Tillerson Heads to the Gulf, Kuwaiti FM Discusses Crisis with Qatar Emir

Washington and Dammam – The US State Department announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will begin on Friday a tour that will take him to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan, India, and Switzerland.

In Riyadh, Tillerson will take part in the inaugural Coordination Council meeting between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Iraq. He will also meet with various Saudi leaders to discuss the conflict in Yemen, the ongoing Gulf dispute with Qatar, stance on Iran, and a number of other important regional and bilateral issues.

The statement also mentioned that Tillerson will then travel to Doha, where he will meet with Qatari leaders and US military officials to discuss joint counter-terrorism efforts, the ongoing Gulf dispute, and other regional and bilateral issues, including Iran and Iraq.

Earlier, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah arrived in Qatar to discuss the latest developments of the Gulf crisis and the Kuwaiti efforts to settle it through dialogue.

The FM and his accompanying delegation met with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani where the two discussed “the close and brotherly relations between the two countries as well as regional and international issues,” according to Qatar News Agency.

Sabah also conveyed the greetings of Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah and his wishes of more progress and prosperity to the Emir and the Qatari people.

On Monday, Kuwait’s Emir went to the Saudi capital Riyadh where he met King Salman bin Abdulaziz to discuss the Qatar crisis and the latest developments in the region.

In Cairo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry announced that the four countries boycotting Qatar are constantly coordinating and will continue to do so until they detect a positive response from Doha.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Portuguese counterpart Augusto Santos Silva, Shoukry mentioned that the quartet is coordinating on possible measures against Qatar, which has refused to respond to the principles concerning the national security of the four countries boycotting Doha: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain.

The Egyptian FM stated that efforts will be exerted until the national security of the four countries is guaranteed and positive outcomes are detected which will lead to a change in Syria and Iraq.

He concluded that the measures of the quartet resulted in re-stabilizing the region.

Qatar Brings $20 Billion Back Home to Face Boycott Burdens

Qatar

London – Qatar has brought back more than $20 billion to cope with the boycott imposed by the Anti-Terrorism Quartet, which is formed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Qatari Finance Minister Ali Shareef al-Emadi said that his country has withdrawn more than $20 billion from investment funds and injected them into Qatari banks, in an effort to ease the repercussions of the boycott, the Financial Times reported.

Al-Emadi noted that the deposits brought from Qatar Investment Authority were being used to create a “buffer” and provide liquidity in the banking system as capital outflows in the wake of the crisis have reached more than $30 billion.

However, Qatari minister tried to play down the move, saying it was very natural for his country to bring liquidity from abroad, in the current situation, noting that what Doha has done was a “preventive and proactive action.”

The Financial Times quoted Al-Emadi as saying: “We are not liquidating anything. What we have done is taking some of our liquidity from outside to inside. This is through the Ministry of Finance and the QIA, which is very normal in this type of situation.”

Qatar Central Bank said in July that the volume of foreign deposits in Qatari banks fell significantly after the outbreak of the crisis with the four Arab countries.

Moody’s rating agency said in September that the Arab Peninsula had pumped $38.5 billion into its economy since the beginning of the crisis, in an attempt to protect the sector from the repercussions of the boycott imposed by the four countries.

The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) have reduced its holdings in Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank; Rosneft, the Russian energy company; and Tiffany & Co.

But Al-Emadi told The Financial Times that these moves were linked to the country’s investment strategy, not because of the crisis.

Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), which was set up by the government in 2005 to manage the benefits of oil and natural gas, is estimated at $300 billion. Before the eruption of the crisis with Qatar, the Authority was one of the active funds that own shares in major companies such as Volkswagen and Barclays.

Gaddafi Family to Sue Qatar before ICC

Cairo- The Gaddafi family has announced its intention to sue Qatar before the International Criminal Court, which is based in The Hague.
 
The family’s lawyer, Khalid al-Zaidi, has vowed to sue Qatari figures before the ICC for “supporting terrorism and causing the displacement of Libyan citizens.”
 
In a news conference held on Tuesday evening in Tunis, Zaidi noted that a team of five international lawyers would soon start to work on the case, pointing out that Doha could be sued under Law No. 1970, which Qatar itself was the reason behind, and that no new Security Council resolution was required to file the case.
 
Meanwhile, UN Special Envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame continued his efforts to converge the views of the two dialogue committees, representing Libya’s Parliament and the High State Council, as he provided them on Wednesday with a new paper on consensual formulas to resume the negotiations over the amendment of the Skhirat Agreement.
 
