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.
 


Iraq’s new PM will name cabinet in two days

Updated 47 min 56 sec ago
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Iraq’s new PM will name cabinet in two days

  • Abdul Mahdi’s proposed cabinet will consist of 22 ministers and two vice-presidents. He will not have a deputy prime minister
  • All the proposed ministers are independents nominated by the political blocs in the ruling coalition

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s new Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi is putting the finishing touches to his first cabinet and will submit the names to parliament for approval in the next two days.

All the proposed ministers are independents nominated by the political blocs in the ruling coalition, and none is a current or former member of parliament, leading party negotiators told Arab News on Sunday.

The Shiite coalition was formed last month after lengthy negotiations following parliamentary elections in May. It comprises the Reform alliance sponsored by the influential Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, and the Iranian backed Al-Binna’a led by Hadi Al-Amiri, commander of the Badr Organization, the most powerful Shiite armed faction.

Abdul Mahdi’s proposed cabinet will consist of 22 ministers and two vice-presidents. He will not have a deputy prime minister. Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and minorities must all be represented, under Iraq’s constitution. In addition, an unwritten rule requires that ministerial posts and high government positions be filled according to the distribution of parliamentary seats.

Negotiators told Arab News that Abdul Mahdi’s ministers for oil, transport, health, electricity, higher education and water will come from the Reform alliance; ministers for the interior, foreign affairs, communication, housing and construction, and labor and industry will be from Al-Binna’a; Sunnis will be ministers for defense, planning, trade, education, agriculture and youth; and the ministers of finance, justice and immigration will be Kurds. 

“The final names have not been revealed yet,” a Reform negotiator told Arab News. “We presented four names for each post and we are waiting for Abdul Mahdi to present his final list on Monday.”

The coalition will support Abdul Mahdi for one year. “The veto imposed by Sadr and Amiri on any current or former parliamentarians to be a minister has embarrassed everyone and pushed them to change their plans,” an Al-Binna’a negotiator said.

“A year is enough to see if Abdul Mahdi has formed a harmonious team and whether his team will succeed, so it’s fair enough for all parties.”