Qatar opposition event starts in London amid high security

An aerial view of Qatar’s capital, Doha (Shutterstock)
Updated 14 September 2017
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Qatar opposition event starts in London amid high security

DUBAI: Members of the Qatari opposition are speaking publically for the first time at an event debating the situation in Qatar.
Shrouded in secrecy amid concerns over interference by the Qatari government and its supporters, the Qatar, Global Security and Stability Conference has also attracted a line-up of world renowned speakers, including the former US Ambassador to the UN, and an ex-British Cabinet Minister.
Security was tight at the event, held at a hotel in the east of the capital, with sniffer dogs prowling the site before it opened. They will be joined by members of the Qatari opposition – exiled Qataris pressing for reform in the country who have never spoken previously in public.
The conference will focus on five main topics: Political Islam and terrorist groups; Qatar and Iran’s Foreign Policy, a source of regional instability; Democracy, human rights and a quest for global prestige; Al Jazeera – free press or voice of terror; and Qatar’s economic and geopolitical influence.
The event’s organizer Khalid Al-Hail, spokesman for the Qatar National Democratic Party, which earlier told Arab News that he “feared for his life” because of perceived threats over his opposition stance.
The conference comes as the diplomatic crisis between the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) and Qatar enters its fourth month.
The ATQ was formed in June by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, the four nations that initially severed ties with Qatar in June amid allegations that it supported terror.
Attending this week’s event are a number of senior politicians including Britain’s Lord Paddy Ashdown, former US Ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson, former British Prime Minister Iain Duncan Smith, and other prominent commentators.
Al-Hail said ahead of the event: “The support we have received from some of the most respected and high-profile commentators on the Middle East, World Affairs and the media demonstrates the level of concern there is inside and outside Qatar about the current direction of the leadership of the country.”


Britain condemns Israel bias at UN rights council

Updated 17 min 22 sec ago
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Britain condemns Israel bias at UN rights council

  • British foreign secretary Boris Johnson criticized the council’s controversial Agenda Item 7, a permanent fixture on the schedule exclusively devoted to discussing rights abuses in the Palestinian Territories.
  • Johnson noted however that the council had an important role to play in “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the right agenda item.”

GENEVA: Britain on Monday urged the UN Human Rights Council to reform its treatment of Israel, joining the United States in demanding an end to the body’s alleged bias against the Jewish State.
Addressing the opening of the 38th council session, British foreign secretary Boris Johnson criticized the council’s controversial Agenda Item 7, a permanent fixture on the schedule exclusively devoted to discussing rights abuses in the Palestinian Territories.
“We share the view that the dedicated Agenda Item 7 focused solely on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace, and unless things change we shall vote next year against all resolutions introduced under Item 7,” Johnson said.
Israel is the only country with a dedicated council item.
Washington, some European countries and Australia have sided with Israel in condemning Item 7 as prejudiced, noting that countries with arguably worse rights records in recent years, like Syria are spared such intense scrutiny.
While previous US administrations have criticized Item 7, President Donald Trump’s government has raised the prospect of withdrawing from the council unless it is scrapped.
Johnson noted however that the council had an important role to play in “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the right agenda item.”
Each council session includes an agenda item on so-called country specific situations, known as Agenda Item 4, where debates on the crises in Syria, Burundi and others typically take place.