Qatar made $200m in ransom payments to terror groups, report claims

Updated 01 December 2017
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Qatar made $200m in ransom payments to terror groups, report claims

LONDON: A new report from the Henry Jackson Society claims extremist groups Al-Nusra and Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham have received as much as $200 million in ransoms paid or facilitated by Qatar.

The report coincides with a visit by British Prime Minister Theresa May to the region this week where she highlighted the importance of combating the threat of groups from Hezbollah to Daesh.

“The report raises some troubling questions about Qatar’s regional policies,” said Kyle Orton, author and research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society.

“Despite finding that in a number of areas Qatar has made significant improvements over time, it shows that the effects of prior policies— notably in Syria and Libya— will be lasting and deleterious.

“There is still progress to be made in terms of cracking down on terror finance from Qatar and the use of its state-run media as a platform for incitement and the dissemination of extremism.”

Though Qatar has for some time positioned itself as a mediator and safe-haven for dissidents, it also hosts a number of terrorist organizations such as Hamas and the Taliban, the report found.

It recommends that while Britain should avoid publicly taking sides in the broader dispute between the Gulf states, Downing Street should use its influence in the region to press for changes in Qatar’s ransom payments policy, the appearance of extremists on state-run media and make major improvements in human rights.

The Anti-Terror Quartet — comprising Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — cut links with Qatar in early June over allegations it supports extremists. Qatar denies the claim.
 


Iraqi police arresting protesters in the south — activists

Updated 16 July 2018
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Iraqi police arresting protesters in the south — activists

  • The government rushed to contain the protests with promises of thousands of jobs, mainly in the oil sector
  • Basra is home to about 70 percent of Iraq’s proven oil reserves of 153.1 billion barrels

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces in the southern oil-rich province of Basra have started arresting protesters who took part in the week-long demonstrations there to demand more jobs and better services, activists said Monday.
Protests in the city of Basra, the provincial capital and Iraq’s second-largest city, are not unusual in scorching summer weather but they boiled over last Tuesday, when security forces opened fire, killing one person and wounding five.
Within days the rallies spread to other provinces. In some places, protesters broke into local government buildings and burned the offices of some political parties.
The government rushed to contain the protests with promises of thousands of jobs, mainly in the oil sector, and an urgent allocation of 3.5 trillion Iraqi dinars ($3 billion) for electricity and water projects. It blamed “infiltrators” for the damages.
The arrests started on Sunday night, with police chasing protesters down main roads and alleys following demonstrations in the city of Basra, and also in the countryside and around oil fields, two activists told The Associated Press.
The activists could not give a specific number for those arrested, saying only “hundreds.” They spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety. Officials were not immediately available to comment.
The activists said Internet was back on after a two-day shutdown, but a heavy deployment of security forces outside the local government building in Basra prevented protesters from gathering there Monday.
Police also closed off surrounding streets with barbed wire.
Meanwhile, authorities reopened the country’s second-busiest airport, in the city of Najaf, following a two-day shutdown after a mob broke into the facility on Friday, damaging the passenger terminal and vandalizing equipment.
Transportation Minister Kadhim Finjan Al-Hamai was at the Najaf airport to announce the reopening on the Iraqi state TV as an Iraqi Airways plane landed behind him. He said 18 local and international flights were to land on Monday.
The shutdown had caused “heavy losses” to the government, the airport and airline companies, he said without elaborating.
Kuwait Airways, the Royal Jordanian and Iran’s Aviation Authority suspended their flights to Najaf on Sunday, citing security concerns. The United Arab Emirates’ FlyDubai canceled Saturday’s flights to Najaf and said it was suspending its flights until July 22.
Iraq’s vital Um Qasr port on the Arabian Gulf, and two main border crossings — Safwan with Kuwait and Shalamcheh with Iran — were closed to both passengers and goods as protesters had blocked the main roads leading to the sites.
Basra is home to about 70 percent of Iraq’s proven oil reserves of 153.1 billion barrels. It is located on the Arabian Gulf bordering Kuwait and Iran, and is Iraq’s only hub these days for all oil exports to the international market.