- 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)
8 August 2017
12.30am – 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.
- He said: “When we see that all these countries [the have determined as fact that Al-Jazeera is a tool of the Islamic State [of Iraq and the Levant], Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, and we are the only one who have not determined that then something delusional is happening here.”
7 August 2017
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
- The closure of Qatar’s land border with Saudi Arabia has effectively stopped the import and export businesses of many Qatari truck companies.
- Business owners, who have complained about less work and higher rents, are hoping the problem is resolved soon.
- “We have been affected since the first minute,” Saeed Fadal Ali Al-Kaabi, director of Al Fadal Transport and Trading, told Al Jazeera.
- “We are losing money and work is very slow,” he said. “We’re hardly using any trucks.”
- US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has asked two officials, including retired general and former Middle East envoy Anthony Zinni, to work on ending the Gulf diplomatic crisis.
- “There’s only so much you can do with telephone persuasion,” Tillerson said last week, after vowing to send the duo to mediate.
- Gerald Feierstein, former US ambassador to Yemen, backed Tillerson’s choice of Zinni as a mediator.
- “He’s a man with tremendous experience and knowledge,” he said. “Hopefully, with sustained effort from the US, we will find a solution.”
5 August 2017
- Two months after the blockade was announced, local businessmen say it has created new opportunities for the country.
- At Don Construction Products workload has doubled in the last few weeks as the company tries to step up its manufacturing of construction chemicals.
- Abdulla Hamad al-Attiyah, assistant president at Ashghal public works authority, told Al Jazeera work continues on projects related to the World Cup 2022. He said contracts with $1.7bn have been signed after the blockade was announced.
6:30am – Turkey discusses trade routes with Qatar through Iran
- Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said on Friday Ankara, Doha and Tehran hope to reach a tripartite agreement on transporting Turkish products to Qatar in a practical and cost-effective way.
- “We’re thinking about alternatives for land trade routes with Qatar,” Zeybekci told Anadolu Agency adding that the easiest way is passing through Iran.
- He pointed that using cargo planes to carry Turkish products to Doha was not sustainable.
- “Shipment by sea will gain importance. We foresee that at least four large tonnage ships would go to Qatar monthly but the land route is an alternative for carrying flexible and smaller packages,” Zeybekci added noting that the easiest option is sending these packages through Iran.
4 August 2017
12:05am – WTO confirms Qatar filed complaints against Saudi-led group
- The World Trade Organization has confirmed that Doha has filed complaints against the Saudi-led group that is imposing a blockade on Qatar.
- “Qatar has requested WTO dispute consultations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia concerning measures adopted by the three allegedly restricting trade in goods and services from Qatar, and trade-related intellectual property rights,” the WTO said on its website on Friday.
- In its complaints against each country, Qatar accused them of adopting measures that are “coercive attempts at economic isolation.”
3 August 2017
1:15pm – Saudi-led bloc to discuss Al Jazeera’s free speech complaint
- Officials from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt are set to discuss a complaint lodged by Al Jazeera over the closure of its offices in the four countries.
- Media ministers will meet in Jeddah on Thursday to respond to Al Jazeera’s concerns over free speech, Makram Mohammed Ahmed, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council for Organisation of Information, told the state-run MENA news agency.
- The states boycotting Qatar have demanded the closure of Al Jazeera.
12:10pm – Trump’s tweets on Qatar ‘sent advisers scrambling to reshape policy’
- A tweet by Donald Trump accusing Qatar of “funding terrorism” was among several social media updates by the president that sent advisers scrambling, the Associated Press reported.
- Citing two policymakers involved in talks about how to defuse tensions between Qatar and other Arab nations, the news agency said aides had no choice but to rework their plans to reflect Trump’s tweet half-way through discussions.
- Policymakers hope John Kelly, Trump’s new chief of staff, can convince the president to tone down tweets at odds with administration policy
- Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said that a public pronouncement that undermines existing policy creates mistrust and “corrodes morale at the bureaus and agencies”.
- Qatar on Wednesday created a new permanent residents status for certain groups of foreigners, including those who have worked for the benefit of the emirate.
- In a first for the Gulf, Qatar’s cabinet ministers approved the measures, the official QNA press agency reported, in a move that will likely affect tens of thousands of resident foreigners.
