Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates

Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates

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The latest news after some of the Gulf states and Egypt cut ties with Qatar and imposed a land, sea and air blockade.

SUMMARY

  • Erdogan heads to the Gulf to help solve Qatar crisis
  • UAE welcomes Qatari decision to amend anti-terrorism law
  • 14 countries severe ties

The latest developments since several countries, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, cut ties with Qatar on June 5. (All times local Doha time).

5:30pm – Qatar’s BeIN sports network back on air in UAE

  • Qatar’s BeIN sports satelite network was broadcasting again on Saturday in the United Arab Emirates, according to subscribers to its channels which have been blocked since the start of a Gulf crisis.
  • “We are again receiving the network of BeIN sports channels, distributed by Du,” one of two telecommunications companies in the Emirates, one customer told AFP news agency.
  • Etisalat, a UAE-based telecommunications giant, had also reinstated BeIN sports, according to several subscribers to its channels. Customers were informed of the move in an email from Etisalat.
  • “We would like to advise that starting 22 July 2017 the BeIN package will be available to customers and normal charges will apply,” the message said. “The provision of the BeIN package will be subject to an ongoing review.”

03:10am – Key points of Qatari Emir’s speech

  • The spirit of solidarity, harmony and defiance that had prevailed in the people of Qatar frustrated the hopes of those who banked on the opposite.
  • Qatar is fighting terrorism, relentlessly and without compromises and the international community recognises this.
  • Differences are resolved through dialogue and negotiation and we should not burden civilians with political differences.
  • We are opening our economy to initiatives, investments, production of food, medicine and ultimately to diversify our source of income.
  • We are open to dialogue to find solutions to lingering problems, within the framework of respect for the sovereignty and will of each state as mutual undertakings and joint commitments binding all.

12:41am – Turkish President to embark on a two-day Gulf tour

  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan will embark on a two-day Gulf tour starting on Sunday as part of his efforts to resolve the crisis in the region.
  • His first stop will be in the Saudi port city of Jeddah, during which he will meet Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud.
  • Erdogan will then depart for Kuwait to meet Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who has led mediation efforts to resolve the crisis. His next stop will be Doha, where he will meet the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

10:15pm – Emir Sheikh Tamim denounces “smearing” of Qatar 

  • Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has denounced the “malicious smearing campaign” directed against the country in his first address following the blockade.
  • Sheikh Tamim said Qatar and its people “rose spontaneously defending the sovereignty and independence of the country.”

05:20pm – Tillerson hopes Qatar blockade will be lifted 

  • US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has renewed his call on Arab states to lift the blockade on Qatar, saying the US is satisfied with Doha’s efforts to implement an agreement aimed at combating terror financing.
  • “They have been very aggressive in implementing that agreement, so I think we’re satisfied with the effort they’re putting forth,” Tillerson told reporters just before meeting with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah at the State Department on Friday.

04:50pm – UAE welcomes Qatar’s move to amend anti-terror laws

  • The United Arab Emirates on Friday welcomed Qatar’s decision to amend its anti-terrorism laws, in one of the first positive signs since sanctions were imposed on Doha in June.
  • “The Qatari decree to amend the anti-terrorism law is a positive step to deal seriously with the 59 terrorists,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter.
  • Gargash also said the countries’ concerns about Qatar’s relationship with Iran had eased since Kuwait ordered the expulsion of Iranian diplomats for alleged links to a “spy and terror” cell on Thursday.

04:33pm – Erdogan says Turkey will try to solve GCC crisis

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would do his best to solve problems between the “brothers of the Gulf region” as he prepared to visit Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar on July 23-24.
  • Erdogan has been a staunch ally of Qatar in its dispute with its neighbours. He has criticised a list of demands by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to end sanctions they imposed on Doha.
  • In a speech in Istanbul, Erdogan said the political problems were temporary and he called on Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Gulf states to invest in Turkey.

10:45am – China urges Gulf crisis talks after Qatar FM visit

  • China’s foreign minister has called on Doha and the four Arab countries blockading Qatar to resolve their differences through talks within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), according to Chinese state media.
  • Wang Yi made the remarks after meeting his Qatari counterpart in Beijing on Thursday, a day after he held talks with a top UAE official.
  • “All sides should continue restraint and conduct face-to-face talks as soon as possible, so as to avoid escalation of the situation, send out a positive signal in addressing the crisis through political and diplomatic means, and reassure the role of the GCC,” Wang said.

