Arab countries’ decisions led by Saudi Arabia are founded on ‘baseless’ allegations, Qatar foreign ministry says.
Here are the latest developments:
Al Udeid base
- On August 2, Qatari Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah visited Washington to meet with the US Department of Defense to discuss the upcoming expansion of a major US base in Qatar, and the strategic military partnership between both countries.
- On July 24, al-Attiyah laid the foundation stone for the expansion project of Al Udeid base where roughly 11,000 US military personnel are stationed.
- The ceremony was also attended by US Army Brigadier-General Jason Armagost, commander of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Udeid.
- The planned expansion will include construction of additional housing facilities and service buildings.
Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of State for Defense Affairs @kbmalattiya visited Washington this week to meet with @LindseyGrahamSC, @RoyBlunt , and the @DeptofDefense to discuss Al-Udeid Air Base, its upcoming expansion, and the #QatarUSA strategic military partnership #AUAB pic.twitter.com/AnY2bPEaL8
— Qatar Embassy USA (@QatarEmbassyUSA) August 2, 2018
- On August 1, Qatar’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs refuted claims that Qatar was preventing its nationals from going to Mecca for Hajj, a pilgrimage that Muslims worldwide are expected to make at least once in their lifetime if they are able to.
- The ministry lamented the use of Hajj for political ends and said it was in contact with Saudi authorities to eliminate all obstacles for Qatari nationals and residents willing to partake in this year’s event, set to begin on August 19.
- The governor of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia for his part said on Wednesday that Qatari pilgrims have yet to arrive. “No pilgrims from Qatar arrived until today,” Governor Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud said.
- In June, last year, Saudi Arabia and three other Arab nations barred Qatari nationals from their countries and set up a blockade to prevent goods from entering the Gulf emirate.
- On August 1, the investigative news website The Intercept revealed that former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stopped Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from attacking Qatar in June 2017.
- According to the publication, the plan involved Saudi ground troops crossing the land border into Qatar, and with military support from the UAE, advancing 100km inland and seizing the Qatari capital.
- However, after Tillerson was notified of the plan by Qatari intelligence officials, he reportedly urged Saudi Arabia’s King Salman not to carry out the attack and also encouraged Defense Secretary James Mattis to explain the dangers of such an invasion to his counterparts in the kingdom, it said.
- Tillerson, a former executive for the energy company Exxon, repeatedly criticised the blockading countries for the crisis, and in October last year, accused them of heightening tensions.
US wants to ‘build momentum’ for Gulf crisis summit
- The United States is looking to “build some momentum” towards resolving the Gulf crisis ahead of a possible summit in the autumn, a US diplomat said on July 24.
- “We want to build to a point where there will be a meeting of all of the heads of state … it might be September or it might be October”, Ryan Gliha, US charge d’affaires to Qatar, told journalists.
- The US will “try to build some momentum” ahead of the summit to make it a “big success” when President Donald Trump calls Gulf leaders together, the charge d’affaires added.
- Gliha did not specify a venue for the proposed initiative.
- In late May, Kuwait’s deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah told AFP a summit between the US and Gulf nations would be “an opportunity to put an end to the crisis”.
- Kuwait has attempted to mediate the spat between Doha and its Gulf peers.
- On July 23, reports started circulating revealing that a casting agency in the UK offered actors $25 to take part in an “anti-Qatar event” outside a meeting between Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
- “This is NOT a film or TV production,” casting agency Extra People said in an email to their actors.
- “The company are looking for a large group of people to fill space outside Downing Street during the visit of the president of Qatar (sic). This is an ANTI-Qatar event – You will not have to do or say anything, they just want to fill space. You will be finished at 12:30.”
- The casting agency later retracted the advert and said that they did not want to be involved. “As soon as we as a company became aware that it was a political demonstration, we immediately withdrew wanting no further part in this,” Tom Walker, the company director of Extra People, told Al Jazeera.
Qatar takes UAE to UN court
- On July 23, the United Nations’ top court issued a provisional ruling, saying that measures put in place by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of its boycott against Qatar amount to racial discrimination
- The UAE was ordered by the highest UN court to immediately allow Qatari families to reunite, imposing a measure before it hears in full a discrimination case filed by Qatar.
- They also said that students should be given the opportunity to complete their studies in the UAE or to retain records of their studies to allow them to continue their education elsewhere, and Qataris should be allowed access to judicial services in the country.
- Last month, on June 15, Qatar filed a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing the UAE of violating international laws by expelling thousands of Qataris – many of whom have family or own property in the UAE – and closing UAE airspace and seaports to Qatar.
- Qatar’s move came a year after the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade ties with it, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the allegations.
France calls for diplomatic solution to Gulf crisis
- French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a diplomatic solution to the Gulf crisis during a meeting with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in France’s capital, Paris.
- “Qatar suffers daily from the measures that have been taken, families have been separated because of the crisis. We talked about the crisis and we agree that it must be solved through dialogue,” Macron told reporters after Friday’s meeting.
- For his part, the Qatari emir thanked Macron for France’s support in the crisis, adding that the bond between the countries are very important.
- “I’d like to thank the president for the stance he’s taken for a year now. Since the Gulf Crisis began, he has always been by the side of Qatar and has always pushed for dialogue between all the parties,” the emir said.
- Sheikh Tamim also said his country has not reached a deal yet over the purchase of Russia’s most advanced air defenve missile system, after French newspaper Le Monde reported that Qatar might be on the verge of buying the S-400 missile system.
- Qatar’s neighbour Saudi Arabia has reportedly been lobbying hard to try to stop the acquisition.
- Both Macron and Sheikh Tamim reiterated their countries’ efforts to cooperate on economic, social and cultural levels.
- On June 14, US President Donald Trump and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani held a phone conversation, according to a White House statement.
- The two leaders discussed ongoing cooperation between both states and the importance of Gulf unity to mitigate regional security threats.
- On April 29, during a visit to Saudi Arabia, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for unity in the Gulf region.
- In advance of Pompeo’s visit, US officials told reporters the secretary of state would urge Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and King Salman to resolve the Gulf crisis in a series of meetings.
- On April 23, US Ambassador to Kuwait Lawrence Silverman said Trump was eager to find a “quick and final” solution to the Gulf crisis.
- There have been contacts between US and Gulf officials over the crisis, he told Kuwait state news agency KUNA, and he affirmed the “unity” of the six was important amid huge security challenges.
- On June 9, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker said Qatar Airways has been impacted by the blockade, “it increased our flying time, and put pressure on [our] operational cost, but it did not stop the will and our determination to keep on our part of growth.”
- Losses: On Wednesday, April 25, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker told reporters that the airline has made a “substantial” loss in its financial year because of the regional dispute.
- Acquisitions: On April 10, Qatar Airways bought a minority stake in JetSuite, a US private aviation company, potentially expanding the semi-private model across the US.
- On February 20, Italian airline Meridiana changed its name to Air Italy with the backing of its new shareholder, Qatar Airways. The airline aims to become Italy’s flagship carrier, as UAE-backed Alitalia filed for bankruptcy.
- The blockading countries have targeted Qatar Airways by forbidding it from using their airspace, but it has found alternative routes and expanded its travel network with new international partnerships.
- On June 6, NATO threw cold water on Qatar’s ambitions to become a full member of the Trans-Atlantic alliance.
- “According to Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, only European countries can become members of NATO,” an official of the 29-country alliance told AFP news agency.
- The comment came after Qatari Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah said in an interview with Altalaya mazine that Qatar wants full membership. “We are a main ally from outside NATO … the ambition is full membership if our partnership with NATO develops and our vision is clear,” he told the official magazine of the Qatari Defence Ministry.
- On March 7, NATO and Qatar signed a military agreement that will allow NATO forces to enter and transit the country and use Qatar’s Al Udeid Air Base, according to a written statement from the alliance.
- The deal came as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg received Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at the headquarters in Brussels.
- Earlier in January, Qatar and NATO signed a security agreement for the for the exchange of classified information.
Saudi Arabia – Qatar
- On June 4, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani dismissed reports of threats of military action by Saudi Arabia over Doha’s plans to acquire the Russian-made S-400 air defence system.
- Al Thani said Qatar’s decision to purchase weapons is a “sovereign” one. The reported threat, he said, violated “international law” and the “GCC charter”
- On June 3, an Al Jazeera investigation revealed that the breach of Qatar News Agency (QNA) can be attributed to a Saudi piracy cell.
- According to the investigation the piracy cell worked from within a leading Saudi ministry in the capital, Riyadh.
