Qatar is escalating diplomatic row: UAE minister Gargash

Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. (AP)
Updated 09 June 2017

Qatar is escalating diplomatic row: UAE minister Gargash

DUBAI: A senior UAE official on Thursday accused Qatar of escalating a row with its Arab neighbors by seeking help from Turkey and Iran in the dispute.
“The great escalation from the confusing and confused brother country and the request for political protection from two non-Arab countries and military protection from one of them could be a new tragic and comic chapter,” Anwar Gargash, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, wrote on Twitter, referring to Iran and Turkey.
Qatar's foreign minister rejected what he described as “interference” in his country's foreign policy, ruling out a military solution to the crisis.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said no one gave Arab nations the right to “blockade” his country, and that the campaign by Saudi Arabia and its allies to isolate Qatar is based on what he termed “false and fabricated news.”
He said Qatar would not shut down its Al-Jazeera news network, adding: “If anyone thinks they are going to impose anything on my internal affairs or my internal issues, this is not going to happen.”
He also said Qatar's emir will not leave the country while it is “in blockade,” so he cannot attend an offered mediation by US President Donald Trump at the White House.
Trump is continuing to talk to all partners in the Middle East to de-escalate tensions, a White House spokeswoman said, but gave no other details.
Meanwhile, Qatari armed forces that had been stationed in Saudi Arabia as part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen returned home on Wednesday, state television reported on its Twitter account.
In another development, the central African nation of Chad has recalled its ambassador from Qatar, joining Saudi Arabia and other nations who have moved to isolate the Gulf country over allegations it supports terrorism.
In a statement, Chad's Foreign Ministry urged countries to use dialogue to resolve the escalating dispute.
Qatar-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera said that it was under a wide-scale cyberattack, which had targeted “all systems,” according to a statement released on social media by the broadcaster.
“Al Jazeera Media Network under cyber attack on all systems, websites & social media platforms,” it said on Twitter.
Egypt, meanwhile, called for the UN Security Council to launch an investigation into accusations that Qatar paid a ransom of up to $1 billion “to a terrorist group active in Iraq” to release kidnapped members of its royal family. Qatar has denied trying to pay ransom money to secure the release of 26 Qataris, including members of the country's ruling royal family, abducted in Iraq by unidentified gunmen. The Qataris were released in April, some 18 months after they were kidnapped during a hunting trip in southern Iraq.
“It is everywhere in the news that Qatar paid up to $1 billion to a terrorist group active in Iraq in order to release members of its royal family,” senior Egyptian UN diplomat Ihab Moustafa Awad Moustafa told the Security Council.
“This violation of the Security Council resolutions, if proved correct, shall definitely have a negative bearing on counter-terrorism efforts on the ground,” he said. “We propose that the council launch a comprehensive investigation into this incident and other similar incidents.”


Will European arms ban impact Turkey’s Syria operation?

Updated 14 October 2019

Will European arms ban impact Turkey’s Syria operation?

  • Several European countries imposing weapons embargoes on Turkey

ANKARA: With an increasing number of European countries imposing weapons embargoes on Turkey over its ongoing operation in northeastern Syria, Ankara’s existing inventory of weapons and military capabilities are under the spotlight.

More punitive measures on a wider scale are expected during a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Oct. 17.

It could further strain already deteriorating relations between Ankara and the bloc.

However, a EU-wide arms embargo would require an unanimous decision by all the leaders.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned last week of a possible refugee flow if Turkey “opened the doors” for 3.6 million Syrian refugees to go to Europe — putting into question the clauses of the 2016 migration deal between Ankara and Brussels.

“The impact of EU member states’ arms sanctions on Turkey depends on the level of Turkey’s stockpiles,” Caglar Kurc, a researcher on defense and armed forces, told Arab News.

Kurc thinks Turkey has foreseen the possible arms sanctions and stockpiled enough spare parts to maintain the military during the operation.

“As long as Turkey can maintain its military, sanctions would not have any effect on the operation. Therefore, Turkey will not change its decisions,” he said.

So far, Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway have announced they have stopped weapons shipments to fellow NATO member Turkey, condemning the offensive.

“Against the backdrop of the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria, the federal government will not issue new permits for all armaments that could be used by Turkey in Syria,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Following Germany’s move, the French government announced: “France has decided to suspend all export projects of armaments to Turkey that could be deployed as part of the offensive in Syria. This decision takes effect immediately.”

While not referring to any arms embargo, the UK urged Turkey to end the operation and enter into dialogue.

Turkey received one-third of Germany’s arms exports of €771 million ($850.8 million) in 2018. 

According to Kurc, if sanctions extend beyond weapons that could be used in Syria, there could be a negative impact on the overall defense industry.

“However, in such a case, Turkey would shift to alternative suppliers: Russia and China would be more likely candidates,” he said.

According to Sinan Ulgen, the chairman of the Istanbul-based EDAM think tank and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, the arms embargo would not have a long-term impact essentially because most of the sanctions are caveated and limited to materials that can be used by Turkey in its cross-border operation.

“So the arms embargo does not cover all aspects of the arms trade between Turkey and the EU. These measures look essentially like they are intended to demonstrate to their own critical publics that their governments are doing something about what they see as a negative aspect of Turkey’s behavior,” he told Arab News.

Turkey, however, insists that the Syria operation, dubbed “Operation Peace Spring,” is undeterred by any bans or embargoes.

“No matter what anyone does, no matter if it’s an arms embargo or anything else, it just strengthens us,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told German radio station Deutsche Welle.