2:40am – Qatar’s Emir orders changes to law combating terrorism

  • Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has issued a decree amending some provisions of a law on “combating terrorism”, the state news agency reported.
  • The decree issued on Thursday included definitions for the terms “terrorist”, “crime”, “terrorist acts”, “terrorist entities”, “the freezing of funds” and the “financing of terrorism”, according to the Qatar News Agency.
  • Meanwhile at the United Nations, Qatar’s UN ambassador, Alya Ahmed Saif Al Thani, rejected the “baseless accusations” made by Egyptian Deputy UN Ambassador Ihab Awad Moustafa against Doha.
  • Earlier on Thursday, Moustafa told the UN Security Council that Qatar is adopting a “pro-terrorist” policy that violated UN council resolutions, and said it is “shameful” that the 15-member body had not held Qatar accountable.

1am – Qatar says cyberattack ‘originated from the UAE’

  • Qatar’s Ministry of Interior say experts now have evidence showing that the cyberattack on the country’s official media originated from the United Arab Emirates.
  • During a news conference in Doha on Thursday, officials said the planning for the hacking of Qatar News Agency (QNA) started as early as April.
  • Investigators also reportedly traced the IP (internet protocol) address linked to the hacking to the UAE. Officials said the case has been referred to prosecutors.
  • The UAE denies the allegations.

6:10pm – Qatar presents more evidence of hacking

  • Qatar has presented on Thursday new evidence and technical details “confirming direct contact” from one of the blockading countries, leading to the hacking of the country’s official media.
  • Qatar’s Ministry of Interior said the hackers obtained addresses, passwords and emails of state media staff, using them to carry out the attack against Qatar News Agency and its related media accounts.

1:00pm – Qatar FM to meet Chinese counterpart

  • Qatar’s foreign minister is visiting Beijing a day after his Chinese counterpart told a top UAE official that China hoped the rift between the Gulf countries could be repaired.
  • Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani is expected to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday, according to China’s foreign ministry.

9:50am – Qatar to release report on the hacking of Qatar News Agency

  • Qatar’s Ministry of Interior is set to release a report on Thursday on the hacking of its official Qatar News Agency and government social media accounts.

4:25am – Turkish Deputy PM urges Saudi Arabia to drop demands against Qatar

  • Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus called on Saudi Arabia to drop 13 demands it and other Arab states had made of Qatar, saying they represent an infringement on its sovereignty.
  • Speaking in an interview with the Qatar-based Al Jazeera broadcast on Wednesday, Kurtulmus also said: “The UAE must show a stand that is in favour of peace and a settlement and this is in its interest too, otherwise every conflict breeds conflict and no one knows the outcome.”
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar on July 23-24 as part of efforts to resolve the crisis.
  • Kurtulmus also said Turkey had no plans to shut its military base in Qatar, where a fresh contingent of troops arrived on Wednesday, saying it was not aimed against any of Qatar’s neighbours.
  • He also said that Turkey and Qatar were planning to conduct military exercises in coming days and that US forces may join in the exercises.

3:30am – US praises Qatar’s role in fight against ‘terrorism’

  • The US State Department praised Qatar’s “strong partnership” in the fight against “terrorism” in its annual “Country Reports on Terrorism” released on Wednesday.
  • The State Department said Doha had “maintained a strong partnership in the fight against terrorism in 2016 and collaborated to foster closer regional and international cooperation on counterterrorism, law enforcement and rule of law activities”.
  • Qatar, it added, has made “significant progress” in combatting terrorist financing but “terrorist financiers within the country are still able to exploit Qatar’s informal financial system”.
  • The Saudi-led group blockading Qatar accuse it of funding “terrorism”, an accusation Doha rejects as “baseless”.
  • The State Department also said that individuals and “entities” in Saudi Arabia had been channelling money out of the country to “terrorist” organisations but that: “Saudi Arabia continued to maintain a strong counterterrorism relationship with the United States”.
  • The report also mentioned that individuals have made use of the UAE as a financial hub to funnel money out of the country to “terrorist” groups, but that the UAE had increased its counterterrorism prosecutions.

