- Foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt say they are ready for dialogue with Qatar if it shows willingness to fight ‘terrorism’.
- Qatar and Saudi Arabia accuse each other of politicising Hajj.
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).
12 August 2017
05:30pm – Qatar to Saudi Arabia: Protect rights of Qatari pilgrims
- Ali Bin Samikh Al Marri of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee has called on Saudi Arabia to make sure its citizens can perform the Hajj without any problems.
- Al Marri said Saudi Arabia should “remove all obstacles and iron out all difficulties”, calling for the establishment of direct flights from Doha to Jeddah, as well as opening of an inland entry port for low-income pilgrims, who cannot afford to travel to Saudi Arabia by air.
- “If those obstacles are not removed, then the Saudi Authorities are proving that are not willing to enable pilgrims from Qatar to perform the Hajj rituals this year.”
2:30pm – Swiss human rights group raises concern of Hajj restrictions on Qataris
- The Swiss Organization for the Protection of Human Rights says Saudi authorities plan to impose contstraints on Qatari citizens attempting to travel to the kingdom to perform the Hajj pilgrimage.
- “Saudi Arabia, by taking such arbitrary measures, which are not based on any moral or legal basis, prevents innocent people who have no relation with all these political differences from performing their religion rituals, which is in violation of international law,” the group said in a statement on Saturday.
1pm – Former liaison between Gulf states and the Taliban: Saudi Arabia keen on Taliban office
- A former Afghan mujahideen fighter says Saudi Arabia was interested in hosting a Taliban office in the country, the Middle East Eye reports.
- Abdullah Anas says he made multiple visits to Saudi Arabia between 2006 and 2008 and met senior officials, including the-then head of intelligence, Prince Muqrin, to help establish a Taliban office.
- He says the meetings were part of an effort to bring all factions in Afghanistan to the table for peace talks.
- Anas is an Algerian who fought under Afghan mujahideen leader Ahmed Shah Massoud.
9 August 2017
6:00pm – Qatar waives visas for 80 nationalities
- Qatar has announced a programme to allow visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries, in order to encourage air transport and tourism.
- Nationals from dozens of countries in Europe and elsewhere including India, Lebanon, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States only need present a valid passport to enter Qatar.
- “The visa exemption scheme will make Qatar the most open country in the region,” Hassan al-Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development officer at Qatar Tourism Authority said.
- Nationals of 33 countries will be allowed to stay for 180 days and the other 47 for up to 30 days.
8 August 2017
11:15pm – Qatar and UPU address disruption in postal service
- Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, Qatar’s minister of transport and communications, met on Tuesday with Bishar Hussein, the director general of the Universal Postal Union (UPU).
- The meeting comes in response to the complaint submitted by Qatar to the UPU, concerning the violations of the constitution and conventions of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) by the blockading countries, which is the first of its kind in the world and a dangerous precedent for the UPU charters.
- The officials discussed the violations of UPU regulations, particularly Article 4 of the Union’s conventions, regarding the freedom of transit of postal and postal mail.
11:10pm – NHRC discusses Gulf crisis with head of Arab Permanent Committee on Human Rights
- Ali bin Smaikh Al Marri, the chairman of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) met in the capital Doha on Tuesday with Amjad Shammout, the head of the Arab Permanent Committee on Human Rights.
- The meeting dealt with the repercussions of the blockade against Qatar on human rights, the humanitarian situation of the citizens of Qatar and its residents, according to Qatar’s state news agency.
- A senior MP of Turkey’s governing party told Al Jazeera that Turkish presence in Qatar creates “a balance in the region” as military forces of the two countries held military exercises.
- “Turkey is protecting its own interests through the base in Qatar, rather than taking sides between the parties at odds. And Ankara’s interests require stability in the region, therefore Turkey would be against an attack on Saudi Arabia as much as Qatar,” Yasin Aktay said on Tuesday.
1:15pm – US envoys arrive in Gulf for talks on GCC crisis
- Two US envoys have arrived in Kuwait at the start of a tour of the Gulf aimed at resolving the GCC crisis.
