Doha Chooses ‘Rejection’ as Deadline Ends Today

Qatar

Dammam, Roma, Ankara- Qatar chose to escalate by rejecting to comply with demands presented by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt on the eve of an ultimatum that expires Sunday night.

The four Arab states imposed sanctions on Doha, which is accused of supporting terrorism, and has been given 10 days to comply with a list of 13 demands or face unspecified consequences.

Speaking to reporters in Rome, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said: “This list of demands will be rejected. It will not be accepted. We are willing to engage in further dialogue given the proper conditions.”

The Qatari foreign minister also mentioned holding meetings with UN Security Council members concerning the crisis, in a hidden sign about Doha’s efforts to internationalize the Gulf row.

The four Arab states demand Qatar to cut ties with terrorist groups, close down Al Jazeera satellite channel, downgrade ties with Iran and close a Turkish air base in Qatar.

Meanwhile, the four states that cut ties with Qatar alluded to uncover more evidences that prove Doha’s involvement in financing terrorism and encouraging violence in the region.

In an interview with The Times UK, UAE Ambassador to Russia Omar Ghobash said the Gulf States have plenty of evidence regarding Qatar’s involvement in supporting terrorism and that countries such as Britain should choose either to deal with the Gulf Cooperation Council or with Qatar.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin entered on Saturday on the line of the dispute by making two separate phone calls, one with Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and the second to Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

The Kremlin said Putin stressed during the two phone calls on the need for diplomacy to end the dispute between Qatar and several other Arab states.

Also on Saturday, and following a three-day visit to Germany, Saudi Information Minister Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad said the decision of Saudi Arabia and other countries to cut ties with Qatar attained substantial understanding from the German officials following the presentation of information proving Qatar’s involvement in funding terrorism and extremism, support and sponsorship of its prominent figures and the use of Al-Jazeera as a media platform that promotes violence and terrorists, the Saudi News Agency reported Saturday.

ICAO Commends Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE,Bahrain’s Air Navigation Safety Measures

The Board of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) held an irregular session in which the Secretariat General of the ICAO presented updated information about the safety of the skies over the Arabian Gulf.

In a statement to Saudi state-owned press agency (SPA), the Director of the Middle East Regional Office, Mohammed Rahma, said that in direct cooperation with the countries that announced severing their relations with the State of Qatar, office staff activated at 8:30 am on 5th June the contingency plan set forth in Annex XI to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago, 1944).

In response to a question from a member of the Board, the Director of the Air Navigation Bureau, Steve Kramer, said that the General Secretariat of the ICAO has no concerns about the safety of the skies over the international waters in the Gulf, as the boycotting states possess modern navigation devices and abilities covering all international airspace over the Arabian Gulf, adding that the Regional Bureau will hold a meeting on 6th July in Cairo with representatives of the countries that have cut ties with Qatar to discuss any new demands from Qatar regarding the opening of new air routes over the international waters in the Gulf.

A number of international representatives commended the efforts being exerted by the countries and the Secretariat General of the ICAO, especially the staff of the Middle East Regional Office, and requested continuing cooperation between the Regional Office, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to ensure safety over international waters in the Arabian Gulf.

Qatar Escalates on Eve of Deadline

Qatar

Washington, Ankara- Qatar escalated its moves on Thursday as an ultimatum issued by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain is expected to expire on July 3.

The four Arab states imposed sanctions on Doha, which has been given 10 days to comply with the demands or face unspecified consequences.

However, Qatar on Thursday decided to escalate by insisting to transfer its crisis with the four states to the meeting of the World Trade Organization on Friday, Reuters reported.

“Qatar said it wanted to discuss trade restrictive measures by certain members,” in a sign to the dispute with the four states, who have accused Doha of supporting terrorism.

Meanwhile, the director of Qatar’s World Trade Organization office, Ali Alwaleed al-Thani told Reuters that Qatar was considering a complaint at the WTO against a “blockade” by the Arab states.

“We are exploring all possible legal avenues, including, but not limited to, the (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body,” Ali Alwaleed said.

Other sources said that Doha wants to hire a Swiss law firm to request compensations for citizens affected by the Gulf decision to cut ties with Qatar.

After Qatar’s Al Jazeera channel announced the arrival of additional Turkish troops to Al Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar’s defense minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Atiyyah will make an official visit to Turkey on Friday for talks on the latest developments related to the Gulf crisis.

Diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat the Qatari minister would also tackle specific aspects of the Turkish military base in Qatar.

In Washington, Qatar’s Foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said on Thursday that his country was working with the United States and Kuwait to respond to a list of demands presented by the four Arab states.

