Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates
Here are all the latest updates to the Qatar-Gulf crisis, now in its ninth month.
- Earlier this month, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said that his country would be willing to participate in a US-GCC summit next spring, provided that the blockading countries’ motivation is based on real will and not coercion.
- 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 has 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 راشد الخاطر (@Lolwah_Alkhater) February 20, 2018
- On Tuesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHRC) Prince Zeid bin Raad 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 Tuesday, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker sent a message to the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) saying that the body needs to do more to resolve restrictions on air routes stemming from the Gulf crisis.
- He also said his airline could nevertheless sustain itself even if the crisis dragged on.
- On Monday, Italian airline carrier 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.
- Together with Qatar Airways, Meridiana said it will expand its fleet with 50 new planes to carry 10 million passengers.
- Qatar’s blockading countries have targeted Qatar Airways by forbidding it from using their airspace, but Qatar Airways has, nonetheless, found alternative routes and expanded its travel network with new international partnerships.
- On Monday, Qatar’s foreign minister confirmed that Qatar would attend the upcoming Arab summit regardless of where it is held: “The state that will host this summit, if it was a [blockade participant] and did not provide the necessary action, it will be the one in violation and not Qatar.”
- In March, Saudi Arabia announced that it would host the next Arab summit, following the UAE’s request to do so. The summit is usually held in March each year, but the date of the next summit has yet to be formally announced.
Munich Security Conference
- 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 #MSC2018today. pic.twitter.com/8WYi8MykDX
— تميم بن حمد (@TamimBinHamad) February 16, 2018
- Also on Friday, Qatar’s blockading countries 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.
- Earlier 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.
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).
Asian Championships League
- 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 requested to play those games in a third country, but the idea was rejected by the Asian Football Confederation which organises the tournament, featuring 32 teams split into eight groups of four.
- “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.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES