Bahrain calls for suspension of Qatar’s GCC membership

Updated 31 October 2017
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Bahrain calls for suspension of Qatar’s GCC membership

RIYADH: Manama on Monday called for Qatar’s membership of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to be suspended until it accepts the demands of the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ), comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.
King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa called for further isolation of Doha, saying: “Bahrain will not attend any GCC Summit unless Qatar returns to its senses.”
During a Cabinet meeting, King Hamad said: “Doha has not respected the charters, the treaties and the policies that ensure the security of the Gulf region.”
This followed Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa’s call for “freezing” Qatar’s GCC membership, tweeting: “Manama will not attend the upcoming GCC Summit if Qatar takes part.”
He strongly criticized Doha for non-compliance with the ATQ’s 13 demands, which include scaling down ties with Tehran and closing down Al Jazeera.
The ATQ severed ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting terrorism and extremism.
Contacted by Arab News on Monday, the spokesmen of the GCC general secretariat and the Saudi Foreign Ministry did not comment on Manama’s statements.
Bahrain’s king and foreign minister are the first senior officials from the GCC to suggest Qatar’s suspension from the six-nation bloc.
“Qatar’s failure to respond positively to our just demand to stop conspiring against our countries proves that it does not respect the GCC,” Sheikh Khalid said.
“Given Qatar’s rogue policy and pervasive evil that threaten our national security, our countries have taken an important step by boycotting Qatar in the hope it regains its senses.”
Sheikh Khalid, who posted a series of tweets to his 445,000 followers, added: “If Qatar thinks that its procrastination and its current evasion will buy time until the next GCC Summit, then it is wrong.”
He said: “If the situation remains as it is… Bahrain will not attend the summit and sit with Qatar, a country that is getting closer to Iran every day and is bringing in foreign forces, both of which are dangerous steps against the security of the GCC countries.”
Kuwait has tried to mediate between the two sides, but almost five months into the dispute, no progress has been achieved. Founded in 1981, the GCC is scheduled to hold its annual summit in Kuwait in December.
In a separate development, Qatar’s emir said he is ready for US-hosted direct talks aimed at solving the crisis, but has yet to hear a response to President Donald Trump’s invitation to the ATQ members.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani told US broadcaster CBS News that he wants an end to the dispute.
“Nothing is going to be above our dignity, our sovereignty. But we want it to end. I always say that,” he told the “60 Minutes” program in an interview aired on Sunday.
“If they (are) going to walk 1 meter toward me, I’m willing to walk 10,000 miles toward them.”
Sheikh Tamim said Trump had told him that he “will not accept my friends fighting among themselves,” and that in talks on the sidelines of a UN meeting in September, he had offered to host talks in the US.
“I told him straight away, ‘Mr. President, we are very ready. I’ve been asking for dialogue from day one’,” Sheikh Tamim said.
He reiterated that Qatar will not close down the Doha-based Al Jazeera television network. He also said he feared for the region if any military action is taken as part of the crisis, Reuters reported.


Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

Ali Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper. (Supplied)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

  • About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial

ISTANBUL: A court sentenced Turkish journalist Ali Unal to 19 years in jail on Wednesday on a charge of being a leader in the network accused of carrying out a failed coup in July 2016, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
The ruling followed a sustained crackdown in the wake of the coup attempt, but also came amid steps by the government that appear aimed at improving ties with the US and Europe, strained by the sweeping campaign of arrests.
Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper, widely seen as the flagship media outlet for the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara says orchestrated the attempted putsch. Gulen denies any involvement.
Speaking by video link from jail to the court in the western province of Usak, Unal denied being a founder or leader of the network and denied involvement in the putsch, Anadolu said.
“I have no link with any terrorist organization,” he said, adding that he had spoken five or six times to Gulen and that he was being tried over his writing.
He was sentenced to 19 years and six months for “leading an armed terrorist group.” Six other Zaman journalists were convicted on similar charges in July.
About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial. Authorities also sacked or suspended 150,000 civil servants and military personnel and shut down dozens of media outlets.Illustrating the scale of its actions, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday his ministry had dismissed 23 percent of its career personnel over links to Gulen.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said some journalists helped nurture terrorists with their writing, and that the crackdown is needed to ensure stability in a NATO member bordering Syria, Iraq and Iran. Critics say Erdogan has used the crackdown to muzzle dissent and increase his own power. The European Union, which Turkey aspires to join, has also criticized the crackdown. The verdict came a day after another court threw out the conviction of former Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak, annulling a verdict sentencing her to two years in prison in absentia on charges of carrying out propaganda for Kurdish militants.