Qatar condemned after backtracking on Makkah summits declaration

Qatar's Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani attends the Arab summit in Makkah. (Reuters)
Updated 03 June 2019

Qatar condemned after backtracking on Makkah summits declaration

  • Qatar's foreign minister said Doha could not support the communique because it contradicted Qatar’s 'foreign policy'
  • The UAE and Bahrain accused Qatar of backtracking on what had been agreed at the meetings

JEDDAH: Qatar on Sunday said it rejected the final declaration of Arab and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summits held in Makkah last week, despite originally endorsing the statement.

Doha could not support the communique because it contradicted Qatar’s foreign policy, the Qatari foreign minister said.

Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al Jubeir, accused Qatar of distorting the facts, while the UAE and Bahrain said Doha had gone back on what had been agreed at the meetings

"Qatar had reservations today about two statements that reject Iranian interference in the affairs of the regional states, and the Arab summit’s statement confirmed the centrality of the Palestinian cause and the establishment of a Palestinian state in accordance with the borders of 67, with East Jerusalem as the capital. Everyone knows that Qatar’s distortion of the truth is not surprising," Al-Jubeir said on Twitter.

Al-Jubeir said Qatar should have made its position clear during the meeting. "Countries that make their own decisions when participating in conferences and meetings announce their positions and reservations in the context of meetings and in accordance with norms, not after the meetings," he said. 

Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said Qatar’s change of position pointed to weakness and a lack of credibility.

"It seems to me that to attend and agree in meetings then retract what was agreed upon is either the result of pressure on the vulnerable who lost their sovereignty, bad intentions or lack of credibility, and these factors could be combined," he tweeted.

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid Al-Khalifa, said the move demonstrated the weakness of Qatar’s relations with its neighbors.

In a statement, he said "Qatar’s unresponsiveness to the fair demands that were presented by our countries has led to the persistence of its crisis and prolongation."

"We have no interest in prolonging Qatar’s crisis, but it does not want a solution after it disagreed with its brothers, a matter that absolutely does not redound to the benefit of brotherly Qatari citizens who will remain an integral part of the Gulf’s society whose countries and people are linked by the unity of purpose and a shared destiny," he said. 

Qatar has been boycotted by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt since June 2017 over its support for extremist groups and for its close relations with Iran.

Despite the breakdown in relations, Saudi Arabia's King Salman invited Doha to attend emergency meetings of the GCC and Arab League last week in Makkah. The meetings were called in response to an increase in tensions with Iran.

The communique released Friday strongly condemned Iran for destabilizing the region and said Tehran “posed a direct and serious threat.”

“The statements of the Gulf and Arab summits were ready in advance and we were not consulted on them,” Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani told Al-Araby broadcaster. “Qatar has reservations on the Arab and Gulf summits because some of their terms are contrary to Doha's foreign policy.”


Iran prepares to bury killed nuclear scientist as it mulls response

Updated 30 November 2020

Iran prepares to bury killed nuclear scientist as it mulls response

  • Mohsen Fakhrizadeh died from wounds sustained in a firefight between his guards and unidentified gunmen near Tehran
  • President Hassan Rouhani has stressed the country will seek its revenge in “due time” and not be rushed into a “trap”

TEHRAN: Debate raged in Iran on Sunday over how and when to respond to a top nuclear scientist’s assassination, blamed on arch-foe Israel, as his body was honored at Shiite shrines to prepare it for burial.
Two days after Mohsen Fakhrizadeh died from wounds sustained in a firefight between his guards and unidentified gunmen near Tehran, parliament demanded a halt to international inspections of Iranian nuclear sites while a top official hinted Iran should leave the global non-proliferation treaty.
Iran’s Supreme National Security Council usually handles decisions related to the country’s nuclear program, and parliamentary bills must be approved by the powerful Guardians Council.
President Hassan Rouhani has stressed the country will seek its revenge in “due time” and not be rushed into a “trap.”
Israel says Fakhrizadeh was the head of an Iranian military nuclear program, the existence of which the Islamic republic has consistently denied, and Washington had sanctioned him in 2008 for activities linked to Iran’s atomic activities.
The scientist’s body was taken for a ceremony on Sunday at a major shrine in the holy city of Qom before being transported to the shrine of the Islamic republic’s founder Imam Khomeini, according to Iranian media.
On Monday live video from Tehran, shared by national outlet Iran Press, showed uniformed men gathering around images of Fakhrizadeh seemingly ahead of a procession.
His funeral will be held in the presence of senior military commanders and his family, the defense ministry said on its website, without specifying where.
Israel has not officially commented on Fakhrizadeh’s killing, less than two months before US President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office after four years of hawkish foreign policy under President Donald Trump.
Trump withdrew the US from a multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran in 2018 and then reimposed and beefed up punishing sanctions as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran.
Biden has signalled his administration may be prepared to rejoin the accord, but the nuclear scientist’s assassination has revived opposition to the deal among Iranian conservatives.
The head of Iran’s Expediency Council, a key advisory and arbitration body, said there was “no reason why (Iran) should not reconsider the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty.”
Mohsen Rezai said Tehran should also halt implementation of the additional protocol, a document prescribing intrusive inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilitates.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Saturday for Fakhrizadeh’s killers to be punished.
Parliament speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf called Sunday for “a strong reaction” that would “deter and take revenge” on those behind the killing of Fakhrizadeh, who was aged 59 according to Iranian media.
For Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Fakhrizadeh’s killing was clearly tied to Biden’s arrival in office.
“The timing of the assassination, even if it was determined by purely operational considerations, is a clear message to President-elect Joe Biden, intended to show Israel’s criticism” of plans to revive the deal, it said.
The UAE, which in September normalized ties with Israel, condemned the killing and urged restraint.
The foreign ministry, quoted by the official Emirati news agency WAM, said Abu Dhabi “condemns the heinous assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which could further fuel conflict in the region...
“The UAE calls upon all parties to exercise maximum degrees of self-restraint to avoid dragging the region into new levels of instability and threat to peace,” it said.
Britain, a party to the nuclear accord, said Sunday it was “concerned” about possible escalation of tensions in the Middle East following the assassination, while Turkey called the killing an act of “terrorism” that “upsets peace in the region.”
In Iran, ultra-conservative Kayhan daily called for strikes on Israel if it were “proven” to be behind the assassination.
Kayhan called for the port city of Haifa to be targeted “in a way that would annihilate its infrastructure and leave a heavy human toll.”
Iran has responded to the US withdrawal from the 2015 deal by gradually abandoning most of its key nuclear commitments under the agreement.
Rezai called on Iran’s atomic agency to take “minimum measures” such as “stopping the online broadcast of cameras, reducing or suspending inspectors and implementing restrictions in their access” to sites, ISNA news agency reported.
Iran’s parliament said the “best response” to the assassination would be to “revive Iran’s glorious nuclear industry.”
It called for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to be barred from the country’s atomic sites, said the legislature’s news agency ICANA.
Some MPs had earlier accused inspectors of acting as “spies” potentially responsible for Fakhrizadeh’s death.
But the spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy organization, Behrouz Kamalvandi, told IRNA on Saturday that the issue of inspectors’ access “must be decided on at high levels” of the Islamic republic’s leadership.