Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates

Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates

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

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).

9:45pm – Qatar taps Pakistan market amid Gulf blockade

  • A Qatari shipping company is set to launch what it calls the fastest direct service between Doha and the Pakistani port city of Karachi this week, as the Gulf state seeks to establish new trade routes amid a land, air and sea blockade from its Arab neighbours.
  • State-run conglomerate Milaha is overseeing the weekly venture, with the first vessel due to arrive at the newly inaugurated Hamad Port outside the Qatari capital on September 11 following a transit time of four days – compared to a normally six-to-seven-day journey.
  • “We have been vigorously ramping up our operations between Qatar and key Asian markets in response to growing demand from traders, importers, and exporters on both sides,” said Abdulrahman Essa Al-Mannai, Milaha president and chief executive officer.

9:00pm – ‘So be it’ if rift with Qatar continues for years: Saudi FM

  • Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in London that if the rift with Qatar continued for two years then “so be it”.
  • He also lashed out at Iran, which has supported Qatar in the ongoing crisis, saying Tehran’s talk of a possible rapprochement with the kingdom was “laughable”.
  • “If Iran wants to have good relations with Saudi Arabia, it has to change its policies. It has to respect international law. At this time, we do not see… that they’re serious about wanting to be a good neighbour,” said Jubeir.

3:00pm – France appoints envoy to mediate

  • France’s foreign ministry said that it picked its former ambassador to Saudi Arabia as a special envoy to see how Paris could support mediation efforts in the rift between Qatar and its neighbours.
  • France, which has close ties with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates while also being a major arms supplier to Qatar and a key ally of Saudi Arabia, has been relatively discreet on the crisis, largely sticking to calls for calm.
  • “I confirm that Bertrand Besancenot, diplomatic advisor to the government, will soon go to the region to evaluate the situation and the best ways to support the mediation and appease tensions between Qatar and its neighbours,” Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne told reporters in a daily briefing.

12:00pm – Qatar unveils new trading port 

  • Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has opened the new Hamad Port ahead of schedule as part of a wider plan to achieve food security and economic diversification in line with Qatar National Vision 2030.
    Qatar emir officially inaugurates Hamad Port
  • The inaguration of the new port means larger container ships can go directly to Doha rather than docking in the United Arab Emirates, where cargo was transferred to smaller vessels.
  • The UAE is one of the countries that have imposed a land, air and sea blockade on Qatar.
  • The port, which is playing a vital role in offsetting the impact of the blockade imposed on Qatar since June 5, will provide Qatar with complete independence in its import and export of goods.

7:45pm – Qatar launches direct shipping lines

  • Qatar Ports Management Company, Mwani, has expanded its maritime network by launching several direct shipping lines between Hamad Port and a number of ports in the region.
  • The new routes connect Qatar to Sohar and Salalah ports in Oman, Shuwaikh Port in Kuwait, Karachi port in Pakistan, Izmir port in Turkey, Mundra and Nava Shiva ports in India.

11:15pm – Despite GCC crisis, Gulf tourists flock to rural Turkey

  • The dispute seems to have had little effect on the eastern Black Sea’s now-booming tourism industry. In July, eight cities in Saudi Arabia launched direct flights to Trabzon, the regional hub, to meet demand from Saudi tourists. The UAE and Kuwait also offer direct flights, bypassing the need for tourists to travel through airports in Istanbul.
  • In the first five months of this year, more than 22,000 Arab tourists visited Uzungol, a village with a permanent residential population of fewer than 2,000 people, according to the Trabzon Chamber of Commerce. More than 70 hotels and apartments catering to a range of budgets have sprung up in the village in less than a decade.

10:00pm – ‘Ball in Qatar’s court’, says Saudi prince

  • Qatar could end a political standoff with a Saudi-led group of nations if it stops interfering in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal says.
  • “The ball is in Qatar’s court and they have to perform on that,” the former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency said in an interview with Bloomberg TV from the Ambrosetti Forum in Cernobbio, Italy on Friday.

05:40pm – Qatari FM meets Belgian counterpart in Brussels

  • The foreign ministers of Qatar and Belgium have held talks in the Belgian capital of Brussels about the fight against armed groups and the Gulf’s diplomatic crisis.
  • “We are very open to help … organise a possible dialogue in the region,” Didier Reynders, Belgian foreign minister, said.
  • For his part, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister, said that despite Kuwait’s mediation efforts, blockading nations have not responded since the crisis started 90 days ago.”
  • “There is nothing being provided, neither to Washington nor to Kuwait until now to show any legitimate grievances for all the measures they have taken.

09:05pm – Kuwaiti emir to meet Trump as Gulf crisis continues

  • The emir of Kuwait will hold talks with US President Donald Trump in Washington, DC next week, according to the Kuwaiti state media, as a three-month-old diplomatic crisis splits the Gulf.
  • “They are claiming that Qatar is interfering in their internal politics, there is no any thing against Qatar. Qatar never accepts to interfere to any country’s politics, and doesn’t accept others to interfere in our politics,” said Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdelrahman Al Thani after a meeting with members of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.

06:50pm – Qatari FM: We don’t accept interference in our politics

  • Qatar’s foreign minister has called on the Gulf countries that have cut ties with it to stop attempting to influence his country’s foreign policy.
  • Lavrov’s visit to Kuwait City marks the first high-level diplomatic visit by Russia over the crisis.

10am – ‘No proof’ of claims against Qatar

  • Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told Indian CNN-News18 on Wednesday that Qatar shows zero tolerance towards terrorism, its sympathisers, financers and supporters.
  • Al Thani also said Qatar has been the most developed country in the Gulf region for 20 years. It is home to many foreign universities, the religious landscape is varied and everyone practices his religion freely.
  •  “Qatar has evolved in its own way and the siege we have been facing is an incentive for us to move forward towards development policy”.