- Under the new rules, children with a Qatari mother and a foreign father can benefit from the new status along with foreign residents who have “given service to Qatar” or have “skills that can benefit the country,” the agency said.
- Those deemed eligible for the new status will be afforded the same access as Qataris to free public services, such as health and education, and will also receive preferable treatment for jobs in the administration and armed services as well as being able to own their own properties and exercise some commercial activities without the need for a Qatari partner.
- Qatar has a population of 2.4 million people, 90 percent of whom are foreigners, including many from Southeast Asia working in construction.
2 August 2017
2:30pm – Qatar seals $5.9bn navy vessels deal with Italy
- The foreign ministers of Qatar and Italy promising to strengthen bilateral relations on Wednesday, as Doha announced signing a deal worth 5bn Euros ($5.9bn) with Italy for seven navy vessels.
- Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani made the announcement at a news conference with his Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano in the Qatari capital.
- Of the current crisis, Alfano said Italy supported mediation efforts to end the dispute.
- Alfano also said he was concerned for citizens in the region who were suffering as a result of the fallout.
8:00am – UAE says measures against Qatar do not violate WTO agreements
- Economic sanctions imposed on Qatar by three fellow Gulf states do not violate World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements, a UAE official said, after Doha launched a wide-ranging legal complaint at the Geneva-based body this week.
- “The sanctions imposed by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain did not contradict the agreements of the WTO,” UAE state news agency WAM quoted Juma Mohammed al-Kait, an assistant undersecretary in the Economy Ministry as saying.
- In what appeared to be the first response to the Qatari move, Kait said the boycott was in line with articles 21 and article 14 of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which allow such moves in the case of security exceptions.
5:25am – Tillerson sends senior envoys to handle Qatar crisis
- US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has asked two officials, including retired general and former Middle East envoy Anthony Zinni, to work to end the Gulf diplomatic crisis reported AFP news agency on Wednesday.
- Tillerson told reporters that Qatar is so far fulfilling its commitment to the United States, but that he had sent senior US diplomat Tim Lenderking to the region to push for progress.
- “And I’ve also asked retired General Anthony Zinni to go with Tim so that we can maintain a constant pressure on the ground because I think that’s what it’s going to take,” he said. “There’s only so much you can do with telephone persuasion.”
- Zinni, 73, was a marine general who once commanded US forces in the Middle East. After the military he served as special envoy to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
1 August 2017
- Qatar’s Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah says the future of the Gulf Cooperation Council is in doubt if the partial blockade of his country continues.
- Speaking to Al Jazeera, Al Attiyah says the continuing political stalemate is not helping anyone. But he believes there is some sign of movement.
9:05pm – Turkey, Qatar launch joint military exercises
- Turkey and its main regional ally Qatar on Tuesday launched military exercises in the emirate that will involve about 250 Turkish troops and 30 armoured vehicles, reports said on Tuesday.
- Turkish state media said that the Turkish frigate TCG Gokova had docked in Doha earlier this week carrying 214 soldiers who would take part in the exercises.
- The exercises got under way on Tuesday and would intially involve ground forces with naval forces later on, NTV television said. An observation day involving top commanders would take place on August 7-8, it added.
8:30pm – Swiss rights body demands end of Hajj restrictions
- The Swiss Organisation for the Protection of Human Rights (SOPHR) has demanded the Saudi authorities to lift all of the restrictions imposed on the right to worship and to perform religious rituals.
- All violations committed during the days of the siege, including obstructing the performance of religious rites, are systematic violations that places those responsible under provisions of international law, SOPHR said in a press release on Tuesday.
- Qatar Airways is expected to have access to three contingency routes over international waters in early August, after a UN-led meeting on Monday discussed air corridors for Doha following a rift with its neighbours.
- The closed-door meeting with the UN aviation agency’s governing council in Montreal, discussed contingency routes that had been planned as part of a preliminary agreement reached earlier this month, but not yet opened to Qatar-registered planes.
- “Within a week or so they should have new routes,” said a source, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, because the talks are private.
- The New York Times reported on Monday that the UAE tried to get the Taliban to open an embassy in its capital rather than in Doha.