- On June 1, French daily Le Monde reported that Saudi Arabia threatened military action against Qatar if it acquires the Russian-made S-400 air defence system.
- In a letter addressed to President Emmanuel Macron, Saudi King Salman expressed his “profound concern” with talks under way between Moscow and Doha for the sale of the advanced anti-aircraft weapon system.
- “[In such a situation], the Kingdom would be ready to take all the necessary measures to eliminate this defence system, including military action,” King Salman was quoted as saying in the letter, whose content Le Monde obtained via a source close to Elysee Palace.
- On June 4, Qatar’s Chairman of National Human Rights Committee Ali bin Samikh al-Marri urged the “free world” to “condemn and fight the blockade imposed on Qatar”.
- During a press conference in the Qatari capital Doha, Marri said Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE – which cut ties with Qatar -had taken their “irresponsible and illegal actions” and imagined there was “no system of international laws and principles that could stop and deter them”.
- “We will continue our moves until the injustice is lifted and we will spare no effort to hold these countries responsible and criminally liable,” he said.
- On May 13, Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NCHR) condemned the arrest of Nawaf Talal Rashid who according to the organisation was arrested by Saudi Arabian authorities.
- According to the complaint, Rashid’s family was in touch with him when he was in Kuwait but they lost contact with him on May 13.
- Talking to Al Jazeera, the NCHR said Rashid was later handed over to Saudi Arabian authorities by Kuwait, and his current whereabouts are unknown.
- On May 2, the NCHR condemned the arrest without charges of Mohsen Saleh Saadoun al-Karbi, a Qatari citizen, at Yemen’s Shahn border on April 21, during his visit to family.
Russia – Qatar
- On June 2, a senior Russian politician said Moscow plans to supply an advanced aerial defense system to Qatar despite Saudi Arabia‘s reported opposition.
- “Russia seeks its own interest, supplying S-400 to Qatar and earning money for the state budget. Saudi Arabia’s position has nothing to do with it, Russia’s plans will not change,” Aleksei Kondratyev, the deputy chairman of the committee on Defence and Security was quoted as saying by Sputnik on Saturday.
- On March 26, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
- Also on Monday, Qatar Airways announced plans to buy a minority stake in Russia’s Vnukovo Airport, the third-largest in the Moscow area by passenger numbers.
- On February 7, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani met the president of the Russian Republic of Ingushetia, Yunus-bek Yevkurov, in Doha.
- President Yevkurov had delivered a written message from Putin, including an invitation to visit Russia.
Qatar bans Saudi, UAE goods from stores
- On May 27, Qatar ordered shops to remove goods originating from a group of Saudi Arabian-led countries.
- A directive from the economy ministry ordered shops to immediately strip shelves of products from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. Inspectors will visit stores to ensure they comply with the order.
- The government will also try and stop products such as Saudi dairy goods from entering Qatar via a third country. Qatar’s Government Communications Office said it was trying to “protect the safety of consumers.”
- “Products originating from blockading states, which as a result of the blockade cannot pass the GCC customs territory, has to undergo proper import inspections and customs procedures,” GCO said in a statement.
Bahrain sees ‘no glimmer of hope’
- On May 27, Bahrain’s foreign minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa accused Qatar of prolonging the crisis by taking its case to Western allies, instead of dealing with it inside the Gulf Arab bloc.
- “We were expecting from the beginning of the crisis with Qatar that the emir of Qatar would go to Saudi, but this did not happen,” he told the newspaper.
- “The information in our hands today does not indicate any glimmer of hope for a solution now, as the matter does not happen suddenly,” Bahrain’s Foreign Minister told Alsharq Alawsat newspaper.
Australia – Qatar
- On May 22, Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani Qatar’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce met with Australian Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud.
- They reviewed bilateral relations and discussed aspects of joint cooperation, especially in the field of economic, trade and investment.
- According to local media, there are 144 Australian companies operating in Qatar, of which 15 are wholly owned by Australians, while 129 are joint venture companies with Australian-Qatari capital.
- The companies are engaged in the fields of trade, contracting, construction, engineering consultancy, marine services, food trade, and others.
- On May 22, AP reported that one of Trump’s top fundraisers, and George Nader, an adviser to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, advanced the agenda of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates at the highest levels of the US government.
- Their goal was to persuade Washington to crack down on Qatar, even though Qatar is a US ally that hosts critical military assets.
- The AP report is based on interviews with more than two dozen people and hundreds of pages of leaked emails.