00:35am – Trump speaks to Saudi King, urges end to Gulf row

  • US President Donald Trump has held a phone conversation with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and called for a diplomatic resolution to the Gulf crisis, the White House said in a statement.
  • Al Thani also said Qatar has been the most developed country in the Gulf region for 20 years. It is home to many foreign universities, the religious landscape is varied and everyone practices his religion freely.
  •  “The president urged that all parties to the Qatar dispute find a diplomatic resolution that follows through on their commitments made at the Riyadh summit, to maintain unity while fighting terrorism,” the statement said.

06:05pm – IMF says Qatar’s response to sanctions is effective

        • Qatar acted effectively in protecting its economy against sanctions imposed by other Arab countries, an International Monetary Fund official said on Wednesday, after a week-long visit to Doha.
        • “The impact on banks’ balance sheets was mitigated by liquidity injections by the Qatar central bank and increased public sector deposits,” Mohammed El Qorchi said in a statement.
        • “These reactions reflected effective coordination and collaboration among key government agencies,” he said, adding that authorities acted quickly to reroute trade and establish new sources of food supply.

5:30pm – Russia calls for dialogue to resolve Gulf crisis

        • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has expressed Moscow’s support for Kuwait’s mediation efforts to defuse a three-month long diplomatic crisis in the Gulf.
        • “We welcome all initiatives to resolve the Gulf crisis, and we support the Kuwaiti efforts in that direction,” Lavrov said during a joint press conference with his Qatari counterpart.
        • Ibrahim Fraihat, a Qatar-based analyst, said Russia was backing the Kuwaiti initiative in a bid to fill a regional vacuum created by the United States’ lack of clear policy in helping to end the dispute.

1:00pm – Qatari FM: Awaiting response from blockading countries

        • Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal attended the news conference with Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov and Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the Qatari foreign minister:
        • “Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said that his government has called for dialogue with the blockading countries on at least 12 different occasions, whereas the blockading countries are yet to respond to a single request, the most important one coming from the emir of Kuwait, who is trying to mediate in the crisis.
        • “Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have yet to respond either positively or negatively to that request. Sheikh Mohammed said this indicated the lack of cooperation and their insistence to not find a solution to the crisis, and in fact make it drag on as long as possible.”

11:55pm – Asia Pacific Forum backs Qatar’s NHRC

          • The Asia Pacific Forum (APF), a coalition of 24 national human rights institutions from across the region, has expressed its solidarity with Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), following a complaint submitted in Geneva.
          • Saudi Arabia and its allies, which have cut ties with Qatar and imposed a land, sea and air embargo against it, filed the complaint earlier in August in a bid to have the committee stripped of its “A” rating in the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) list. GANHRI has rejected the request.
          • The APF congratulated the NHRC for carrying out its work in a professional matter throughout the crisis and stressed that it is always ready to support it.
          • In its statement, the APF also expressed concern regarding the damages caused by the blockade to thousands of people who have mixed families in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE.

12:15pm – Qatar central bank says banking sector is strong

          • Qatari banks are capable of withstanding the pressure of sanctions imposed by other Arab states, the governor of Qatar’s central bank has said after Fitch Ratings lowered the Gulf state’s credit rating.
          • Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud Al Thani, in a statement on Tuesday, said routine stress tests show the banking sector is strong. Qatari banks are highly solvent, profitable and liquid, he said.
          • The central bank has taken extra measures in response to the sanctions, and believes Fitch Ratings will change its decision in the very near future, the statement added.
          • Fitch cut the country’s credit rating by one notch to AA-minus with a negative outlook on Monday.

7:30pm – Qatar may cut capital spending because of sanctions – Fitch

          • Qatar may be forced to reduce its capital spending on economic projects and infrastructure if damage to its economy from sanctions intensifies, Fitch Ratings has said as it cut the country’s credit rating by one notch to AA-minus with a negative outlook.
          • Fitch noted that even before the sanctions, Qatar had shrunk its capital spending plans for 2014-2024 to $130 billion from $180 billion in response to low oil and gas prices.
          • “The government has prepared scenarios for further cuts to capital spending in case oil prices fall again or in case pressures from the embargo intensify,” it said.
          • Fitch predicted the Qatari government’s net foreign assets would fall to 146 percent of gross domestic product this year from 185 percent last year, as the government moves money into local banks to offset outflows due to the sanctions.

3:30pm – Russia’s FM visiting Gulf Arab states over Qatar crisis

          • Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is in Kuwait at the start of a three-nation tour of Gulf Arab states over the ongoing Qatar diplomatic crisis, where he will also visit Qatar and the UAE.
          • Lavrov’s visit to Kuwait City marks the first high-level diplomatic visit by Russia over the crisis.

9:20pm – UN chief visits Kuwait amid GCC crisis

          • Antonio Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, has visited Kuwait as part of a tour of the Middle East.
          • In a meeting with Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, the UN boss expressed his gratitude to Kuwait for playing the mediator role in the Gulf diplomatic crisis.
          • He said the UN fully supported its position and also praised the country’s leadership for its humanitarian work.

3:15pm – Hamad Port to officially open in September

          • The Ministry of Transport and Communication announced that Hamad Port will be officially inaugurated in the first week of September.
          • In a statement, the ministry said that Hamad Port will be the largest port in the Middle East and will span an area of 28.5 square kilometres.

4:15am – UN Secretary-General expected in Kuwait to discuss Gulf crisis

          • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected in Kuwait on Sunday to discuss the Gulf crisis with Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah.

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