- “The Emirati ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, even received “an angry phone call” from the foreign minister at the time complaining that the Taliban had ended up in Qatar and not the UAE,” the newspaper said.
- The reports come from leaked emails between the UAE’s ambassador and US officials.
- One of the complaints against Qatar in the Gulf crisis is its alleged support for so-called “terrorist groups” – citing the 2013 opening of a Taliban embassy in the Qatari capital, Doha as an example.
- A senior Taliban official later lauded Qatar’s role in Afghan peace talks, in an exlclusive interview with Al Jazeera.
2:40am – ICAO calls on member states to comply with Chicago Convention on International Aviation
- The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on Monday called on all member-states to comply with the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation and its addendums, reported Qatar News Agency.
- The ICAO executive council held an extraordinary session in its headquarters in Montreal, to review a casefile presented by Qatar on the damages the siege countries have caused to aviation and flight safety.
- Qatari Minister of Transport and Communications Jassim bin Saif Al Sulaiti said the technical file presented by Qatar to the ICAO pushed the siege countries to waiver and open up seven international emergency air corridors for Qatari flight.
- Al Sulaiti said that Qatar’s main goal at the session had been that all states should adhere to the Chicago agreement: “The organisation insisted on using the word ‘adhere’ because there was a violation of international safety and security. This is what the international community and the states represented think.”
- The minister also noted that the next step will be requesting that the airspace above the siege countries is opened up as well, in line with the rights guaranteed by the Chicago convention.
31 July 2017
7:55pm – Qatar launches WTO complaint against trade boycott
- Qatar has filed a wide-ranging legal complaint at the World Trade Organisation to challenge a trade boycott by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, Qatar’s WTO representative Ali Alwaleed Al Thani told Reuters news agency.
- By formally “requesting consultations” with the three countries, the first step in a trade dispute, Qatar triggered a 60-day deadline for them to settle the complaint or face litigation at the WTO and potential retaliatory trade sanctions.
- “The consultation request is to discuss and clarify the legality of these measures and find a way to bring them into conformity with their commitments,” Al Thani said.
- “We have always called for dialogue, for negotiations, and this is part of our strategy to talk to the members concerned and to gain more information on these measures, the legality of these measures, and to find a solution to resolve the dispute.”
7:40pm – NHRC sends letters to UN on Hajj obstacles
- The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) in Qatar says it has sent a letter to the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief on the obstacles faced by Qatar’s citizens and residents who want to do Hajj in Saudi Arabia.
- It also said in statement that it sent similar letters to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Arab League in order to explain the violations related to the right to practicing religious rituals.
- NHRC said the Saudi authorities allowed the pilgrims to reach the holy sites through two airports only and on connection flights, did not clarify mechanisms for financial transfers and declined to communicate with Qatar on the safety guarantees.
- Qatar’s foreign minister has rebutted accusations by his Saudi counterpart that Qatar is trying to politicise the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca.
- “Qatar never politicised the issue of Hajj,” he told Al Jazeera on Sunday.
- “It was Saudi Arabia trying to politicise the Hajj pilgrimage amid the Gulf crisis. There has been no suggestion by any Qatari official about internationalising the issue,” he said.
- Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, appeared to accuse Qatar on Sunday of politicising the issue and “declaring a war” against the kingdom by demanding the internationalisation of the Hajj.
1:40pm – Poll shows improved sentiment towards Qatar
- Middle East fund managers have become more positive on regional equities and have a balanced view on Qatar following a drop in valuations and as the shock of the sanctions imposed on Doha eases, a monthly poll by the Reuters news agency shows.
- The poll of 13 leading fund managers, conducted over the past week, found 38 percent expected to increase their allocations to regional equities over the next three months and none to reduce them.
- The poll showed significantly improved sentiment towards Qatar. Twenty-three percent of managers now expect to raise their Qatari equity allocations and 23 percent to reduce them. Last month, the respective figures were eight percent and 38 percent.
- Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani dismissed Sunday’s statement from the four countries and said sanctions were violating international laws.
- “There isn’t a clear vision (from Manama’s meeting), there is only a stubborn policy from the blockading countries and refusal to admit that these are illegal actions,” Sheikh Mohammed told Al Jazeera.
- “It’s a continuation of a policy of intransigence.”