- On May 16, Qatar National Bank reported that the country’s current account surplus widened to 6.4 percent of GDP in the fourth quarter in line with higher oil prices while the financial account deficit narrowed.
- However, fiscal account remained in deficit but should recover subsequently as revenue rises in line with higher oil prices.
- On May 13 Khamis al Mohannadi, a senior official of the Ministerial Group for the Encouragement and Participation of the Private Sector said the sale of Qatari products had increased 300 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared with the same period in 2017.
- Local dairy companies are working to increase their production to cover the needs of the local market, adding that 92 percent of local demand for milk will be met by these firms by the end of the first half of this year.
- On May 7, the Ministry of Finance reported that Qatar is estimated to go from a deficit of 1.6 percent of its GDP in 2017 to a surplus of 2.8 percent of GDP in 2018. This is based in the Economic Outlook Brief to be released by the IMF in May 14.
- Bonds: On April 12, Qatar raised $12bn from its first bond issuance on the international market since 2016, a few days after Saudi Arabia raised $11bn in bonds.
- “The overall success of the issue clearly reflects the strength of the Qatari economy and the confidence the state enjoys from international investors,” a Qatari official said.
- Investigation: On March 17, Qatar’s central bank asked US regulators to investigate the US subsidiary of a UAE-owned bank for engaging in “bogus” foreign exchange deals intended to undermine the Qatari riyal and harm its economy.
- On May 15, local media reported that Greece is to share its agro-tech expertise in support of Qatar’s self-sufficiency plans.
- Panagiotis Mihalos, the chairman of the Greece-Qatar Business Council, said Qatar’s self-sufficiency efforts have placed food security on the spotlight.
- “In line with the Qatar government’s efforts towards food security and achieving self-sufficiency, I hope we can play a role in all of this,” Mihalos told Gulf Times in an interview.
- On May 10, Special Envoy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Combating Terrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani, stressed that Qatar is making “strong efforts in the fight against terrorism”.
- Al-Qahtani chaired Qatar’s delegation in a meeting that was held in Kuwait with the participation of all GCC countries and the US.
- He said that the country actively participated in the meeting, which aimed to “coordinate joint disruptive actions”, and, “offer support to countries in the region that need assistance building capacity to counterterror funding threats”.
- On May 8, Saad al-Kaabi Qatar Petroleum CEO, said the company will push ahead with its production expansion despite the blockade.
- Qatar is one of the most influential players in the global liquefied natural gas (LNG) market due to its annual production of 77 million tonnes.
- On April 24, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that “Qatar must pay for the US military forces’ in Syria, and send its military forces there before the US president denies US protection for Qatar.”
- Al Jubeir’s remarks came after US President Donald Trump repeated earlier calls on the “immensely wealthy” countries in the region to step up their financial and military involvement in the region, in lieu of the US.
- “They wouldn’t be there except for the United States. They wouldn’t last a week. We are protecting them. They have to now step up, and pay for what is happening,” Trump said.
- Earlier in April, Trump announced his intention to withdraw from Syria and said “Saudi Arabia is very interested in our decision … Well, you know, you want us to stay, maybe you’re going to have to pay.”
- Qatar airspace: On April 23, Qatar’s civil aviation authority denied UAE’s claims that Qatari military planes intercepted a civilian aircraft on April 22.
- According to Qatar, an unauthorised military aircraft from the UAE entered Qatar’s airspace in the same area as the UAE’s civilian aeroplane.
- On April 22, the United Arab Emirates said that a civilian aircraft heading to Bahrain was approached by a Qatari jet, forcing its pilot to take evasive manoeuvers to avoid a collision.
- On March 28, Qatar reported to the UN Security Council an alleged violation of its airspace by a Bahraini warplane. Since December, Qatar has reported four such violations to the UN.
- On April 23, Kuwait Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah said, “Kuwait and the Arab Gulf countries were determined to solve the crisis.”
- “Everybody realises the longer this division the deeper the wound will be,” al-Jarallah said.
- He added circumstances were not yet ripe to hold a summit between the GCC and the US. He noted the summit might be held next September.
- On April 3, US officials cited by Reuters said that the summit planned between Gulf Arab leaders and the US is being postponed to September.
- On March 7, Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid al-Jarallah confirmed to Kuwait’s news agency that the US planned to host a summit to resolve the Gulf dispute, but said that no invitations had been sent.