“We have to set the conditions first in order to pursue these negotiations,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

On Wednesday, demonstrators gathered outside the embassy of Qatar in Washington and asked US President Donald Trump to take clear positions in exerting pressures on Qatar, who is accused of supporting terrorism.

International Optimism about Accelerated Saudi Economic Reform

Saudi

London– “Fitch” international ratings agency said on Thursday that the decision by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to name his son, Mohammed Bin Salman, as crown prince, would further boost economic reforms in the Kingdom.

In a report, the agency also said that the decision would reduce the risk of the country’s Vision 2030 program losing momentum.

“Mohammed bin Salman was instrumental in setting up the Vision 2030 reform agenda and its implementation plans, including the National Transformation Program 2020, the Fiscal Balance Program and the plan to partly privatize Saudi Aramco,” Fitch said.

The agency went on to say that under Mohammed bin Salman’s leadership of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs, the kingdom’s economic policy has amazed observers because of its boldness.

It included early cuts in subsidies, which has given markets confidence in the government’s ability to rein in big fiscal deficits, it added.

Other western reports have also agreed that the elevation of Prince Mohammed to the rank of crown prince would have “huge positive impact on the Saudi economy”.

The Wall Street Journal quoted well-informed banking sources as saying that the timing of the appointment promoted the direction towards the alliance of the Kingdom’s leaders behind economic reform and foreign political developments.

They added that the measure was a much-calculated step, noting that such clarity was needed in the presence of a major ambitious plan.

Tom Rogers, associate director at Oxford Economics, said: “The shift in royal succession announced this morning should help underpin the durability and credibility of the economic reform process in Saudi Arabia.”

“Market reaction was positive, underlining local confidence in the move,” he added.

Saudis Pledge Loyalty to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi

Mecca – Saudis pledged allegiance on Wednesday to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz after a royal decree appointing him next in line to rule the world’s leading oil exporter, deputy premier whilst upholding his post as defense minister.

Former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz led the crowd of officials when pledging allegiance to Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Al-Safa Palace in Makkah.

“We pledge our allegiance to you (Prince Mohammed bin Salman) in the name of god’s holy book (the Quran) and the Sunnah,” Former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s nephew, swore at the scene.

The pledge includes undisputed loyalty to the new heir.

Sunnah are the teachings, deeds and sayings, silent permissions (or disapprovals) of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, as well as various reports about Muhammad’s companions.

For his part, Prince Mohammed bin Salman reiterated his unbound commitment to receiving and taking into consideration the advice and insight of former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has called on the citizens of Saudi Arabia to pledge allegiance to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Al-Safa Palace in Makkah after Wednesday night’s Tarawih prayers.

Tarawih refers to extra prayers performed by Muslims at night in the Islamic month of Ramadan.

A royal decree published by the Saudi Press Agency in the early hours of Wednesday morning said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had been appointed to his new position after being chosen by 31 out of 34 members of the Allegiance Council.

King Salman also directed that the regional princes and governors and heads of the Allegiance Council receive pledges on behalf of the Crown Prince in an effort to facilitate the process for citizens taking oath, saving them the hardship of traveling to Makkah.

Saudis on Twitter launched a hashtag on pledging allegiance to the new crown prince. Taking to the online platform, Saudi citizens expressed their loyalty promising undoubted commitment to the Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

The singers confirmed that they are confident in Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ability to bring Saudi Arabia to the forefront in all domains and march along with the country towards a bright and promising future.

Saudis expressed sincere thanks and gratitude to former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz for his efforts to serve his country.

Bandar bin Khaled al-Faisal… An Economist Who Adjusted Media Numbers

Bandar

Riyadh – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Wednesday appointed Prince Bandar Bin Khalid al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz as adviser to the Royal Court.

Prince Bandar is the eldest son of Prince Khaled al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz, the advisor of King Salman and the Emir of Mecca.

He contributed with his father to the establishment of the “Arab Thought Foundation” – which is one of the most prominent cultural organizations in the region that aims to achieve Arab cultural solidarity and promote the identity of the Arab civilization and its openness to the world through creative programs and initiatives.

Prince Bandar heads the administrative board of the “Arab Thought Foundation” – which he describes as a platform for creativity that encourages innovative ideas and pilot initiatives.

He graduated from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), where he specialized in Computer Science.

The prince’s journey to economic and administrative excellence reached new horizons when he pursued his studies in the United States and received a Master’s Degree from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Massachusetts.

He later returned to his home country, where he actively engaged in the public sector, by serving as member in several administrative boards in companies inside Saudi Arabia and abroad.