11:15pm – Gulf’s reputation as haven of business stability ‘in jeopardy’, reports FT

  • Most Gulf nationals cannot now travel to or from Qatar; breaking up families and business ties, and dealing a blow to cross-border investments, reported the Financial Times on Wednesday.
  • Businesses say the embargo is causing uncertainty and confusion, and pushing up costs.
  • Contractors are shifting supply chains from the UAE to Oman, which has remained neutral in the dispute – although many can still move materials from the UAE to Qatar, albeit with extra precautions.
  • “The crisis has encouraged companies to think about restructuring to keep UAE and Qatar operations separate,” says one diplomat.
  • Qatari businesses are having to seek alternative sources for some building materials such as aggregate.
  • Mohammed Saleh’s business distributes building materials across the region – the crisis left Qatar-bound cargo stranded in Dubai. He had to take out a loan to pay his supplier, and lost £30,000: “One minute we are doing business with Qatar, the next we are told we are doing business with terrorist financiers,” he said. “It’s all so confusing.”

10:55pm – Qatar faults ‘disorganised’ conduct by Saudi-led group

  • A government official in Qatar has called the Saudi-led group’s conduct “dangerous” and “disorganised” after the four Arab nations modified their demands.
  • Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain called on Qatar on Wednesday to commit to six principles on combatting terrorism, instead of the 13 demands they had initially made.
  • Sheikh Saif Al Thani, director of Qatar’s government communications office, told the Associated Press news agency that the new demands are “another example of the dangerous and disorganised manner in which the illegal blockade has been conducted”.
  • The four countries have regularly issued “conflicting statements and arguments,” he said.

7:55pm – Qatar Hajj pilgrims facing ‘obstacles’

  • The head of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) said the Saudi government was putting obstacles against Qatari citizens who wished to perform the annual Hajj or Pilgrimage.
  • Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri said Saudi Arabia is “inciting” its citizens against Qataris. He also said that Gulf states are rebuffing Qatar’s bid to ease humanitarian impact of the blockade.

5:05pm – Qatar business lobby to assess blockade losses

  • The Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry has asked local companies to report any loss of earnings caused by the Saudi-led blockade of Doha.
  • The business lobby said it would use the information “to take appropriate legal measures” to limit damage, and to help companies claim compensation for any losses.

6:45am – Saudi-led group urges Qatar to accept six ‘principles’

  • Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE are urging Qatar to commit to six ‘principles’ on combating “extremism” and “terrorism”, and to negotiate a plan with specific measures to implement them.
  • Abdallah al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UN, told reporters on Tuesday that the four countries are now committed to the six principles agreed on by their foreign ministers at a July 5 meeting in Cairo.
  • Six ‘principles’:
  • Commitment to combat extremism and terrorism in all their forms and to prevent their financing or providing havens.
  • Suspending all acts of provocation and speeches inciting hatred or violence.
  • Full compliance with the Riyadh Agreement of 2013 and the supplementary agreement and its implementation mechanisms of 2014 within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
  • Adherence to all the outcomes of the Arab Islamic American Summit held in May 2017 in Riyadh.
  • Refraining from interfering in the internal affairs of states and from supporting illegal entities.
  • The responsibility of all states of the international community to confront all forms of extremism and terrorism as a threat to international peace and security.
  • Mouallimi also said that the four Arab states believe that stopping incitement to violence is essential, but he said closing Al Jazeera might not be necessary.
  • “If the only way to achieve that is by closing down Al Jazeera, fine,” he said. “If we can achieve that without closing down Al Jazeera, that’s also fine. The important thing is the objective and the principle involved.”

6:30am – Qatar FM meets with Pakistan PM over Gulf crisis

  • Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed his support for the “efforts in finding a solution to the current crisis in the Gulf”, his office said on Monday.
  • Sharif met with Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in Islamabad on Monday to discuss the rift between Doha and four other Arab states.

4:30am – Another US media outlet reports that the UAE played a role in Qatar hacking

  • Another US media organisation is reporting the United Arab Emirates played a role in the hacking of Qatar’s state news agency. The hack led to fake news being posted about the Qatari Emir.
  • NBC News has cited multiple US intelligence sources confirming a Washington Post article alleging the UAE was behind the attack.
  • The UAE denies involvement.

08:15pm – Qatar weighs seeking damages over Gulf blockade

  • Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar’s economy minister, met on Tuesday with the heads of international trade organisations in Geneva to discuss the compensation.
  • Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah, Qatar’s defence minister, also said the country may even go to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court, in The Hague.
  • Qatar has contracted a specialised legal team to study the actions taken by the blockading countries against it, according to a statement from the economy ministry.

