Anti-Terror Quartet: Measures taken against Qatar not a blockade but boycott

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is pictured on a screen as he delivers his speech at the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on September 11, 2017. (REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
Updated 15 September 2017
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Anti-Terror Quartet: Measures taken against Qatar not a blockade but boycott

GENEVA: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates affirmed on Thursday that the measures they have taken against Qatar are “legitimate sovereign decisions”.
In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the four Arab nations — collectively known as the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) — said the measures cannot be considered a “blockade" by any means, but rather “a boycott emanating from the harm caused by irresponsible Doha actions through its support, financing and harboring of terrorist elements.”
The statement was issued in Swiss capital on behalf of the quartet by the UAE Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Obeid Salem Al-Ziaabi, in response to a speech by Qatar’s foreign minister during a panel discussion on the Qatari crisis during the current session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani claimed that the Qatari people have been harmed by the “illegal siege" enforced by the four countries.
Al-Ziaabi refuted the charge, saying that senior Qatari officials had in fact been strutting around with a “business as usual” attitude and projecting the impression that the boycott had little effect on them.
“In our opinion, these contradictions adopted by Qatari policy decision-makers reflecting dualism of speech, explain that there are two tones of address in Qatar, one addressing the domestic public and the other refuting the international viewpoints aiming to unveil the real reasons behind the boycott,” he said.
The quartet severed diplomatic relations with Qatar in early June, accusing it of harboring extremists and supporting or financing terrorist organizations.
Ziaabi said the Qatari delegation’s effort to push forward the matter for the second time on the same day only showed that Qatar “did not have any intention to review and change its policies and positions in support of terrorism and extremism.”
Despite an attempt by the Emir of Kuwait to mediate between his feuding allies, Qatar has repeatedly thumbed its nose on the quartet and flaunted its closer ties with Iran.
Iran has been accused by the quartet of sowing chaos and violence in the Mideast region, supporting militias such as the Houthis of Yemen, the Hezbollah of Lebanon, and the brutal regime of Bashar Assad in Syria.


Hundreds of Syrian “White Helmets” evacuated by Israel to Jordan: Reports

Updated 3 min 58 sec ago
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Hundreds of Syrian “White Helmets” evacuated by Israel to Jordan: Reports

  • Israeli military said it had completed “a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organization and their families ... due to an immediate threat to their lives”
  • The evacuation came at the request of the US and several European countries

JERUSALEM: About 800 members of Syria’s White Helmets civil defense group and their families were evacuated via Israel to Jordan on Sunday from southwest Syria, where a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive is under way, media said.
In a statement, the Israeli military said it had completed “a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organization and their families ... due to an immediate threat to their lives.”
It said they were transferred to a neighboring country, which it did not identify, and that the evacuation came at the request of the United States and several European countries.
Israeli media identified the Syrians as belonging to the White Helmets organization. Officially called the Syrian Civil Defense but known by their distinctive white helmets, the group has operated a rescue service in rebel-held parts of Syria.
Jordan’s official Petra news agency said on its website the kingdom “authorized the United Nations to organize the passage of about 800 Syrian citizens through Jordan for resettlement in Western countries.”
The agency identified the Syrians as civil defense workers who fled areas controlled by the Syrian opposition after attacks there by the Syrian army.
Petra said they would remain in a closed area in Jordan and that Britain, Germany and Canada had agreed to resettle them within three months.
The Syrian military, backed by a Russian air campaign, has been pushing into the edges of Quneitra province following an offensive last month that routed rebels in adjoining Daraa province who were once backed by Washington, Jordan and Gulf states.
The offensive has restored Syrian government control over a swathe of the southwest, strategic territory at the borders with Jordan and Israel.