Talks on amending the agreement kicked off last Sunday in Tunis, and were suspended following the withdrawal of Parliament’s representatives over a disagreement on the need to tackle controversial issues.
 
Omar Boushah, member of the dialogue committee on the High State Council briefed Asharq Al-Awsat about the details of the meeting attended by the UN envoy to Libya. He noted that Salame presented to the two dialogue committees, which convened in Tunis on Wednesday, “a set of ideas centered around some points of agreement, and other issues that remain controversial and should be studied within each committee.”
 
The head of Parliament’s side in the Joint Drafting Committee, Abdul Salam Nasieh, met with British Ambassador to Libya Peter Millett, with whom he discussed the reasons for the suspension of the second round of political talks in Tunis.
 
The Libyan Parliament said in a statement published on its Facebook page, early on Wednesday, that the chairman of the dialogue committee and members of the joint drafting committee have briefed Millett on the reasons behind suspending the political dialogue, and they asked the other party (the High State Council) to submit its written notes on the controversial issues.
 
Parliament went on to say that the British diplomat was “convinced by their view and by the strong argument presented to him.”
 
It is noteworthy that the British ambassador to Libya also met with the dialogue committee of the High State Council and heard their views on the matter.
 
In earlier remarks this week, Nasieh said the reason behind his delegation’s withdrawal was the insistence of the High State Council’s dialogue committee not to resolve controversial issues and to return to points and understandings that have already been resolved.
 
The council responded by saying that no amendments were originally requested.

Saudi National Society for Human Rights Decries Qatar’s Recent Actions

Riyadh, Geneva- Saudi Arabia’s National Society for Human Rights has denounced a move by Qatari authorities to freeze the assets of Sheikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al-Thani and Sheikh Sultan Bin Suhaim and violating their private property.

It pointed out that the right of ownership of those persons, who have a view contrary to the policy of the Qatari Government, should be respected, and stressed the importance of ensuring the rights of those who worked for them and not to harm them, and to ensure their continued contact with their families.

It added that punitive measures involving human rights violations against persons or those working for them because of their political positions in the Qatari crisis contravene with international human rights instruments.

In a related context, the Arab Federation for Human Rights demanded the UN to intervene urgently to rescue the peaceful political opposition in Qatar from the oppression of Qatari authorities. The federation expressed concerns and sorrow for the continuous suppression that has been practiced by the authorities since June 5, following the Arab boycott of Qatar.

The federation, headquartered in Geneva, denounced the Qatari security storming of Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim Al-Thani Palace in Doha and freezing his assets as well as confiscating his personal and family possessions.

Sahar Al-Sheikh, the supervisor of Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim Al-Thani’s palace, revealed her last moments in Qatar and how Qatari security deported her from Doha after beating her, threatening her with death and assassination in her country Sudan.

Sheikh spoke about the fear and enforced disappearances among workers in Qatar, stressing that what she witnessed in Doha at the hands of security officials confirmed to her that Qatari authorities sponsor terrorism, as she experienced it firsthand from Qatari security.

She added that she had received a phone call from Sheikh Sultan, who asked to talk to his sons. Later, she was surprised by a convoy of security vehicles storming the building where she lived. After being lured outside by a woman who said there was a message from Sheikh Sultan that must be received, she was arrested and deported.

All telephone conversations in Qatar were monitored by the state security apparatus, according to Sheikh.

Qatar Emir Says Open to Dialogue with Arab Quartet

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is seen during a joint news conference with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the presidential palace in Bogor

Dammam– Qatar is “open to dialogue” in resolving a dispute with the Arab quartet, its emir said during a visit to Indonesia on Wednesday. Whereas, Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs claimed that the war on ISIS has been affected because of the blockade on his country.

Qatar is a base to thousands of US troops engaged in the battle against the terrorist organization, and according to the FM, the quartet wants to destabilize Qatar and their behavior shows they are not willing to reach a solution.

Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who arrived in Indonesia on Tuesday after his visit to Malaysia, said at a joint news conference with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the presidential palace in Bogor, West Java, that the standoff is hurting all the countries involved.

“We conveyed that Qatar is ready to conduct a dialogue to solve the problem as we already know that no one will win,” the Emir told the press, reiterating: “we are all brothers and we have suffered losses due to this crisis.”

He then added that Qatar is ready to start a dialogue to reach an agreement that must be respected by all parties based on the sovereignty of the state.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates cut ties with Qatar on June 5 due to its support for extremist groups in the region and its close ties with Iran. They also banned Qatar Airways from using their airspace, closed off the country’s land border with Saudi Arabia and blocked its ships from using their ports.

