Qatar opens new coast guard base

Qatar's coast guards take part in the inauguration ceremony of the new building of the General Directorate of Coasts and Borders Security, in northern Qatar Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 14 July 2019

Qatar opens new coast guard base

  • Commander of the US Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain attended the ceremony
  • Opening takes place amid tensions with Iran in the region's waters

SEMAISIMA, Qatar: Qatar inaugurated its largest coast guard base Sunday as a standoff between Iran and the United States continues to boost tensions in strategic Gulf waters.
Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani and commander of US Naval Forces in the Middle East Vice Admiral Jim Malloy attended the ceremony at the Al-Daayen naval base in Semaisima, 30 kilometers from Doha on Qatar’s eastern coast.
Qatar, a key US ally in the region, is home to Washington’s largest Middle East military base. But Doha has come under pressure for its close ties to Iran.
Malloy, commander of the US Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain, said the new base was “a wonderful opportunity for us to interface more strongly with the Qatari coast guard.”
Tensions in the Gulf — through which nearly a fifth of the world’s oil is transported — have spiked in recent weeks, with the US blaming Iran for multiple attacks on tanker ships in the region and Tehran shooting down an American drone.
The 600,000-plus square-meter site aims to “facilitate the securing of all territorial waters of the State and border posts,” the interior ministry wrote on Twitter.
It includes a “sophisticated seaport,” training and medical facilities, civil defense offices and operating rooms, the ministry added.
Asked whether the base could enhance US-Qatari coordination on Iran, Malloy said the move was “all about maritime security, that’s what our focus is.”
The US said Thursday it was discussing military escorts for vessels in the Gulf a day after armed Iranian boats allegedly threatened a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.
And on Friday Britain said it was sending a second warship to the Gulf and raising the alert level in the oil-rich region after Iranian gunboats threatened a UK supertanker.


Iraqi security forces raid Baghdad’s main protest camp, shoot at demonstrators

Updated 25 January 2020

Iraqi security forces raid Baghdad’s main protest camp, shoot at demonstrators

  • The clashes took place after authorities began removing concrete barriers near Tahrir Square and across at least one main bridge over the Tigris River in Baghdad
  • Security forces began the raids just hours after populist cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr said he wound halt the involvement of his supporters in the anti-government unrest

BAGHDAD: Iraqi security forces raided Baghdad’s main protest site at Tahrir Square on Saturday, firing live rounds and tear gas at anti-government demonstrators who have camped out there for months, Reuters reporters said.
There were no immediate reports of casualties but at least seven people were wounded in clashes with police earlier in the day, medics and security sources said.
The clashes took place after authorities began removing concrete barriers near Tahrir Square and across at least one main bridge over the Tigris River in Baghdad.
In the southern city of Basra, security forces raided the main anti-government sit-in overnight and deployed in force to stop protesters gathering there again, security sources said. Police arrested at least 16 protesters in Basra, they said.
The actions appeared to be an attempt to fully clear out anti-government sit-ins and end months of popular demonstrations that have called for the removal of Iraq’s entire ruling elite.
Security forces began the raids just hours after populist cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr said he wound halt the involvement of his supporters in the anti-government unrest.
Sadr had supported the demands of protesters for the removal of corrupt politicians and provision of services and jobs soon after the demonstrations began in October but stopped short of calling all his followers to join in.
Many of Sadr’s millions of supporters who hail from Baghdad’s slums have been involved in demonstrations, however.
Sadr’s followers held a march on Friday calling for a removal of US troops from the country in a rally separate from the anti-government protests. The march, which some observers expected to descend into violence, dissipated after several hours.
Sadr wrote on Twitter late on Friday that he would “try not to interfere in the issue (of protesters), either negatively or positively, so that they can shepherd the fate of Iraq.” He did not elaborate.
In Basra, protesters urged Sadr to reconsider what they said was a withdrawal of support for popular demonstrations. In a letter circulated on social media, they called for the support of Sadrists, without whom they feared attacks by security forces.