Qatar admits having different ‘assessment’ to US on Iran threat

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said Qatar respected US policy on Iran, but added: “We have our own assessment.” (AFP/File photo)
Updated 10 June 2019

Qatar admits having different ‘assessment’ to US on Iran threat

  • Comments expected to alarm members of the Trump administration, which has beefed up America’s military presence against Tehran
  • Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani

LONDON: Qatar has its "own assessment” different to the US on policy towards Iran, the country’s foreign minister said Sunday.

The comments are expected to alarm members of the Trump administration, which has beefed up America’s military presence in the region after an increased Iranian threat. 

Qatar hosts the biggest US military base in the Middle East but has become increasingly close to Iran despite Washington viewing Tehran as the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.

Since withdrawing from the 2015 agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program, President Donald Trump has ramped up sanctions and vowed to curb Tehran’s destabilizing activities in the region.

Speaking in London, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said Qatar respected US policy on Iran, but added: “We have our own assessment.”

“There is a big pressure on Iran’s economy, but Iran lived under sanctions for 40 years. It’s never been like this but they survived. We don’t see the repetition of the same way will create a different result,” he said. “They don’t want to have a continuation of the sanctions at the same level and enter negotiations. They believe there was an agreement and US was part of the agreement.” 

Sheikh Mohammed said Qatar and other countries have been talking to both Iran and the United States about de-escalation, urging both sides to meet and find a compromise.

“We believe that at one point there should an engagement – it cannot last forever like this,” he said. “Since they are not willing to engage in further escalation, they should come up with ideas that open the doors.”

Qatar’s close ties with Iran, along with its support of extremist groups, was one of the reasons Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Gulf and Arab countries cut ties with Doha two years ago.

The comments from Qatar on a differing approach to Iran come after the US last month deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 long-range bombers to the region to tackle escalatory action by Iran.

The US has also said Iran was almost certainly behind an attack on four oil tankers, including two Saudi ships, off the coast of the UAE. 

Sheikh Mohammed also spoke about the Trump administration's impending Middle East peace deal, saying there was a disconnect between the Palestinians and the US over the blueprint.

"It cannot be a solution like, sort of, imposed on the Palestinians – no country in the Arab world can accept that," Sheikh Mohammed said, of the deal to end decades of confict with Israel.

*With Reuters


Israel records highest single-day virus tally

Updated 10 July 2020

Israel records highest single-day virus tally

  • Benjamin Netanyahu has admitted that the decision to allow businesses, including bars and event spaces, to re-open may have been made “too soon”
  • Certain towns and city neighborhoods across the country considered virus hotspots have been placed under more robust lockdowns

JERUSALEM: Israel has recorded its highest number of coronavirus infections over a 24-hour period, with nearly 1,500 new cases confirmed in the most recent daily count, the health ministry said Friday.
Israel had won early praise for its virus containment efforts, but cases have surged since a broad re-opening began in May.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted in a late Thursday news conference that the decision to allow businesses, including bars and event spaces, to re-open may have been made “too soon.”
“I take responsibility for it,” he told reporters.
From midnight (2100 GMT) on Wednesday to midnight on Thursday, the health ministry registered 1,504 new coronavirus infections — the highest single-day tally since Israel confirmed its first case on February 21.
The country of roughly nine million has now registered more than 36,000 cases, including 351 deaths.
Various restrictions have been re-imposed, including the closure of venues, clubs, bars, gyms and public pools.
Limits on the number of people allowed in restaurants and places of worship have also been reinstated.
Certain towns and city neighborhoods across the country considered virus hotspots have been placed under more robust lockdowns.
Israel’s director of public health services, Siegal Sadetzki, resigned this week, blasting her superiors for ignoring her advice and steering Israel’s virus response off course.
“Despite repeated warnings in different forums, we are watching with frustration as our window of opportunity (to contain the virus) is running out,” Sadetzki said in a Facebook post announcing her resignation.