06:15pm – Iran FM Zarif says Gulf divisions slowing ISIL fight

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said divisions in the Gulf region are slowing down the fight against groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).
  • Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Zarif also expressed hope that Iran and Saudi Arabia could one day set aside their difference and work together to end the war in Yemen.
  • “Iran is a serious partner for all these countries in fighting our common enemy, because we believe at the end of the day, these extremist forces are as much as threat against us, but even more a threat against them,” Zarif said.

04:35pm – FIFA: No effort to take away 2022 World Cup

  • The international football federation has denied reports that there is an effort to strip Qatar of the 2022 World Cup.
  • In a statement to Al Jazeera, FIFA said: “The FIFA President has never received such a letter and subsequently has not made any comment on that.”
  • Reuters earlier reported that a group of Arab nations have asked FIFA to take action against Qatar. The website designed to look like a Swiss news publication turned out to be fake and Reuters withdrew the story.

9:50am – Turkey’s Erdogan to visit Gulf next week

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to visit Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar on July 24-25, the president’s office said.

9:45am – Al Jazeera: ‘Business as normal’ despite Gulf crisis

  • Giles Trendle, the acting general manager of Al Jazeera’s English-language service, said the channel is not going anywhere despite demands by Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to close it down.
  • “Obviously it’s an unusual situation but it’s business as normal … we’re just getting on with our jobs,” Trendle said at London’s iconic Frontline Club on Monday.

8:05am – Qatar: No right to ask for closing Turkish base

  • Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, Qatar’s defence minister, said no country has the right to call for the closure of the Turkish base in Doha.
  • In an interview with TRT, al-Attiyah said everyone knew about the Turkish base in Qatar a long time ago.
  • “Unfortunately, we did not choose the time to attack, besiege and boycott Qatar,” he said.
  • The Saudi-led group “did choose the time so they cannot come and ask us to close a base where everybody knows about it from a long time back and this is considered a relation between two sovereign state countries”.

5am – Iran FM: Gulf dispute hampering fight against ‘terrorism’

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said divisions in the Gulf region are hampering the fight against what he called “terrorism”.
  • While speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, he also expressed hope that Iran and Saudi Arabia could one day work together to end the war in Yemen.

10:20pm – Egypt ends visa-free entry for Qatari citizens

  • Egypt’s foreign ministry has announced the end of visa-free entry for Qataris – the latest measure taken against Doha in the Gulf crisis.
  • Qatari nationals will now have to apply for a visa in order to enter Egypt, the ministry said on Monday.
  • “It does not make sense to keep making exceptions for Qatar and giving it privileges in light of its current positions,” said Ahmed Abu Zeid, Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman.
  • The restriction will not affect spouses and children of Egyptian nationals, as well as Qatari nationals who are studying at Egyptian public universities, Abu Zeid said.

9:20pm – Libya’s UN-backed leader: Solving Gulf crisis will benefit Libya

  • Fayez Sarraj, the head of Libya’s UN-backed government, told Russia’s Sputnik that resolution of the Gulf crisis would “positively impact the situation in Libya” as the disputing countries have ties with rival forces in his country.
  • He said he hoped that “this situation between the Arab brothers will be resolved, the crisis will end, and inter-Arab reconciliation will replace it again”.

9:05pm – Egypt tells Kuwait it will keep sanctions against Doha

  • Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has told his Kuwait counterpart that Egypt is standing by the list of demands it and three other Arab states made of Qatar and will keep sanctions against Doha in place until the demands are met.
  • Ahmed Abu Zeid, Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman, said in a statement that the stance comes “in light of what the quartet states see as Qatar’s stalling and procrastination, and lack of concern for the concerns of the four states”.
  • Kuwait’s FM Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah met Shoukry and President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo on Monday.
  • Sisi told Sabah he appreciated what Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah was doing to preserve Arab unity but that Egypt would not let anyone interfere in its affairs and would stand strong against policies that support terrorism, his spokesman Alaa Youssef said in a statement.

8:30pm – Report: Egypt tightens visa rules for Qatar’s citizens

  • Qatar’s citizens will no longer be able to receive visas upon arrival to Egypt, according to an official source at Cairo International Airport quoted by Egypt’s state-run Ahram Online publication.
  • The restriction coming into force on Wednesday will not affect spouses and children of Egyptian nationals, as well as Qatari nationals who are studying at Egyptian public universtities, the report said on Monday.
  • Those affected by the move, including holders of diplomatic or special passports, will have to apply for visas in advance from an Egyptian embassy abroad, said the source on condition of anonymity.
  • Egypt’s foreign ministry has not issued a statement regarding the changes.

