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

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.

Illegal immigration, refugees top Arab-EU Summit agenda

Updated 24 February 2019

Illegal immigration, refugees top Arab-EU Summit agenda

  • Heads of state, officials from EU and Arab League member countries to attend summit today
  • Some 19.5 million people globally have been forced to flee their countries

CAIRO: Egypt on Sunday will host heads of state, government officials and representatives from EU and Arab League member countries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Bahrain’s King Hamad.

Refugees and illegal immigration will top the agenda amid the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.

Some 19.5 million people globally have been forced to flee their countries. According to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), Syrians constitute the largest refugee population in Europe, followed by Eritreans then Afghans. 

According to unofficial statistics, Syrians are also the largest refugee population in the Arab world, followed by Yemenis, Libyans and Sudanese.

Hossam El-Khouli, secretary-general of the Egyptian Nation’s Future Party, said: “The EU … should call for the repatriation of refugees if conditions are appropriate.”

He said: “As for the right of asylum … a number of countries have granted asylum to criminals who have committed violent crimes against their own people and homelands.”

Summit participants intend to debate the necessity of combating this kind of migration, especially given its impact on the security and economy of many countries. 

Margaret Azer, an Egyptian lawmaker, said a country’s economic conditions are one of the main drivers of illegal immigration. 

“The decline of political conditions in several countries is (also) contributing to the rise in numbers of people seeking illegal immigration,” she told Arab News. 

“For example, we see that the biggest percentage of immigrants in Europe are from countries like Syria and Libya. The reason could also be religious or sectarian persecution, as is the case in Myanmar.”

Frontex President Fabrice Leggeri said although the number of migrants arriving in Europe dropped to 150,114 in 2018 compared to 204,750 in 2017, the agency continues to support border controls by providing more workers and technology.