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.”


Turkey considering quitting treaty on violence against women

Updated 06 August 2020

Turkey considering quitting treaty on violence against women

  • The AKP will decide in the next week whether to initiate legal steps to pull out of the accord

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party is considering whether to pull Turkey out of an international accord designed to protect women, party officials said, alarming campaigners who see the pact as key to combating rising domestic violence.

The officials said the AKP is set to decide by next week whether to withdraw from the deal, just weeks after the vicious murder of a woman by an ex-boyfriend reignited a row over how to curb violence against women.

Despite signing the Council of Europe accord in 2011, pledging to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence and promote equality, Turkey saw 474 femicides last year, double the number seen in 2011, according to a group which monitors murders of women.

Many conservatives in Turkey say the pact, ironically forged in Istanbul, encourages violence by undermining family structures. Their opponents argue that the deal, and legislation approved in its wake, need to be implemented more stringently. The row reaches not just within Erdogan’s AKP but even his own family, with two of his children involved in groups on either side of the debate about the Istanbul Convention.

The AKP will decide in the next week whether to initiate legal steps to pull out of the accord, a senior party official told Reuters.

“There is a small majority (in the party) who argue it is right to withdraw,” said the official, who argued however that abandoning the agreement when violence against women was on the rise would send the wrong signals.

Another AKP official argued on the contrary that the way to reduce the violence was to withdraw, adding that a decision would be reached next week. The argument crystallized last month around the brutal killing of Pinar Gultekin, 27, a student in the southwestern province of Mugla, who was strangled, burned and dumped in a barrel — the latest in a growing number of women killed by men in Turkey.

Opponents of the accord say it is part of the problem because it undermines traditional values which protect society.

“It is our religion which determines our fundamental values, our view of the family,” said the Turkish Youth Foundation, whose advisory board includes the president’s son Bilal Erdogan. It called for Turkey to withdraw from the accord.

“This would really break Turkey away from the civilized world and the consequences may be very severe,” Gamze Tascier, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, told Reuters.

The Women and Democracy Association (KADEM), of which Erdogan’s daughter Sumeyye is deputy chairwoman, rejects that argument. “We can no longer talk about ‘family’... in a relationship where one side is oppressed and subject to violence,” KADEM said.

Many conservatives are also hostile to the principle of gender equality in the Istanbul Convention and see it as promoting homosexuality, given its principle of non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

Critics of the bid to withdraw from the pact say it would put Turkey further out of step with the values of the EU, which it has sought to join for decades.

“This would really break Turkey away from the civilized world and the consequences may be very severe,” Gamze Tascier, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, told Reuters.

Turkey would not be the first country to move toward ditching the accord. Poland’s highest court is to scrutinize the pact after a Cabinet member said Warsaw should quit the treaty which the nationalist government considers too liberal.

Turkish women’s groups were set to protest on Wednesday to demand better implementation of the accord, taking to the streets after an online campaign in the wake of Gultekin’s killing where they shared black-and-white selfies on Instagram.

Turkey does not keep official statistics on femicide. World Health Organization data has shown 38 percent of women in Turkey are subject to violence from a partner in their lifetime, compared to about 25 percent in Europe.

The government has taken measures such as tagging individuals known to resort to violence and creating a smartphone app for women to alert police, which has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.