Speaking to CNBC in an interview, Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani stated that the battle against ISIS has suffered as a result of the conflict taking place. He explained that 90 percent of the country’s supplies of food supply, medicine supply comes through the land border and those supplies part of it is going to al-Udeid base of US troops.

He added that as air space is now blocked to Qatari aircraft that offer strategic support, those planes can only now use one path, north toward Iran.

Qatari forces, part of US Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain, were ordered in June to leave the country.
“They are not allowed to fly over their skies so it’s only allowed to use one path which is toward the north, toward Iran. So this is an effect as well as our officers who were participating in the coalition activity and the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain they’ve been expelled because of this,” he explained.

The FM added that many factors in this crisis undermine global efforts in countering ISIS, including the blockade and measures the Quartet has taken against Qatar.

UAE Rights Group Condemns Asset Freeze of Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani

Dubai– Emirates Association for Human Rights (EHRA) condemned the freeze of assets of Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani saying it is a flagrant violation of human rights that has become a systematic approach of intimidation adopted by Qatari authorities.

EHRA Chairman Mohammed Salem al-Kaabi said that Qatar’s freezing of Sheikh Abdullah’s assets and funds is a blatant infringement of personal and human rights and an illegal, condemned action that corroborates Doha’s insistence to continue its violations of all Arab and international human rights charters and conventions.

The association also condemned Qatari regime’s freezing of the assets of Sheikh Sultan Bin Suhaim and the raid on his palace last week by the Qatari state security forces that wreaked havoc on its holdings and documents.

These actions reveal the fact that Qatar has become a police state that blatantly defies all legal restrictions, WAM News Agency quoted Kaabi as saying.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Ali Al Thani, the grandson of Qatar’s founder, tweeted: “The Qatari regime honors me by freezing all of my bank accounts, and I thank them for this honor and I have the honor to present it to the homeland.”

He hoped that Qatar would expel opportunists and friends of interests and return to the Gulf union.

In details, the palace of Sheikh Sultan Bin Suhaim in Doha was raided for six hours by a unit of 15 armed men of the Qatari State Security Forces last Thursday.

The raid resulted in the confiscation of around 137 bags and a number of cabinets containing documents and belongings of Sheikh Sultan, as well as large archives of his father, former Foreign Minister Suhaim Bin Hamad Al Thani.

The archive includes information that accurately records the history of Qatar and its internal events from the sixties until his death in 1985.

Also during the raid, security agents invaded the private room of Sheikh Sultan’s mother, confiscating all her personal and family pictures, her jewelry, valuables and money.

In addition, palace workers were subjected to assault, beatings and arrest.

Qatari Security Forces Raid Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim’s Palace

Sultan

Abu Dhabi, Doha – An armed force of the Qatari security forces raided the palace of Sheikh Sultan bin Suhaim Al Thani in Doha and confiscated documents and possessions belonging to his father, former Foreign Minister Sheikh Suhaim bin Hamad.

The security forces confiscated about 137 cases and a number of iron cabinets containing all of Sheikh Sultan documents and possessions, in addition to a vast archive that accurately documents the history of Qatar.

Sky News television reported that the raid, which lasted six hours, was carried out by a unit of 15 members of the Qatari security forces on Thursday evening.

The confiscated materials are of high political value and record the history of Qatar and its domestic events since the 1960s and until Sheikh Suhaim’s death in 1985, it reported.

The state agents also entered the private room of Sheikh Sultan’s mother, Sheikha Mona al-Dousary, and seized valuables, including family photos, all her jewelry and cash.

In addition, workers in the palace were assaulted and arrested with the Sudanese housekeeper being deported, while the fate of two arrested Moroccans is still unknown. Another Sudanese female worker was detained for eight hours and up to this moment, palace staff are being held in an undisclosed location and are not allowed to leave.

The palace is now under complete control of the security forces.

Sky News also confirmed that Qatari authorities have frozen all of Sheikh Sultan’s assets and seized his seal, documents and trade contracts, which poses a risk that they may be misused for fraudulent purposes.

Qatari authorities froze the accounts of Sheikh Sultan days after freezing the assets of Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani.

Bahrain FM: Qatar Orbits Iran, Failed to Present Initiative to Resolve Crisis

Bahrain

Manama – Bahrain’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad Al Khalifa said that Qatar was still “orbiting Iran”, adding: “We have not seen any sign of Qatar’s initiative to resolve the crisis, so we are still waiting for this step.”

“We are not losers,” he said. “We are concerned about the stability and prosperity of our countries, the security and progress of our peoples before anything else, and it is up to them – the Qataris – if they want to resolve their crisis or not.”

