had received Doha’s reply. 
 “The political and economic boycott will remain until Qatar changes its policies for the better," Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said. 
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told reporters Qatar’s response to the Arab states’ 13-point list of demands was “negative on the whole.” It did not “lay the foundations for Qatar’s abandonment of the policies it pursues. It’s a position that does not realize the gravity of the situation,” he added.
The ministers did not say what their next steps would be — that, they explained, would be announced after further consultations. They will meet next in Bahrain, but a date has yet to be set.
“We hope wisdom will prevail and Qatar will eventually make the right decisions,” added Shoukry, who said the four nations were acting against Qatar within the boundaries of international law as well as the interest to safeguard regional and international security.
Shoukry said Qatar’s policies could not be allowed to continue and vowed that Egyptian blood would not be shed in vain, a reference to deadly attacks by militants on Egyptian army and security forces. 
UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said Qatar was only interested in “destruction, incitement, extremism and terrorism,” rather than in good neighborly relations.
He added:  “To defeat terrorism, we must confront extremism, we must confront hate speech, we must confront the harboring and sheltering of extremists and terrorists, and funding them… Unfortunately, we in this region see that our sister nation of Qatar has allowed and harbored and encouraged all of this.”
“Today’s meeting on Qatar was for coordination purposes and we will take full studied decisions later,” said Bahrain’s foreign minister, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has sent UN political chief Jeffrey Feltman to the Gulf to discuss how the UN might work with regional partners to resolve the crisis.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that Feltman has already been to the UAE and was in Kuwait, which is trying to mediate the conflict.
Dujarric says Feltman will be traveling to Doha.
US President Donald Trump, on Wednesday, discussed the Qatari crisis with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in a call. The US president called on all sides to negotiate constructively and reiterated the need for all countries to follow thorough on their commitments at the Riyadh Summit to stop terrorist financing and discrediting extremist ideology.


Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

Updated 18 September 2018
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Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

  • Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport
  • Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the country

TRIPOLI: New clashes flared between rival militias south of Libya’s capital Tripoli on Tuesday, causing widespread power outages, the national electricity firm said.
The fighting underscored the fragility of a United Nations-backed cease-fire reached earlier this month after days of deadly violence between armed groups in the capital, beset by turmoil since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport, according to witnesses including an AFP journalist.
Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the North African nation’s south and west.
Fighting which broke out late last month killed at least 63 people and wounded 159 others — mostly civilians — before the cease-fire came into effect on September 4.
Last week, the capital’s only working airport came under rocket fire just days after reopening following the truce.
Mitiga International Airport, located in a former military base that includes a prison, is currently controlled by the Special Deterrence Forces, a Salafist militia which serves as Tripoli’s police force and has been involved in clashes around the capital.
Interior Minister Abdessalam Ashour said Monday that a “regular force” would be tasked with securing the airport.
UN envoy Ghassan Salame later reported 14 cease-fire violations around Tripoli, but sought to play them down, saying the deal had been “generally respected.”
Tripoli’s main airport has been out of action since it was severely damaged by similar clashes in 2014.
Since Qaddafi’s fall in 2011, oil-rich Libya has been rocked by violence between dozens of armed groups vying for control of its cities and vast oil resources.
A UN-brokered agreement signed in Morocco in December 2015 established the Government of National Accord (GNA) in a bid to ease the chaos.
But deep divisions remain between the GNA and rivals including military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is based in eastern Libya and backs a competing authority.
The GNA last week announced a series of measures to secure the capital and curb the influence of militias over state institutions and banks.