‘Our patience has limits’: UAE minister issues warning over Qatar ties

Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash. (AP file photo)
Updated 30 May 2017

‘Our patience has limits’: UAE minister issues warning over Qatar ties

JEDDAH: UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash has warned Qatar that patience and tolerance “have their limits.”
Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have expressed displeasure with Doha after its state media published purported remarks by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani criticizing the US-Muslim world stand against Iran at the recent Riyadh summit.
Without mentioning Qatar by name, Gargash said it should change its behavior with its neighbors and open a new page.
“The right path is through openness, credibility and confidence,” he wrote on Twitter.
“In a turbulent region, there is no alternative to Gulf unity, and Saudi Arabia is the lynchpin,” he tweeted on Friday.
He warned that the alliance of Gulf Arab states was facing a major crisis and said there was an urgent need to rebuild trust.
“The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are passing through a new sharp crisis that carries within it a great danger,” Gargash said.
“Fending off sedition lies in changing behavior, building trust and regaining credibility,” he added, without mentioning Qatar by name.
Gargash said that the road to resolving any crisis “between someone and his brothers was to have true intentions, abide by commitments, change the behavior that had caused damage and turn a new page.”
“Our position and our stability is in our unity and to have honest intentions,” he added.
Gulf countries have made no official comment on the rift, which emerged after US President Donald Trump’s first visit to Saudi Arabia and his meetings with Arab and Muslim heads of state since he took office.


Iraqi blogger returns day after kidnapping

Updated 55 min 43 sec ago

Iraqi blogger returns day after kidnapping

  • “Around 15 men wearing masks and black uniforms” took Al-Khafaji from his home, the blogger’s father said
  • Twenty-four hours later, hei was “abandoned in a street with $20 to pay for a taxi home”

BAGHDAD: A prominent Iraqi blogger resurfaced Friday a day after he was seized by masked gunmen, his father said, as Amnesty International denounced a “climate of fear” in the country after protests and deadly violence.
Shujaa Al-Khafaji’s family said armed men had snatched him from his home on Thursday without identifying themselves or showing an arrest warrant.
Khafaji’s Facebook page, Al-Khowa Al-Nadifa (Arabic for “Those Who Have Clean Hands“), carries posts on political and social issues and has some 2.5 million followers.
“Around 15 men wearing masks and black uniforms” took Khafaji from his home, the blogger’s father, Fares Al-Khafaji, told AFP.
He said they seized his son’s phones and computers, but were not violent.
Twenty-four hours later, Khafaji was “abandoned in a street with $20 to pay for a taxi home,” his father added.
The report of Khafaji’s seizure sparked an outcry from activists and influential political leaders.
Rights watchdog Amnesty International denounced a “relentless campaign of intimidation and assault against activists in Iraq” by authorities.
“The Iraqi authorities must immediately rein in the security forces and dismantle the climate of fear they have deliberately created to stop Iraqis from peacefully exercising their rights to freedoms of expression and assembly,” said Lynn Maalouf, the group’s Middle East research director.
The group said other activists, including a doctor and a lawyer, were “forcibly disappeared more than 10 days ago,” and called on Iraqi authorities to reveal their whereabouts.
Firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr wrote on Twitter that “any act of aggression (against journalists or activists)... by the state constitutes an attack on freedom of speech.”
Former prime minister Haider Al-Abadi’s parliamentary bloc called on the government “to stop abuses of free media.”
Iraq was gripped by anti-government protests between October 1 and 6, during which 110 people, mainly demonstrators, were killed in clashes with security forces.
During the protests, unidentified armed men in uniforms raided several local television stations in Baghdad, destroying their equipment and intimidating their staff.
Journalists and activists also reported receiving threats, mostly by phone, from unidentified callers accusing them of having sided with the protesters.
Khafaji faced online harassment last month after a string of attacks on bases of the Hashed Al-Shaabi, a paramilitary force dominated by pro-Iran groups.
The group on Thursday denied any involvement in the disappearance of activists, threatening legal action against anyone making such accusations.
But according to Amnesty, the Hashed was involved in at least one abduction — that of lawyer Ali Hattab, who represented protesters and was seized on October 8 in the southern city of Amara.
He was snatched by “suspected members of a faction of the Popular Mobilization Units (Hashed),” Amnesty said quoting Hattab’s relatives.
It happened two days after “two armed men from the PMU came to (his) home to warn him to stop being vocal about the killing of protesters on Facebook, otherwise they would kill him,” Amnesty added.