Qatar sanctions likely to become permanent: UAE

Turkish troops seen at their military base in Doha, Qatar June 23, 2017. (Qatar News Agency/Handout via Reuters)
Updated 29 June 2017
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Qatar sanctions likely to become permanent: UAE

JEDDAH: Sanctions imposed on Qatar this month are looking increasingly likely to become permanent as the deadline to meet a set of demands laid out by its Gulf neighbors fast approaches, according to the BBC.
The small peninsular nation has been told it must stop funding terrorism — which it denies — downgrade ties with Iran, and shutdown its news organization Al Jazeera, or face permanent isolation.
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt, have given Doha until Monday, July 3, to comply with their demands, but so far it has shown no signs of backing down.
UAE Ambassador to Moscow, Omar Ghobash, conceded that Qatar was not responding “positively” to the demands.
And he explained: “I think the whole idea would be to ultimately, simply disengage from Qatar.”
But asked if this included expulsion from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), he replied: “not immediately,” but added it was under discussion.
Ghobash said he did not believe there was risk that the situation could escalate into a military conflict, or at least: “Not from our side.”
“These are relatives and friends. They have a leadership that’s decided to undermine us. We’ll cut all our ties with Qatar, economic, political and even social as a result of the flight bans.”
He explained that once the deadline past, the four Arab states would “no longer be interested in bringing Qatar back into the Gulf and the Arab fold.”
Ghobash admitted that permanent sanctions would present risks — not least, pushing Qatar further toward Iran.
But he added: “Unfortunately Qatar has been in the arms of Iran and many Sunni extremist groups for a long time… So the idea of it falling into Iran’s lap is something we accept [as a risk] but at least it will provide clarity to the region and we’ll know who our friends and enemies are.”
Turkey, which maintains a military presence in Qatar, recently airlifted in armored vehicles, and it also suggested it might deploy more troops, prompting Bahrain to accuse Qatar of “military escalation.”
Ghobash denies the current situation is mere spat between royals, adding that such a claim was a “a complete misrepresentation of the situation.”
Instead he said: This is a serious conflict and a turning point in our societies… This is a principled stand that we are taking against very powerful negative narratives of Islam being funded by countries like Qatar.”


US military to present several options to Trump on Iran

Updated 9 min 28 sec ago

US military to present several options to Trump on Iran

  • Donald Trump will also be warned that military action against the Islamic Republic could escalate into war
  • The US response could involve military, political and economic actions

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon will present a broad range of military options to President Donald Trump on Friday as he considers how to respond to what administration officials say was an unprecedented Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry.
In a White House meeting, the president will be presented with a list of potential airstrike targets inside Iran, among other possible responses, and he also will be warned that military action against the Islamic Republic could escalate into war, according to US officials familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The national security meeting will likely be the first opportunity for a decision on how the US should respond to the attack on a key Middle East ally. Any decision may depend on what kind of evidence the US and Saudi investigators are able to provide proving that the cruise missile and drone strike was launched by Iran, as a number of officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have asserted.
Iran has denied involvement and warned the US that any attack will spark an “all-out war” with immediate retaliation from Tehran.
Both Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence have condemned the attack on Saudi oil facilities as “an act of war.” Pence said Trump will “review the facts, and he’ll make a decision about next steps. But the American people can be confident that the United States of America is going to defend our interest in the region, and we’re going to stand with our allies.”
The US response could involve military, political and economic actions, and the military options could range from no action at all to airstrikes or less visible moves such as cyberattacks. One likely move would be for the US to provide additional military support to help Saudi Arabia defend itself from attacks from the north, since most of its defenses have focused on threats from Houthis in Yemen to the south.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, emphasized to a small number of journalists traveling with him Monday that the question of whether the US responds is a “political judgment” and not for the military.
“It is my job to provide military options to the president should he decide to respond with military force,” Dunford said.
Trump will want “a full range of options,” he said. “In the Middle East, of course, we have military forces there and we do a lot of planning and we have a lot of options.”
US Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Michigan, said in an interview Thursday that if Trump “chooses an option that involves a significant military strike on Iran that, given the current climate between the US and Iran, there is a possibility that it could escalate into a medium to large-scale war, I believe the president should come to Congress.”
Slotkin, a former top Middle East policy adviser for the Pentagon, said she hopes Trump considers a broad range of options, including the most basic choice, which would be to place more forces and defensive military equipment in and around Saudi Arabia to help increase security.
A forensic team from US Central Command is pouring over evidence from cruise missile and drone debris, but the Pentagon said the assessment is not finished. Officials are trying to determine if they can get navigational information from the debris that could provide hard evidence that the strikes came from Iran.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Thursday that the US has a high level of confidence that officials will be able to accurately determine exactly who launched the attacks last weekend.
US officials were unwilling to predict what kind of response Trump will choose. In June, after Iran shot down an American surveillance drone, Trump initially endorsed a retaliatory military strike then abruptly called it off because he said it would have killed dozens of Iranians. The decision underscores the president’s long-held reluctance to embroil the country in another war in the Middle East.
Instead, Trump opted to have US military cyber forces carry out a strike against military computer systems used by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to control rocket and missile launchers, according to US officials.