Damning Indictment: CNN leaks show Qatar reneged on GCC commitments

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A Saudi source has confirmed to Arab News the authenticity of the documents revealed to CNN.
Updated 11 July 2017
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Damning Indictment: CNN leaks show Qatar reneged on GCC commitments

JEDDAH: Qatar, which is in the eye of a storm following a tough stance taken by the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ), had signed agreements in the past that authorized its neighboring Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to do what they deemed necessary to protect their security.
Copies of the agreements were leaked to CNN on Monday. The first — handwritten and dated Nov. 23, 2013 — is signed by the Saudi king and the emirs of Qatar and Kuwait.
It lays out commitments to avoid any interference in the internal affairs of other Gulf nations, including barring financial or political support to “deviant” groups, referring to terrorist groups.
The documents explicitly state that if the articles of the Riyadh Accord are not adhered to, GCC states will be within their rights to take all necessary measures to protect their security.
CNN said the existence of the agreements had been known, but both the content and the documents themselves were kept secret due to the sensitivity of the issues involved and the fact that they were agreed in private by heads of state.
Copies of the agreements were exclusively obtained by CNN from a source from the region with access to the documents. A Saudi source confirmed to Arab News their authenticity.

The documents can be viewed in PDF via CNN here

In a previous statement to CNN, Qatar’s foreign minister accused Saudi Arabia and the UAE of breaking the spirit of the agreements and indulging in an “unprovoked attack on Qatar’s sovereignty.”
But he never disclosed that Doha had agreed in writing to abide by those very demands in the past.
The ATQ — comprising Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt — issued a joint statement that the leaked documents published by CNN show without doubt that Doha had breached the agreements it had committed to in 2013 and 2014.

Here is a link to the full CNN report

While cutting ties and boycotting Qatar recently, the ATQ blamed Doha for not complying with the two agreements, which clearly barred it from supporting opposition and hostile groups in the GCC states, as well as in Egypt and Yemen.
Abiding by the agreements was among six principles the Gulf nations set as requirements to mend relations with Qatar in a statement released last week.
A supplemental document to the 2013 agreements signed by the countries’ foreign ministers discusses implementation.
It includes provisions barring support of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as groups in Yemen and Saudi Arabia that pose a threat to the security of GCC countries (Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman).
In March 2014, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar, alleging that Doha was not implementing the first agreement’s pledge not to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs. 
The ATQ submitted a list of 13 demands to end the diplomatic crisis, including ending support for terror financing.
The list also includes demands to cut ties to extremist organizations, including the Brotherhood, Hezbollah and Daesh; to halt the development of a Turkish military base in Qatar; and to stop giving Qatari nationality to the wanted nationals of ATQ states.
The ATQ statement said the list of 13 demands presented to Doha is aimed at making it adhere to its previous commitments to the agreements reached in 2013 and 2014.
Fahad Nazer, a political analyst based in Washington, said the documents disprove Qatar’s claims that it is being boycotted for no reason.
“The release of the documents confirms what close observers of politics in the Arabian Gulf have known for a while,” he told Arab News. “The crisis between Qatar and its neighbors wasn’t a surprise. It was in essence a culmination of almost two decades of policies that were nothing short of interference in the domestic affairs of some of its closest neighbors.”
Lori Plotkin Boghardt, a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Arab News that in view of the violations of the pacts, it would be difficult for the ATQ to take Doha at face value.
“Whereas before, Qatari promises to change were enough, this time the Saudis and Emiratis aren’t likely to accept only promises — they want to see actual changes in behavior before they let up on the pressure,” she said.
David Andrew Weinberg, senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said it is clear that Qatar violated the terms of its agreements with the other GCC states.
“There’s no doubt that Qatar has been a continued political sponsor of the Brotherhood, including since 2014,” he told Arab News. “It’s clear that Qatar’s Al Jazeera has remained antagonistic media, undermining the security of neighboring countries and the region.”
 


Pakistan court rejects Sharif family’s bail pleas

Updated 9 min 23 sec ago
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Pakistan court rejects Sharif family’s bail pleas

  • Court adjourned hearing into the case until end of July, seeking complete record of trial against Sharif family
  • Ex-premier’s close aide, Senator Pervaiz Rashid, still expects the high court will set aside the convictions

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court on Tuesday rejected appeals of ex-premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt. (retd) Mohammad Safdar for bail and suspension of their convictions in a corruption reference.
A divisional bench of Islamabad High Court has taken up the Sharif family’s appeals against an accountability court verdict in Avenfield properties reference and later adjourned the hearing until the last week of July.
The two-member bench comprising Justices Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Mian Gul Hassan Aurangzeb, however, issued notices to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor and investigator to present a complete record of the trial in the court at the time of the next hearing.
The ex-premier, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Safdar are currently in jail after the accountability court in Islamabad on July 6 sentenced Nawaz and Maryam in absentia to 10 years and seven years respectively with a $8 million and $2 million fine respectively on corruption charges.
Safdar was given a one-year sentence without any fine.
The Islamabad High Court has now summoned a NAB prosecutor and investigation officer on the next hearing to record their arguments on the Sharif family’s appeals seeking bail and suspension of the accountability court verdict.
The court was packed to its capacity when hearing into the appeals started in the afternoon. Scores of supporters and leaders of the ex-premier have turned up in the court to observe the hearing into the appeals.
Lawyers of the convicts highlighted legal lacunae in the accountability court verdict during the hearing and urged the court to suspend the imprisonment sentences of their clients until a final decision of the Islamabad High Court.
Khawaja Harris, legal counsel of Nawaz Sharif, argued that it was a case of having assets beyond known sources of income but the NAB prosecutor and investigator failed to provide valuation of the Avenfield properties during the trial.
He said the accountability court verdict is also based on presumptions that Nawaz Sharif’s children were dependent on him and had no monetary resources to buy the London flats. He said the prosecution also failed to prove this assumption during the trial.
Likewise, Amjad Pervez, legal counsel of Maryam and Safdar, also highlighted flaws in the accountability court’s verdict and urged the court to set aside the ruling.
The court also dismissed the Sharif family’s request to stay corruption trial in remaining two references in the accountability court till their appeals are decided.
Talking to the media outside the court, Senator Pervaiz Rashid, a close aide of Nawaz Sharif, said the people expect the high court to decide on the appeals at the same speed with which corruption proceedings were conducted against the Sharif family in the accountability court.
“We expect justice from the court,” he said. “We hope the high court will declare the convictions of Nawaz Sharif and his family void after hearing the arguments of our lawyers.”
On July 13, both Nawaz and Maryam were arrested at Lahore airport on their arrival from London and sent to Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi, to serve their sentence.
The two leaders were in London at the time of the verdict with Nawaz’s wife and Maryam’s mother Kulsoom Nawaz, who is battling cancer. She has reportedly been on life support since June 14.
Earlier, Shahbaz Sharif, younger brother of Nawaz Sharif and ex-chief minister Punjab province, has written a letter to the caretaker chief minister to complain about “abysmal conditions” under which the ex-premier was languishing in a high-security Adiala jail.
He demanded the government provide all basic facilities, including access to a personal doctor and air-conditioning, to Nawaz Sharif.
“It is very unfortunate that Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, three-time prime minister of Pakistan, is being treated in such a shabby manner,” the letter available to Arab News reads.