- Kuwait News Agency reported late on Monday that retired US Marine General Anthony Zinni and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Timothy Lenderking met with Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah.
- The envoys, who will also meet with leaders in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt over the coming days, reiterated US support for Kuwait during the mediation process.
- Qatar Airways flights now have temporary access to a new route over UAE airspace, according to an announcement made on the Federal Aviation Administration’s NOTAM (A Notice to Airmen) database.
- The move follows a meeting last week with the UN aviation agency’s government council. Contingency routes were planned as part of a preliminary agreement reached earlier this month.
- Access to the new route began on Monday and ends on November 9. The route only affects inbound flights.
- Another NOTAM notice indicated that an additional route, effective August 17, may be opened, but no further details were given.
7 August 2017
9:30pm – NCHR: Israel’s decision on Al Jazeera shows its alignment with blockading states
- The National Committee for Human Rights in Qatar has said in a statement on Monday that it considers Israel’s decision to close down the Al Jazeera office “a dangerous precedent illustrating the Israeli occupier’s alignment with actions taken by the countries blockading Qatar, showing their utter disregard for calls by the international community that they respect the right to freedom of expression and opinion and the right to information”.
- “The National Committee for Human Rights in the State of Qatar affirms that it will work with its partner organisations at the International Conference for Freedom of Expression towards international mobilisation to limit such violations by the Israeli occupier and the countries blockading [Qatar] that have affected freedom of expression, and to implement the recommendations from the abovementioned conference.”
7:20pm – StanChart CEO: Gulf rift puts Dubai finance hub at risk
- The boss of Standard Chartered has warned that Dubai risks damaging its status as a financial centre as a result of the trade boycott of Qatar by a Saudi-led bloc, which includes the United Arab Emirates.
- Standard Chartered is a major lender across the Middle East and CEO Bill Winters said it could become increasingly difficult for Dubai to act as a comprehensive regional hub for international companies’ Gulf operations if the tension in the region continued.
- “There is a lot of benefit we get from having a Dubai hub, we are looking to see what the effect of this will be,” he told Reuters. “There is a risk of turning away from the UAE.”
7:15pm – Qatar shipper Milaha plans base in Oman
- Qatar Navigation (Milaha), a top Doha-based shipping and logistics group, said it was moving its regional trans-shipment hub from Dubai to the Omani port of Sohar after a diplomatic crisis in the region disrupted Qatar’s trade.
- Milaha is setting up a warehousing and logistics operation at Sohar, on Oman’s northern coast, and is exploring other opportunities to expand in that country, the company said on Monday.
- The plan suggests Qatar is making long-term preparations to cope with sanctions imposed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.
10:30am – Israel backs Saudi-led bloc’s Al Jazeera stance
- Israel has said that almost all countries in the region are determined that Al Jazeera “supports terrorism, supports religious radicalisation”, echoing the rhetoric of the Arab nations that have shut down the broadcaster.
- Communications Minister Ayoob Kara said on Sunday he plans to revoke the press credentials of Al Jazeera journalists, effectively preventing them from working in Israel.
12:30am – Qatar, Turkey wrap up ‘Iron Shield’ war games
- Qatari and Turkish forces ended a joint military exercise in Doha.
- Brigadier Hadi Rashid Al Shahwani, commander of the exercise, said that the “Iron Shield” included training of leaders to assess the situation, planning, control and coordination between the two forces.
- The Qatar New Agency reported that the exercise was carried out to support counter-terrorism efforts, “extremism and smuggling operations, as well as to maintain security and stability in the region”.
12:15am – Workers in Qatar sent on ‘unpaid extended leave’
- As the blockade on Qatar enters its third month, the Migrant Rights organisation said the effects are “increasingly felt” by migrant workers in the hospitality, construction and shipping industries.
- The Migrant Rights monitor said that in addition to the standard 30 days of paid annual leave, workers have been “asked” to go on “unpaid long leave” for two to three months.
- In one case, a migrant worker at a five-star hotel told the group that six restaurants in the hotel have been closed because of the drop in the number of visitors.
6 August 2017