On the Gulf Summit in Kuwait, the Bahraini minister said: “The summit [will be held] on time, upon an invitation by the host country.”

Asked about US President Donald Trump’s remarks on the possibility to terminate the nuclear deal with Iran, Sheikh Khaled said: “We welcomed his speech and the strategy he put forward, and we have been waiting for it for a long time.”

He explained: “Bahrain welcomed this strategy because it is one of the countries that have suffered the most from Iranian terrorism and Iranian interventions, and we are waiting for this strategy to progress and achieve its objectives and not be withdrawn.”

The Bahraini minister underlined the convergence of the strategy launched by Trump with the vision of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain towards Iran’s role in the region.

“Now we see a clearer picture than before, a sound vision and a sense of danger in the region, where Iran represents the greatest threat to security and stability,” he noted.

Hamas Runs a Regional PR Campaign

Fatah’s Azam al-Ahmad (right) and Saleh al-Aruri of Hamas kiss after signing a reconciliation deal in Cairo on Thursday.

Ramallah- Gaza ruling party Hamas is steadily on the track of restoring its ties with former allies while maintaining current friends. The move by no means is risk-free, as conflict pits parties Hamas views as valuable against each other.

It is no secret that the Islamist movement, which lost allies and won others, is planning broader and better relations with Egypt. It looks forward to opening up as much as possible to Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE. But it also strives to do the same with Qatar and Turkey, and to restore ties with Iran and Hezbollah, and perhaps the Syrian regime at a later date.

Officially, Hamas says it wants to maintain advanced relations with all Arabs in the region, as well as other countries, so long that it serves the best interest of the Palestinian cause.

Many Hamas officials, including Hamas Leader Khaled Meshaal, confirmed that this goes beyond playing along politics axes.

Hamas-affiliated writer and political analyst Ibrahim Madhoun said the movement will partially succeed in its endeavors.

“There are countries and people who understand the positions of the movement and there are other countries that are conservative, but this will not push Hamas to take a hostile stance or to back down,” said Madhoun.

“The movement will try to knock on these doors, and open areas with everyone in one way or another, especially central countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and Egypt, as they stand to be the real supporter of the Palestinian cause,” he added.

According to Madhoun, “Hamas’ response to Egyptian efforts was not at the expense of Turkey or Qatar or of any other party, and neither will contact with Tehran be at the expense of Riyadh or the Gulf.”

“I believe that talking to Russia does not mean antagonizing the United States, although the latter takes a negative attitude. There are efforts by Hamas to infiltrate the American wall itself.”

Contacts made by the head of Hamas’ political bureau in the last two days, made it clear that Hamas actually tried to communicate with all sides openly as if it were sending out a message in every direction in this regard.

Kuwaiti Emir to Conduct Gulf Tour to Resolve Qatar Crisis

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah attends the opening of the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Doha

Kuwait- Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah is expected to start a Gulf tour this week as part of his efforts to resolve the Qatari crisis ahead of a Gulf summit in Kuwait next December.

The holding of the summit is faced by several obstacles, including the boycott imposed by a number of Gulf States on Doha on the basis of Qatar’s policy that contributes to destabilizing the region and the Arab world.

“Talks between the Saudi and Kuwaiti sides will focus on the ongoing rift between Qatar and the quartet countries, the means to address differences at the negotiating table and finding solutions that will resolve the crisis radically,” Germany’s official news agency quoted a Saudi source as saying.

The sources refused to comment on current reports suggesting that a close solution to the crisis could be reached by holding a meeting of the leaders of the six Gulf countries and Egypt at a summit hosted by Kuwait according to a specific roadmap with the guarantee of the Emir of Kuwait.

“The wisdom and experience of Sheikh Sabah will facilitate the achievement of practical solutions that ensure Qatar’s abidance by the basic principles required by the four countries, the adoption of procedures to converge views based on the commitment to the six principles adopted in 2013, their implementation mechanism, which was issued in 2014, and the written commitment by the Emir of Qatar to implement them,” the sources noted.

Last week, Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister, Khalid al-Jarallah, said that Kuwait had not yet sent invitations to Gulf Arab leaders for the Gulf Summit.

“It was usual at every Gulf summit to send invitations before an appropriate time, but it is too early to talk about these invitations now and send them to our brothers in the Gulf States,” he said.

Jarallah said he was optimistic about reaching a solution to the crisis. He also expressed hope that the dispute between Gulf brothers would be addressed ahead of the upcoming Gulf summit.

“The Kuwaiti mediation efforts to resolve the Gulf crisis will not fail and will continue with the help of the United States,” he said late last month.