4:35pm – Qatar: UAE violated international law by hacking QNA

  • Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al-Thani, the director of Qatar’s government communications office, said in a statement on Monday the “crime” of hacking its state news agency (QNA) by the United Arab Emirates was a violation of international law.
  • “The State of Qatar has long maintained that its government news agency website was hacked on 24 May and fabricated quotes published. The information published in the Washington Post on 16 July 2017, which revealed the involvement of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and senior Emirati officials in the hacking of Qatar News Agency, unequivocally proves that this hacking crime took place.”
  • “It is especially unfortunate that this shameful act of cyber terrorism is being attributed to a fellow member of the Gulf Cooperation Council”.
  • “This criminal act represents a clear violation and breach of international law and of the bilateral and collective agreements signed between the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, as well as collective agreements with the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the United Nations.”
  • “The Public Prosecutor will take all necessary legal measures to bring to justice the perpetrators and instigators of this crime, whether in Qatari courts or relevant international jurisdictions specialising in cybercrimes.”

11:45am – UAE minister denies any hacking of Qatar 

  • Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s state minister for foreign affairs, said his country was not responsible for any alleged hacking of Qatari websites.
  • Gargash also said the UAE would not escalate its blockade on Qatar by asking companies to choose between doing business with it or Qatar.

4:20am – UAE wants international monitoring of Qatar

  • “We need a regional solution and international monitoring,” said Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, in prepared remarks he was scheduled to deliver on Monday in London.
  • “We need to be certain that Qatar, a state with $300bn in reserves, is no longer an official or unofficial sponsor of jihadist and terrorist causes,” he said, giving no further detail on the proposed monitoring. Qatar strongly denies all allegations of supporting “terrorism”.
  • Gargash said the memorandum of understanding signed by the US and Qatar on Tuesday on the financing of terrorism was a positive development but fell short of allaying their concerns
  • “We do see signs now, however, that our pressure is working,” Gargash said. “We are ready for this process to take a long time.”

3:50am – UAE arranged hacking of Qatari media: Washington Post

  • The United Arab Emirates arranged for Qatari government social media and news sites to be hacked in late May in order to post false quotes linked to Qatar’s emir, prompting the Qatar-Gulf diplomatic crisis, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.
  • The Post reported that US intelligence officials learned last week of newly analysed information that showed that senior UAE government officials discussed the planned hacks on May 23, the day before they occurred.
  • The officials said it was unclear if the UAE hacked the websites or paid for them to be carried out, the newspaper reported. The Post did not identify the intelligence officials it spoke to for the report.
  • UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba denied the report in a statement, saying it was “false”.

11:10pm – French FM urges ‘de-escalation’ in Gulf crisis

  • French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called on Sunday for a “de-escalation” in the row between Qatar and four Arab countries, as he held talks in the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, a mediator in the crisis.
  • “It would be preferable if the parties could engage in a process of de-escalation, one that is indispensable so that negotiations can take place in a constructive atmosphere,” Le Drian said in Abu Dhabi.
  • He held talks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, who is also deputy commander in chief of the UAE’s armed forces.
  • Abu Dhabi was the last step in a tour of four Gulf nations that began on Saturday and also took Le Drian to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

4:20pm – French top diplomat meets Kuwait’s Emir

  • Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah met his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on Sunday in Kuwait city, according to Kuwait’s state news agency (KUNA).
  • Le Drian’s visit is part of his effort to resolve the dispute between Qatar and its neighbours which is mediated by Kuwait.

4:15pm – Expert: Qatar should join Rome Statute to protect itself

  • Toby Kidman, an expert in international law on war crimes, human rights, terrorism and extradition, said on Saturday that there was no legal basis for the blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia and three other Arab states and for the list of demands presented by these countries.
  • Speaking to the Qatari daily Al-Sharq, Kidman said that under the international law the measure was illegal and they were purely punitive.
  • He said that the next legal step that must be taken by Qatar during the crisis was to join Rome Statute system and the International Criminal Court as a mean to protect itself.
  • Kidman said that the legal consequences might be stark and the situation might end in the UN Security Council.

11am – French FM arrives in Kuwait

  • French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has arrived in Kuwait as he continues his efforts to end the Gulf crisis.
  • Le Drian was in Doha and Saudi Arabia on Saturday and is expected to travel to the United Arab Emirates later on Sunday.

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