- On April 22, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa tweeted his “14th demand”, calling for the prosecution of Al Jazeera for “spreading lies and rumours that cause confusion in our countries”.
- In July 2017, Bahrain and the other blockading countries issued a 13-point list of demands to lift the blockade on Qatar, including the shutdown of the Al Jazeera’s Network.
Gulf shield drill
- On April 18, the Qatari Ministry of Defence announced its participation in the month-long “Gulf Shield 1” military exercises held in Saudi Arabia.
- The military drill was conducted in the town of Ras Al Khair, north of Jubail city in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia, from March 21 to April 16, along with land, sea and air forces from 25 other countries.
- Qatar: On April 16, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdg visited a Turkish military base in Qatar as part of his official tour to the Gulf state.
- Earlier this year, the Turkish ambassador to Qatar said that “according to the agreement signed between Qatar and Turkey in 2014, all ground, air, and naval forces will be deployed to Qatar.”
- Qatar also hosts American, British and French forces at the Al Udeid airbase.
- Bahrain: On April 5, in Bahrain, the UK inaugurated its first permanent naval base in the Middle East since 1971.
- Bahrain’s crown prince said that it “reflects Bahrain’s support for the international coalition against terrorism and will also contribute to global security by safeguarding maritime activity and global trade”.
- Meanwhile, Bahrain and the Saudi-led quarter expect Qatar to shut down a Turkish military base, together with 12 other demands which Qatar consider to violate its sovereignty.
- Dhahran: On April 15, Qatar announced that Ambassador Saif bin Muqaddam al-Buainain, its permanent ambassador to the Arab League, will head the Qatari delegation at the 29th Arab League Summit in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
- A week earlier, the spokesperson for the Qatari foreign ministry confirmed that it had been officially invited to the summit, but ruled out discussions on the Gulf crisis.
- Cairo: On April 9, an official Qatari delegation was present at the 45th session of the Arab Labour Conference in Cairo to represent Qatar.
- Phone calls: On April 11, Reuters revealed that President Trump had a phone conversation with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on April 2, and demanded an end to the dispute with Qatar, according to two US officials briefed on the conversation.
- On April 3, the US president and Qatar’s emir discussed the obstacles to restoring unity in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) over the phone, according to a statement issued by the White House.
- Meetings: On April 10, Qatar’s emir met the US President at the White House to discuss the “strategic” relationship between the two countries, the Qatar-Gulf crisis, and “terrorism” funding in the region.
- Donald Trump met the Saudi crown prince on March 21, Qatar’s emir on April 10, and is scheduled to meet with Abu Dhabi’s crown prince after that.
- On April 10, the British ambassador to Qatar Ajay Sharma confirmed that the Typhoon jets acquired by Qatar in 2017 “will be ready for the World Cup.”
- “We certainly see these jets as part of the way of securing the event,” Sharma added.
- On March 23, Qatar’s Attorney General Dr Ali bin Fetais al-Marri said that the blockading countries had asked Qatar to give up its right to host the World Cup in exchange for lifting the blockade.
- In an interview with the Spanish newspaper ABC, al-Marri said: “They have asked us to give up organising the World Cup to have the boycott against Qatar lifted.”
- Al-Marri added: “I do not see any reason for the blockade other than envy. Why do the Qataris have more liberties than we have, why are they richer if Saudi Arabia is a country with more wealth? Why did Qatar get a chance to host the 2022 football World Cup?”
- On April 2, the United Arab Emirates said that it filed a complaint against Qatar at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) over alleged interceptions of its aircrafts in Bahraini airspace.
- On March 27, Qatar denied claims by the UAE that the Qatari air force had intercepted two passenger flights in Bahraini airspace on March 26.
- Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) said the Emirati statement was an attempt to cover up the UAE’s multiple breaches of Qatari airspace.
- On April 2 , the Wall Street Journal reported that a firm established in Israel was contracted by the UAE to lobby the US government against Qatar.
- The US special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the firm.
- March 5, leaked emails obtained by the BBC suggested that a major Trump fundraiser, with links to the United Arab Emirates tried to convince Donald Trump to sack Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for not supporting the blockade against Qatar.
- Investment: On March 29, Turkey’s Investment Support and Promotion Agency opened its new office in Doha.
