UK Parliament calls out fake Qatari news reports about politicians’ visit

A picture tweeted by Lord Nazir Ahmed shows members of the delegation on a visit to Qatar. (Twitter)
Updated 20 October 2017
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UK Parliament calls out fake Qatari news reports about politicians’ visit

LONDON: Qatar issued a false statement about a visit by British politicians to Doha, in which it was claimed an official committee called for the lifting of the blockade on the Gulf state, the UK Parliament has told Arab News.
The state-run Qatar News Agency (QNA) in September claimed that the “British Parliamentary Inquiry Committee” had been “charged by the British Parliament to investigate the violations of the siege imposed on the State of Qatar.”
But no committee of that name exists, and the UK Parliament made no order for such a visit, it was confirmed this week.
The QNA report — which also referenced a non-existent MP called “J. Morse” — was picked up by several Qatar-based media outlets. Some claimed that the group of politicians had called for the blockade on Qatar to be lifted.
The UK Parliament confirmed that a group of British politicians visited Qatar in September, but denied that it was an official visit.
“A number of parliamentarians visited Qatar in partnership with the Arab Organization for Human Rights in the UK,” a parliamentary spokesperson told Arab News.
“This was done in their personal capacity, and not as part of an official committee of the UK Parliament. The rules concerning registration of foreign travel for MPs and peers are set out in the relevant codes of conduct.”
The delegation to Qatar in September included Grahame Morris MP, Lord Nazir Ahmed, Lord Kilclooney and Lord Qurban Hussain. All refused to comment on the nature or funding of the trip, despite repeated requests by Arab News.
The three members of the House of Lords all declared the visit in the parliamentary register of interests, saying that the travel and accommodation costs were met by the Arab Organization for Human Rights in UK. Lord Kilclooney and Lord Qurban Hussain declared it as a “cross-party parliamentary visit.”
Records for the Arab Organization for Human Rights lodged at Companies House in the UK show that it is a non-trading company. The organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The freelance journalist Bill Law also accompanied the group trip to Qatar, and was pictured, with a wide smile on his face, in group photographs with the politicians.
Law later filed a report for the BBC radio show “From Our Own Correspondent,” in which he quotes Qataris who were highly critical of the Anti-Terror Quartet, including one unnamed person who claimed the action of the quartet amounted to “terrorism.” 
A BBC spokesperson stood by the report. “This first person piece from Qatar looks at the impact the current situation is having on the mood of the country, families, as well as at the economic upset. We’re satisfied the piece is an impartial piece of journalism,” the spokesperson told Arab News.
The Anti-Terror Quartet — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — imposed a blockade in June over allegations that Qatar supports extremist groups. Doha denies the charges.


Houthi militias recruit children and force them to fight on the front lines — Al-Maliki

Updated 11 min 34 sec ago
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Houthi militias recruit children and force them to fight on the front lines — Al-Maliki

  • Col. Turki Al-Maliki, the coalition spokesman, said the Iran-backed group are also using civilians as human shields in Hodeidah, where a battle is raging for control of the country’s largest port.
  • The coalition spokesman said eight members of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, were seized in an ambush in Saada —  the province in the north which is a Houthi stronghold.

RIYADH: Yemen’s Houthi militias are recruiting children by force and making them fight on the front lines, the Saudi-led coalition said on Monday.

Col. Turki Al-Maliki, the coalition spokesman, said the Iran-backed group are also using civilians as human shields in Hodeidah, where a battle is raging for control of the country’s largest port.

The claims came a day after Saudi air defenses intercepted two ballistic missiles launched by the Houthis over the capital.

The attack brings the total number of ballistic missiles launched by the militia against Saudi Arabia to 155, Al-Maliki said at a press conference in Riyadh.

In Yemen, he said coalition forces were removing hundreds of thousands of land mines planted by the Houthis. 

Army engineering support teams were continuing demining operations in Hajjah, northwestern Yemen and more than 600,000 planted by the Houthis in Hodeidah have been removed so far, Al-Maliki said. 

Yemeni pro-government forces backed by the Arab coalition are fighting to seize the city from the Houthis. The capture of the city and its port - one of the main supply lines to the country, could prove to be pivotal in the outcome of the war. 

The coalition have called on the Houthis to withdraw from the city.  

UN envoy Martin Griffiths is due in Aden on Wednesday for talks with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who was forced to flee the capital Sanaa when the Houthis seized the city in 2014. 

Al-Maliki also gave an update on progress made by pro-government forces in other parts of the country.

The coalition spokesman said eight members of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, were seized in an ambush in Saada —  the province in the north which is a Houthi stronghold.

They were captured on Monday along with a senior Houthi leader in the Al-Malahit district.

Al-Maliki said Yemeni forces had succeeded in controlling several villages in Al-Bayda province and that the Yemeni army had regained control of several positions in Harf Sufyan, west of Taiz.

“The Yemeni army, with the support of the Saudi-led coalition, continues its advances in Saada,” he added.

Al-Maliki said the Saudi-led coalition supports all the efforts of UN envoy Griffiths.

The Saudi coalition sent 12 trucks carrying aid to Hodeidah and the coalition will continue to allow relief vessels to enter the port, despite Houthi efforts to block aid access to civilians.