Eritrea sides with Gulf nations against Qatar

A picture of the entrance to a terminal hall at the Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, on Monday. Eritrea has thrown its support behind Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, which have suspended ties with Qatar over the emirate's alleged support for extremists, banning all flights to and from the capital Doha and shutting down the offices of the country's national carrier. (AFP / KARIM JAAFAR)
Updated 13 June 2017

Eritrea sides with Gulf nations against Qatar

DOHA, Qatar: Eritrea has expressed support for Saudi Arabia and its allies after they cut ties with Qatar.
The Eritrean Information Ministry’s statement of support on Monday came despite its previously close ties with energy-rich Qatar.
The statement said the initiative by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates “is not confined to Qatar alone as the potential of Qatar is very limited,” but is “one initiative among many in the right direction that envisages full realization of regional security and stability.”
The three countries along with Bahrain cut ties to Qatar last week over alleged Qatari support for Islamic extremists. Along with Bahrain, they have moved to block air, land and sea routes to the energy-rich Gulf nation.
Both Saudi and Qatari officials appear to be seeking support from Ethiopia. Qatari officials met Monday with Ethiopia’s prime minister and Saudi officials visited the Ethiopian capital over the weekend.
Qatar has remained defiant as the dispute worsened, Its foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, is welcoming diplomatic efforts to calm the standoff, but insists that no one can dictate its foreign policy.
Al Thani said Monday that Qatar is in contact with international aviation authorities and legal organizations as it tries to fight back against moves by Saudi Arabia and its allies to cut off its land, air and sea access.
Speaking after diplomatic meetings in Paris, Al Thani said Qatar is ready to negotiate anything “related to the collective security of the Gulf countries” but insisted that Qatari foreign policy is not open to debate.
He also said “no one has the right” to pressure Qatar to silence TV network Al Jazeera, which is based in Doha.
Al Thani has visited multiple European countries in recent days seeking diplomatic support.

US accuses Turkey of war crimes in Syria

Updated 12 min 52 sec ago

US accuses Turkey of war crimes in Syria

  • Trump’s envoy demands explanation from Ankara of possible use of illegal white phosphorus munitions during the Turkish invasion
  • Envoy also expresses concerns about anti-Assad fighters backed by Turkish forces.

JEDDAH: The US demanded an explanation from Ankara on Wednesday for what it described as “war crimes” committed during Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria.

President Donald Trump’s special envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, said there were concerns about anti-Assad fighters backed by Turkish forces.

“Many people fled because they’re very concerned about these Turkish-supported Syrian opposition forces, as we are. We’ve seen several incidents which we consider war crimes,” the envoy told a House of Representatives hearing.

He said the US was also investigating the possible use of illegal white phosphorus munitions during the Turkish invasion, and wanted an explanation from Turkey’s government “at a high level.”

Jeffrey described Turkey’s invasion to drive Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters out of the border area as “a tragic disaster for northeast Syria.”

Meanwhile Russian military police began patrols on the Syrian border on Wednesday, following an agreement on Tuesday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Kremlin told Kurdish fighters to pull back or face being attacked again by Turkish forces.

“It’s quite obvious that if the Kurdish units don’t withdraw with their weapons then Syrian border guards and Russian military police will have to step back. And the remaining Kurdish units will be steamrolled by the Turkish army,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

In Washington, Trump said a US-negotiated cease-fire between Turkey and the Kurds would be permanent, and he lifted US sanctions on Ankara. “We’ve saved the lives of many, many Kurds,” he said.

Turkey considers the YPG terrorists because of their links to PKK insurgents in Turkey. It has demanded they retreat from the entire border region, creating a 30-km-deep “safe zone” where Turkey could also settle some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees on its soil.

The new agreement allows Turkey to control that area. On Wednesday, Turkish-backed Syrian fighters in Ras Al-Ain unfurled their flag on top of the Kurdish fighters’ former HQ.