- “The expanding cooperation between our countries, as two crucial players of the region, has an ever growing importance,” Fikret Ozer, Turkey’s ambassador to Doha said.
- Transport: On February 1st, Doha hosted the Turkey-Qatar Business Forum to boost bilateral trade and ease transportation through Iraq and Iran.
- “We want to create a mechanism which makes transportation easier and provides a transit pass via Iraq between the two countries,” Turkey’s customs and trade minister Bulent Tufenkci said.
- In November, Erdogan had visited Qatar to attend the third meeting of the Turkey-Qatar Supreme Strategic Committee.
- On March 21, Iraq’s foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Mahjoub questioned the UAE’s claim that Qatar funded Shia-dominated paramilitary forces in Iraq.
- “These remarks come as an obstacle at a time when Iraq is seeking to strengthen its ties with the UAE,” Mahjoub said.
- Ahmed Saeed al-Rumaihi, head of Qatar’s media office for the foreign ministry, described the accusations as “baseless” and made without evidence.
- On March 21, Qatar’s National Counter-Terrorism Committee, established in 2007, published its national “terrorist” list, including 20 individuals and eight entities.
- In May 2017, Qatar signed an agreement establishing the Anti-Terrorist Financing Center in Riyadh, together with the United States and GCC states.
The National Counter Terrorism Committee has published its national terrorist designation list of (21/03/2018): https://t.co/No0sARyY5d
— مكتب الاتصال الحكومي (@GCOQatar) March 21, 2018
- On March 19, Jared Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, confirmed to the Washington Post that his company met Qatari officials in 2017, but nothing came out of it.
- On March 14, the Qatari embassy in Washington reiterated that Qatar had not been in touch with anyone related to the US Special Counsel investigation of Jared Kushner, the US president’s son-in-law.
- In a statement, the Media Attache Jassim Al-Thani said: “Qatar has no information concerning any individuals related to the US Special Counsel’s investigation, including the Kushner family. Qatar has not been approached nor has it considered approaching the Special Counsel’s Office or any entity within the United States Government.”
- US media had alleged that because Kushner failed to receive Qatari funding for a real estate project, the US retaliated against Qatar by supporting the blockade against it.
Morocco – Saudi
- Grey area: On March 18, referring to Morocco‘s neutral stance with respect to the GCC crisis, Saudi Arabia’s Sports Authority chairman and royal court adviser said: “To be in the grey area is no longer acceptable to us.”
- He continued: “There are those who were mistaken in their direction … If you want support, it’ll be in Riyadh.”
- World Cup: Morocco has bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2026, but while FIFA member states are set to vote on their preferred host on June 13, Saudi Arabia’s Sports Authority chairman has hinted that his country may not support Morocco’s bid.
- Lawsuit: On March 16, Qatar’s government communication office filed a lawsuit in the US against people who launched a social media campaign to spread false information about the Gulf state to harm its interests.
- Munich: In February, the countries blockading Qatar invited journalists to a meeting calling for sanctions against Qatar.
- “When no one showed up, organisers reportedly hired a PR company … and the room was filled with young women who told us they were mostly from Eastern Europe,” Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra reported from Munich.
- London: Also in February, a report on Buzzfeed revealed that a British parliamentarian was paid 15,000 British pounds ($20,700) to help organise an anti-Qatar conference in London.
- ICAO meeting: On Friday, March 16, Chairman of the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority Abdulla Nasser Turki Al-Subaey met Fang Liu, secretary-general of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), in Doha, to discuss aviation safety in the region.
- Military equipment: On March 15, Qatar announced that it would spend $3.71bn to buy 28 military helicopters for “enhancing the capabilities and efficiency” of the Qatari air force.
- On March 8, the US announced the sale of air force component upgrades to Qatar, worth $197m.
- Minutes later on Thursday, the US also announced approving a $270m deal to sell air-to-air missiles to the UAE.
- Development plan: On March 14, Qatar unveiled its strategy to “rationalise energy consumption and encourage development of renewable energy while raising self-sufficiency levels for farming and fishing production”.
- Dairy supplies: The Qatari dairy company expects to meet local demand for fresh milk and other dairy products by the holy month of Ramadan in May.
- Qatar had relied mainly on dairy product imports from Saudi Arabia.
- Qatar Games: Blocked from taking part in students’ sports competitions in Dubai, Qatar has organized an alternative local sports competition, the Qatar Games.
