Qatar must shun ‘extremism’ to host World Cup, says Gargash

Anwar Gargash, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs.
Updated 10 October 2017

Qatar must shun ‘extremism’ to host World Cup, says Gargash

DUBAI: Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, said Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup should depend on it rejecting “extremism and terrorism.”
The Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) — comprising Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE — severed diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of sponsoring extremist groups.
“Qatar’s hosting of World Cup 2022 should include a repudiation of policies supporting extremism and terrorism. Doha should review its record,” Anwar Gargash, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, wrote on Twitter.
“Hosting World Cup 2022 should not be tainted by support of extremist individuals and (organizations)/terrorist figures, review of Qatar’s policies a must,” he added.
The World Cup is the centerpiece of a carefully crafted strategy to project Qatar onto the global stage via sport. In the run-up, Qatar is scheduled to host events across different sports aimed at improving infrastructure and expertise.
Egypt is the top-ranked soccer team in Africa, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE are both in Asia’s top eight.
Last month officials from the ATQ did not turn up to the draw for a Middle East soccer tournament in Doha and said they wanted to postpone the competition that could be an early test for the World Cup hosts.
Qatari officials could not be immediately reached for comment on Gargash’s remarks.
Qatar has previously said that the rift has not affected its preparations to host the tournament and that alternative sources for construction materials had been secured.
Soccer’s governing body FIFA has said it has been in regular contact with Qatar since the row erupted.
Gargash made his comments after a former Dubai police chief wrote on Twitter this week that the Gulf crisis could end if Doha forfeited hosting the World Cup.
Gargash said the official, Dhahi Khalfan, had been misunderstood in media coverage.

Egypt army drill ‘sends a message to Erdogan’

Updated 44 min 48 sec ago

Egypt army drill ‘sends a message to Erdogan’

  • Military exercise near Libyan border a ‘warning shot,’ experts say

CAIRO: A major Egyptian army exercise near the border with Libya is being viewed by military and strategic experts as a message of deterrence to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his backing for the Government of National Accord led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj and supported by militia groups.

The combat exercise, codenamed “Hasm 2020” (Firmness 2020), was carried out by Egypt’s Western Region units together with armed forces formations and special troops, including paratroops and SEAL teams.

The drills included strategic incursions by land forces and land-sea operations by troops in coastal areas of the Western Region near the border with Libya. Other exercises focused on the threat from mercenary or terror groups.

Air defense and artillery maneuvers were also carried out during the exercises, which lasted several days. 

African affairs and national security expert Gen. Mohammed Abdel-Wahed said the Hasm 2020 exercise “carries many internal and external messages of assurance to our brothers in Libya and deterrence to some regional parties.”

The drill “was a message of deterrence to anyone who thinks he can threaten Egyptian national security” and “a simulation of war,” he added.

According to an army statement, the drill’s main phase was attended by Egyptian Minister of Defense Mohamed Zaki, and included live artillery and weapons fire.

Strategic expert Gen. Samir Farag said: “What happened was not an ordinary drill because the forces attacked mercenaries. Our army always fights a regular army. What is different about this drill is training to combat mercenaries. One of the training tasks is to carry out attacks to eliminate mercenaries in cooperation with the air force.”

Farag said the drill “is a message that we will operate on the coasts if they are under threat.”

He said the Egyptian air force succeeded in providing air supplies, “meaning that we have forces capable of going anywhere.”

Farag said that the Western Region had been carefully selected as a location for the exercises.

“We closely monitor any drill carried out by any of our enemies,” he said, adding that Hasm 2020 had been studied and followed up by some countries in the region. 

Egyptian MP and journalist Mustafa Bakry said that “every Egyptian should be proud of their armed forces and their extensive preparation to counter any attack on Egypt or threaten its national security.”

Bakry said that Hasm 2020 sent “a clear message to anyone who attempts to threaten Egypt or its people.”

The Libyan cities of Sirte and Al-Jufra are a red line, he said, adding that “Egypt will never leave Libya and its brotherly people as an easy prey to the Turkish invader.”