Pro-Iran, pro-terror group's comments attributed to Qatari Emir sparks GCC outrage

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
Updated 24 May 2017

Pro-Iran, pro-terror group's comments attributed to Qatari Emir sparks GCC outrage

JEDDAH: An outpour of criticism was unleashed via social and traditional media outlets in the Gulf after the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) carried comments attributed to the nation's Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, said to have been made at a graduation ceremony of the national service (military conscription) where he has endorsed Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.
He also reportedly spoke of "tensions" with the new US administration and predicted the President Donald J. Trump will not last long, citing domestic political problems in Washington over ties with Russia.
Al-Thani also seems to have praised Iran which even the previous US administration under President Obama labeled as the "biggest state sponsor of terror" as an "Islamic power" and a source of stability in the region.
“There is no wisdom in harboring hostility towards Iran,” he said.
Despite the emir allegedly Saying that the relations with Israel are “good,” he went on to describe Hamas — which is designated as a terrorist organization by the US, EU and Israel and is condemned even by Arab countries for firing missiles towards civilians — as the "official representative of Palestinians."
Hamas — either in whole or in part — is regarded as a terrorist organization by several countries and international organizations, most notably by Israel, US and EU.
Despite this endorsement of Hamas, the Emir seems to have still refuted allegations of his country supporting terror, yet Doha is infamous for supporting both Lebanon's Hezbollah and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which is designated a terrorist group by fellow GCC countries.
He reportedly also criticized the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt for waging a campaign against Doha. All three counties are fierce critics of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, he seems to have not mentioned Saudi Arabia by name.
He did seem however to criticize what he described as "exaggerated" recent arms deals and said that countries should be spending that money on development projects, an apparent attack on the recent enormous Saudi-US arms deals signed in Riyadh during President Trump's visit.
The Emir is said to have credited Al-Udeid Air Base, which houses the biggest US Air Force base in the region, with protecting Doha from some neighboring countries, without mentioning any names but some experts believe he may have meant a fellow GCC country.
A few hours after the controversial statements broke on QNA, the government's communication team tried to downplay them saying that the news agency's website was hacked. However, the report was simultaneously posted in different languages and social media platforms, where they remained. The comments also go in line with recent criticism waged against the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in other state-sponsored media outlets such as Al-Jazeera, Al-Arab and the London-based Middle East Eye.


Lebanon president to chair crisis talks over weekend violence

Updated 8 min 52 sec ago

Lebanon president to chair crisis talks over weekend violence

  • The meeting will touch on “security developments” in the country
  • Lebanon has been without a government since outgoing prime minister Saad Hariri resigned on October 29

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s under-fire president is set to meet Monday with top security officials to discuss rare violence over the weekend that left hundreds wounded in the protest-hit country.

Michel Aoun will be joined by the care-taker ministers of the interior and defense as well as the chiefs of the military and security agencies in the early afternoon, his office said in a statement.

The meeting will touch on “security developments” in a country rocked since October 17 by unprecedented protests against a political class deemed incompetent, corrupt and responsible for an ever-deepening economic crisis.

It will also address “measures that need to be taken to preserve peace and stability,” the state-run National News agency (NNA) reported.

Demonstrators at the weekend lobbed stones, firecrackers and street signs at riot police, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets to clear a flashpoint road near parliament.

Over the most violent weekend in three months of street protests, some 530 were wounded on both sides, according to a toll compiled by AFP from figures provided by the Red Cross and Civil Defense.

Lawyers and rights groups have condemned the “excessive” and “brutal” use of force by security forces.

Human Rights Watch accused riot police of “launching tear gas canisters at protesters’ heads, firing rubber bullets in their eyes and attacking people at hospitals and a mosque.”

Internal Security Forces, for their part, have urged demonstrators to abstain from assaulting riot police and damaging public or private property.
Protesters had called for a week of “anger” over the political leadership’s failure to form a new government even as the debt-ridden country sinks deeper into a financial crisis.

Lebanon has been without a government since outgoing prime minister Saad Hariri resigned on October 29 in the face of popular pressure.

Political factions agreed on December 19 to appoint former education minister Hassan Diab as the new premier but have since squabbled over ministerial posts and portfolios.

Protesters have demanded a new government be comprised solely of independent experts, and exclude all established political parties.

The United Nations’ envoy to Lebanon pinned the blame for the violence on politicians.

“Anger of the people is understandable, but it is different from vandalism of political manipulators, that must be stopped,” Jan Kubis wrote on Twitter on Saturday.