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.


White House Mideast team holds talks with Jordanian king

Keeping spirits alive Palestinian youths play with rollerblades by walls covered with graffiti at the sea port in Gaza City on Tuesday. AFP
Updated 20 June 2018
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White House Mideast team holds talks with Jordanian king

  • The US has been trying to rally support for projects to rescue Gaza’s economy, which has been weakened by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, while continuing to isolate Hamas
  • Jared Kushner’s team plans stops in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. No talks with the Palestinians are scheduled, though the Americans have left the door open to meeting with them

AMMAN: President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, kicked off a swing through the Middle East on Tuesday, meeting with Jordan’s king as part of a broader effort to lay the groundwork for an expected Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Kushner and White House envoy Jason Greenblatt held talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah, a key US ally.
A White House statement said the talks focused on US-Jordan cooperation, the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the US efforts “to “facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
US officials have said their peace plan is near completion and could be released this summer. But it faces resistance from the Palestinians, who have cut off ties since Trump recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December and moved the US Embassy in Israel to the holy city last month. The Palestinians, who seek Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital, accuse the US of siding with Israel in the most sensitive issue of their decades-long conflict.
Kushner’s team also plans stops in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. No talks with the Palestinians are scheduled, though the Americans have left the door open to meeting with them.
The Palestinians seek all of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip for an independent state. Israel captured the territories in the 1967 Mideast war. It withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and Hamas militants seized control of the territory two years later.
The US has been trying to rally support for projects to rescue Gaza’s economy, which has been weakened by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, while continuing to isolate Hamas. The US, Israel and Western allies shun Hamas as a terrorist group. Details of the plan have not been released, but Palestinians fear they will get little more than a symbolic foothold in Jerusalem. They also fear that aid to Gaza will help strengthen Hamas’ control over the territory.
Jordan also has a stake in east Jerusalem, serving as the custodian of major Muslim and Christian shrines there. Jerusalem’s walled Old City, captured and annexed by Israel in 1967, is home to Muslim, Christian and Jewish holy sites.
Abdullah has also rejected Trump’s moves in Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuses to relinquish any part of the city.
Netanyahu traveled to Amman on Monday for a surprise meeting with Abdullah, telling the king that Israel remains committed to the status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem.
Abdullah told Netanyahu that the fate of Jerusalem must be determined in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and that a solution should be based on establishing a Palestinian state, with east Jerusalem as its capital, on lands Israel captured in 1967.
Palestinian officials fear the Trump administration plan will leave them with a mini-state in the Gaza Strip, parts of the West Bank and a foothold in Jerusalem. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has said he will reject any plan being floated by the Trump team, arguing that the US has forfeited its role as mediator because of decisions seen as pro-Israel.