KSA, allies to respond to Qatar's apparent rejection of demands 'in a timely manner'

A general view of the Qatari side of the Abu Samrah border crossing with Saudi Arabia, which has remained closed since Saudi Arabia and its allies cut all diplomatic ties with Qatar. (AFP file photo)
Updated 05 July 2017

KSA, allies to respond to Qatar's apparent rejection of demands 'in a timely manner'

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain have received Qatar’s response to their collective demands for restoring relations and that they “will respond to it in a timely manner,” the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said early Wednesday.
The Saudi foreign ministry also said on Twitter that Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir received from Kuwaiti State Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah the official Qatari response, which described as “unrealistic” the list of demands.
The four countries severed ties with Qatar on June 5 and later put forward a list of 13 demands, which included Doha ending support for the extremist Muslim Brotherhood, closing broadcaster Al-Jazeera, downgrading diplomatic ties with Iran and shutting down a Turkish military base in Qatar.
They gave Qatar a further 48 hours to meet their demands after an initial 10-day deadline expired Sunday, following a request from Kuwait, which is acting as mediator in the crisis.
“The four countries received the Qatari response through the state of Kuwait before the end of the extended period. And it will be responded to at the right time,” the Saudi foreign ministry tweeted.
Foreign ministers from the four countries are due to meet in Cairo, Egypt from 1100 GMT (1 p.m. Cairo time) Wednesday to discuss their next move.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, who handed the official response to Kuwait, said the list of demands “is unrealistic and is not actionable.”
“It’s not about terrorism, it’s talking about shutting down the freedom of speech,” he said.
Riyadh and its supporters have severed air, sea and ground links with Qatar, cutting off vital routes for imports including food.
They also ordered Qatari citizens to leave their territories and took various steps against Qatari firms and financial institutions.
On Tuesday, the heads of intelligence from the four boycotting countries held a meeting in Cairo, according to Egypt’s state news agency MENA.
MENA, citing “informed sources,” did not provide details of the meeting, which took place one day before foreign ministers from the four countries were due to meet to decide whether to continue sanctions they imposed on Qatar.
(With input from AFP and Reuters)


New board of directors appointed to run Lebanon’s ‘corrupt’ state power company

Updated 08 July 2020

New board of directors appointed to run Lebanon’s ‘corrupt’ state power company

  • Regulation of electricity sector a key condition of international bailout for collapsing economy

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s government finally appointed a new board of directors on Tuesday to control the state-owned electricity company.
Electricite du Liban (EDL) has long been mired in allegations of corruption and fraud. Its annual losses of up to $2 billion a year are the biggest single drain on state finances as Lebanon faces economic collapse and the plunging value of its currency.
Reform of the electricity sector has been a key demand of the International Monetary Fund and potential donor states before they will consider a financial bailout.
“Lebanon’s electricity policy has been inefficient and ineffective for decades — always on the brink of collapse, but staying afloat with last minute patchwork solutions,” said Kareem Chehayeb of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington, DC.
“The economic crisis has made fuel imports more expensive, causing a shortage, with external generator providers hiking their prices or seeking business in Syria. It is a wake-up call to decades of overspending and poor planning of a basic public service.”
The World Bank has described the electricity sector in Lebanon as “tainted with corruption and waste,” and the IMF said “canceling the subsidy to electricity is the most important potential saving in spending.”
Electricity rationing was applied for the first time to hospitals and the law courts, but Minister of Energy Raymond Ghajar said: “The first vessel loaded with diesel for power plants has arrived, and as of Wednesday the power supply will improve.”
Prime Minister Hassan Diab promised the Lebanese people on Tuesday that they would see the results of government efforts to resolve the country’s financial chaos “in the coming weeks.”
Addressing a Cabinet meeting, Diab said: “The glimmer of hope is growing.” However, the appointment of an  EDF board of directors was criticized by opposition politicians. Former prime minister Najib Mikati said the appointments meant “the crime of wrong prevailing over right … is being repeated.”