- On Tuesday, March 13, Qatar’s news agency announced the signing of a concession agreement with Qatar Petroleum for the continued operation of the al-Bunduq offshore oil field, shared between Qatar and the UAE.
- From its side, sources from the UAE’s Supreme Petroleum Council said: “the concession was recently extended by each respective government to the Japanese consortium, with no direct communication or engagement between the two states.”
- Al-Bunduq offshore oil field near Abu Dhabi was discovered in 1965 and commenced production in 1975.
- On Sunday, March 11, the Qatar Chamber received a Jordanian business delegation in Doha to discuss opportunities for increased economic cooperation and investment.
- The Jordanian delegation, headed by Nael Al-Kabariti, chairman of Jordan’s Chambers of Commerce, also invited Qatari businessmen to visit Amman to explore investment and partnership opportunities with Jordanian businesses.
- In June 2017, Jordan downgraded diplomatic relations with Qatar and closed Al Jazeera’s office in Amman.
- On Sunday, March 12, Al Jazeera aired the second part of its documentary on the financial and logistical support provided by the blockading countries’ governments to perform sabotage operations inside Qatar in 1996.
- Al Jazeera released the first part of the documentary on Sunday, March 4, uncovering evidence of the involvement of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain in supporting a foiled coup attempt to overthrow the Qatari government in 1996.
- The blockading countries’ 13 demands from Qatar include “ending interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs”.
- On Monday, March 5, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani met Timothy Lenderking, US deputy assistant secretary of state for Gulf affairs, and retired US Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni.
- Monday’s meeting comes after the Qatari emir received a letter from his Kuwaiti counterpart, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah.
- Al-Sabah also reportedly sent letters to two other Gulf leaders: Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The contents of the letters have not been disclosed.
- On Monday, February 26, at the 37th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Qatar’s foreign minister urged the council to take action and stop the blockade imposed on Qatar by its neighbours.
- Earlier on February 20, the United Nations High Commissioner Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad al-Hussein met the Chairman of Qatar National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) Ali bin Samikh al-Marri in Geneva.
- Al-Marri explained the latest humanitarian situation resulting from the blockade on Qatar and the actions taken by the National Human Rights Committee.
- On February 21, Fitch ratings agency said that Qatar’s fiscal deficit is narrowing, despite the blockade. Fitch also noted that there are “signs of broader economic resilience”.
- In August 2017, Fitch had downgraded Qatar’s credit rating to AA-.
- On Tuesday, Qatar and Chad signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) resuming diplomatic relations between the two countries, Qatar’s foreign minister said.
Moments ago MOU was signed between #Qatar & #Chad; Diplomatic Relations to be resumed with immediate exchange of ambassadors. A victory for both countries' diplomacy;one that is based on the principles of dialogue & common interests that bring peace and prosperity to both nations pic.twitter.com/Zmz13fAXSD
— لولوة الخاطر Lolwah Alkhater (@Lolwah_Alkhater) February 20, 2018
- On Friday, in an address to the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Qatar’s emir warned that the Qatar-Gulf crisis is undermining the region’s security and economic outlook.
- “It has been a futile crisis, manufactured by our neighbours,” Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said.
- “Those aggressive actors wish to use smaller states as pawns within their power games and sectarian conflicts. It is vital to the interests of the people of the Middle East to guarantee the sovereignty of states like Qatar,” he added.
World order won’t be reformed without a serious and firm resolve by the world leaders to preserve human rights, security and stability world-wide and in the Middle East in particular. I made this clear in the #MSC2018 today. pic.twitter.com/8WYi8MykDX
— تميم بن حمد (@TamimBinHamad) February 16, 2018
Tillerson in Kuwait
- On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the restoration of Arab Gulf unity was in the best interest of all parties in the region.
- Tillerson made the assertion at a press conference held in Kuwait, where he is attending a high-level meeting between members of a US-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).
- On Monday, Al Gharafa of Qatar opened its Asian Championships League campaign in Abu Dhabi against Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
- UAE had requested that the games be played in a third country, but the idea was rejected by the Asian Football Confederation which organises the tournament.
- “Clubs from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates should be played on a home and away basis in 2018 as per the AFC regulations,” the AFC said in a recent statement.
- The football federations of the UAE and Saudi Arabia accepted the decision, though they expressed reservations about how it had been made.
- Click here for all previous updates since the blockade started.