Prince Bandar is currently the chairman of Assir Establishment for Press and Publishing, which issues Al-Watan Saudi daily.

His interest in the media stretches beyond mere knowledge, as he is the founder of many brands in the media.

He was prominent in honoring Saudi companies and institutions through the media door, through an annual list that is supervised by his institution.

Saudi-Iraqi Relations Take a ‘Quantum Leap’

Saudi

Riyadh- A joint Saudi-Iraqi statement announced on Tuesday that both countries have agreed to establish a coordinative council in a move to upgrade strategic ties.

Cooperation is expected to encompass a broad selection of domains, whether it is politics, security, economics, commerce, investment, tourism or culture.

“The countries agreed to establish a coordination council to upgrade relations to the hoped for strategic level and open new horizons for cooperation in different fields,” said the statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

It said the two countries had achieved a “quantum leap” in bilateral relations and stressed the importance of further official visits.

More so, the statement cited meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, then Deputy Crown Prince, and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi during which both parties appreciated the upgrade in relations, and highlighting the importance to keeping regular visits among both countries’ officials.

Rising regional issues and political and security challenges facing Arab and Islamic nations were discussed at the bilateral meetings held.

Both Iraq and Saudi Arabia agreed to intensify joint action on confronting these challenges, particularly combating extremism and fighting terrorism in all its forms, in an emphasis to the importance of drying up sources funding terrorism.

The two countries expressed their determination to carry on combating terrorist organizations, particularly terror group ISIS.

In the joint statement, they also condemned all actions affecting the security and stability of the two countries and the region, stressing the need to reject hate, violence, and sectarian strife and discrimination.

For his part, PM Abadi expressed the Iraqi government’s appreciation of Saudi support in efforts exerted in Iraq’s infrastructure.

Abadi also commended the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Saudi government for their services to the world’s Muslim pilgrims, Umrah performers and visitors.

He also expressed his thanks and appreciation for the warm reception and generous hospitality accorded to both him and his accompanying delegation.

Bahrain Orders Qatari Soldiers to Leave

Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Manama-Manama ordered on Sunday Qatari troops serving with the US Naval Forces Central Command to leave its territory within the next 48 hours, the same day a deadline offered by each of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain for Qatari nationals to leave their territories ended.

“The Bahrainis told the US general in command of the base that Qatari soldiers must leave,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.


”They are still in the base but likely to leave within the next two days,” the source added, without detailing the number of Qatari troops based in Bahrain.

Also on Sunday, Qatar’s Defense Ministry announced that the first batch of Turkish troops have arrived in Doha and that these forces conducted their first training at Tariq bin Ziyad military base.

Meanwhile, a Saudi government source told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday that Riyadh remains determined to implement the decision related to Qatari nationals who are asked to leave its territories, but added that the Kingdom would “take into account the humanitarian aspects.”

The source also said Saudi Arabia insists to provide all the facilities and services for Qatari pilgrims.

The source denied rumors that Riyadh was not facilitating services for Qatari pilgrims at the Salwa crossing, the only land road connecting Qatar with the world.  

Separately, the Emirates Writers Union warned its writers, authors and cultural figures from dealing with any Qatari party and to prevent any joint cooperation with Qatari funding entities.

Qatar’s Diplomatic Crisis Going Downhill

Qatar

Qatar’s government moved last week to sign a deal on buying 36 top-notch F-15 fighter jets. After securing this purchase, Doha will possess a massive air force at its disposal.

It is worth remembering that in November 2016 the Gulf peninsula also sealed a deal adding to its fleet another 72 F-15 jets. But there remains a catch-22 binding Qatar’s aerial military might—despite a large and capable air fleet, it lacks a sufficient and accessible airspace for its pilots to conduct much needed drills.

More so, Qatar’s airspace has been sizably trimmed after Saudi Arabia and Bahrain –neighboring Gulf states – closed off their air and land routes for the country’s role in funding extremist groups.

Unless Doha seeks Iran’s help or travels abroad to train, fighter jet drills remain a far reach.

What faces Qatar today is a boycott of political, social and economic ties which it won’t be able to withhold. And since this is not a military standoff, F-15 jets are of no relevance to finding a solution.

Increasingly authorities in Doha complain against the recently-imposed punitive measures Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates pushed for after patience running out with the destabilizing actions Qatar has upheld in the region ever since its former emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, staged a power grab and counting till this very day.

For years the peninsula engaged in risky ploys the former emir managed over the phone and from a distance, safe in the knowledge Arab governments will not dare punish his country. But everything ultimately has a price.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE, want Qatar to be held accountable should it insist on adopting a hostile political agenda. Qatar may endure the diplomatic boycott for a few months, keeping in mind that Doha does not share Iran its tough skin against embargo.

