Controversy surrounds Qatari Emir’s UK visit

Banners appeared over prominent roads in London with the hashtag #OpposeQatarVisit. (AN Photo)
Updated 23 July 2018
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Controversy surrounds Qatari Emir’s UK visit

  • Emir Tamim’s speech in Parliament is likely to praise his country’s relations with the UK
  • Arab activists in London said they’ve prepared a special welcome for the Emir

LONDON: Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani arrived in the United Kingdom on Sunday for a visit that is already mired in controversy, with activists planning to demonstrate outside Parliament on Monday against Qatar’s continued support for terrorism across the Middle East region.
Meanwhile, banners over prominent roads in London, with the hashtag #OpposeQatarVisit, asked: “If a country was accused of paying $1 billion in a ransom to terrorist groups… then why is the UK government rolling out the red carpet for the Qatar Emir?”
The schedule of the Qatar Emir’s visit was not disclosed officially by the UK government, but sources told Arab News that his official engagements will start Monday morning with a meeting with UK businessmen and later in the day, he is due to make a speech in Parliament. His meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May and other members of the UK government will take place on Tuesday.

Sources said that his speech in Parliament is likely to praise his country’s special relations with the UK and to condemn the year-old boycott imposed on his country by the Anti-Terror Quartet (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE) due to Doha’s continued support of terrorism and terrorist organizations in the Middle East and beyond.
Arab activists in London said that they have prepared a special welcome for the Qatari Emir, calling for a noisy demonstration outside Parliament on Monday afternoon. The call to demonstrate against his visit was widely distributed via social media, with videos of people interviewed on the streets of London calling into question Qatar hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022. “I can’t imagine it’s for the good of the sport or for inclusivity,” says one man. “It’s just not fair that it’s happening in Qatar,” says another.
The demonstration will take place after several recent stories have drawn Londoners’ attention to Qatar’s actions. Most recently, the BBC revealed new evidence that a $1-billion ransom Doha paid for the release of 28 Qataris kidnapped in Iraq was used to fund terror.
Also this month, it was revealed that Abdullah bin Khalid Al-Thani, a former Qatari interior minister linked to financing and promoting terrorism who had briefly been confined to house arrest, had recently re-emerged in Doha, where he was photographed signing a wall portrait of Sheikh Tamim. And last month, the UK Parliament launched an investigation into the Arab Organization for Human Rights in the UK, a shadowy group with alleged ties to Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, after the videotaping of an event apparently breached parliamentary rules.

Ghassan Ibrahim, a London-based political analyst, said that members of Parliament as well as the UK government must review their position on Qatar. “If they have to meet with the Qatari Emir, they have to ask the important questions, especially the ones concerning Doha’s sponsor of terrorism and its ransom payment of $1.2 billion to terror groups in Iraq to liberate several members of the ruling Qatari family on a hunting trip in Iraq.
“The UK must also ask the Emir of Qatar questions about Doha’s continued financial, political and military support for the Al-Nusra Front and other extremists groups in Syria,” Ibrahim added, pointing out that Qatar continues to go against the international community’s stance to increase pressure on Tehran so that it stops meddling in the internal affairs of its neighbors.
Ibrahim told Arab News that it is “common knowledge that Doha has been supporting extremists groups and organizations that refuse integration in their respective host countries in the West, and Doha provides material help and funds for groups that are bent on dividing societies.”
The Emir of Qatar’s UK visit, Ibrahim added, is unlikely to change the Gulf country’s stance on promoting and funding terror, nor is it likely that Doha will change course and alienate itself from Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and other terror groups.
The Anti-Terror Quartet, which was established over a year ago, has been calling on Qatar to severe its relations with terror groups, and to stop giving financial and media support for the promotion of violent rhetoric and acts across the region.


Israel joins US, others in rejecting UN migration pact

The UN’s Global Compact for Migration is set to be adopted during a conference in Morocco on December 10-11. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)
Updated 12 min 18 sec ago
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Israel joins US, others in rejecting UN migration pact

  • The US quit talks on the pact last December
  • Its final text was agreed in July after 18 months of negotiations and lays out 23 objectives to open up legal migration

JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday Israel would join the US and other countries in rejecting a UN migration pact set to be adopted in December.

“I have instructed the Foreign Ministry to announce that Israel will not accede to, and will not sign, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

“We are committed to guarding our borders against illegal migrants. This is what we have done and this is what we will continue to do.”

The UN’s Global Compact for Migration, aimed at boosting cooperation to address the world’s growing number of migrants, is set to be adopted during a conference in Morocco on December 10-11.

Its final text was agreed in July after 18 months of negotiations and lays out 23 objectives to open up legal migration and better manage migratory flows as the number of people on the move worldwide has increased to 250 million, or 3 percent of the world’s population.

The US quit talks on the pact last December, Hungary's anti-immigration Prime Minister Viktor Orban rejected it in July and Austria followed suit in October.

The Czech Republic said it will reject the pact and Bulgaria last week said it might follow suit.

Israel’s government has come under political pressure over the presence of some 42,000 African migrants, mainly from Eritrea and Sudan, and has sought to expel many of them.

Most of the migrants arrived in Israel after 2007, mainly through Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Security along the once porous border has since been significantly tightened with the construction of a barrier fence.

Many of the migrants settled in poor neighborhoods in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, the country’s economic capital.