In the end, Qatar will succumb and give up on funding anarchist parties. It will eventually shut down most rabble-rousing media outlets it created when evading commitments it made to the Riyadh agreement.

Some of Doha’s problems can be solved. For example, they can import fruits and vegetables from Europe, meat from Australia and dairy products from Turkey, and they would pay more money to get these by plane.

However, there are problems which Doha cannot solve through money or developed means of transportation. Confidence in the political system will shake. As threats and costs increase, Qatar’s government will not be able to reassure its citizens and residents, nor be able to end tensions which affected them and major companies.

In the last two weeks, Qatar’s government attempted reassuring citizens and residents by falsely claiming that disputes are soon to be resolved.

At some point, it went as far as forging statements and attributing some of them to Washington officials, including to the US President Donald Trump. It exaggerated talks and repeated news to reassure its citizens that the American military base will remain in Qatar.

Two days ago, Qatari state-owned media outlets falsely said that American troops carried out a joint military drill with Qatari troops. The Pentagon soon after issued a statement denying the news.

People in Qatar began to realize the bitter truth that their government got them biting off more than what they can chew. They realized that the crisis isn’t going anywhere, and that the boycott will restrain them as disputes worsen and more bridges burn down.

Countries harmed by Qatar’s policies said they intend on having Qatar pay a high price so long that it threatens their security and stability.

All tricks up Doha’s sleeve have failed—particularly when it attempted driving a wedge between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi and inciting the US against Saudi Arabia.

Mobilizing Doha-hired social media and media mouthpieces in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE also proved useless as those countries’ governments preemptively cracked down on all Qatar-linked outlets, blocking them in their territories.

All the more, Saudi, Egyptian, Bahraini and UAE governments now closely monitor all financial transactions and communications coming into or out of their counties and are –even remotely- linked to Qatar. Practically, they have obstructed any plans which Doha authorities had invested in inside their countries.

This time, breaking the ice goes beyond a warm opening of arms or a call for traditional Arab tolerance and kindness. Doha needs to seriously rethink its detrimental policy in the region.

Even though not partaking the boycott, the majority of the region’s countries agree that Qatar’s regime has crossed all red limits, causing grave destruction, threatening the region’s entire security and aiding terrorist groups and hostile countries like Iran.

These countries together will support penalizing Qatari authorities until it alters its practices and raises the white flag.

Royal Decrees Revamp Saudi Public Prosecution Now Functioning Under King Salman

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz

Riyadh- Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Saturday released a number of royal orders which revamped the kingdom’s public prosecution offices.

The offices, previously called “The Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution” now are to be known as “the Public Prosecution” and its chairman will be given the title of “Public Prosecutor”.

Public prosecution functions directly under the King’s auspices, whilst enjoying full independence, said the Saudi Press Agency SPA.

The national Cabinet was also directed to review regulations and bylaws the bureau and other related legislation function under. Within the period of 90 days, any amendments that are in accordance with the directives present in the royal decree must be proposed.

King Salman also relieved BIP’s head, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Oraini, replacing him with Sheikh Saud bin Abdullah Al-Meageb as public prosecutor with the rank of minister.

The decree also ordered the retirement of the director of general security, Lt. Gen. Othman bin Naser Al-Muhrij, who was replaced by Lt. Gen. Saud bin Abdul Aziz Hallal.

Abdulhakeem bin Mohammed Al-Tamimi was appointed president of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) with the rank of minister, and Suhail Mohammed Abanumai was named in the decree as governor of the General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT).

The royal decrees also appointed Faisal bin Abdul Aziz bin La as adviser at the Royal Court at the rank of general, and Abdul Aziz Al-Hamed as director of Prince Sattam bin Abdul Aziz University.

Uqla bin Ali Al-Uqla was named deputy chief and Fahd bin Abdullah bin Abdullatif Al-Mubarak as adviser at the Royal Court at the rank of minister. The decree also appointed Tamim bin Abdul Aziz Al-Salem as assistant special secretary to King Salman at the rank of minister.

Other appointees at ministerial rank include Aqla Bin Ali Al-Aqla as deputy chief of the Royal Court, Dr. Fahd Bin Abdullah Bin Abdul Latif Al-Mubarak as adviser at the Royal Court, Musaed Bin Nasser Al-Barrak as adviser at the Royal Court, Turki Bin Abdulmohsen Al-Asheikh as adviser at the Royal Court.

Dr. Hamad Bin Mohammed Bin Hamad Al- Asheikh was named adviser at the Royal Court at the excellent rank.