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Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates

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Qatar-Gulf crisis: All the latest updates
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An air, sea and land blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt is now in its sixth month.

Qatar

Seven months ago, an air, sea and land blockade was imposed on Qatar by neighbouring countries. Here are the latest developments as of Tuesday, February 13:

Football and diplomacy 

  • On Monday, Al Gharafa of Qatar opened its Asian Championships League campaign in Abu Dhabi against Al Jazira of United Arab Emirates. 
  • 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 soccer federations of the UAE and Saudi Arabia accepted the decision though expressed reservations about how it had been made.

 Anti-Qatar conference

  • On Sunday, a report on Buzzfeed revealed that Daniel Kawczynski, a British parliamentarian, was paid 15,000 British pounds ($20,700) to help organise an anti-Qatar conference in London.
  • At the time, analysts described the conference as an attempt to gather support for a coup in Qatar and accused Saudi Arabia and the UAE of funding it.

 Russian president's invitation 

  • On Wednesday, the Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani met the President of the Russian Republic of Ingushetia Yunus-bek Yevkurov in Doha. 
  • During the meeting, they reviewed the relations between Qatar and Ingushetia and discussed aspects of cooperation in economic, trade and investment, as well as means of developing them.
  • President Yunus-bek Yevkurov handed a written message from Russian President Vladimir Putin, including an invitation to visit Russia. 

Calls to end the blockade

  • On Tuesday, local media reported that Dr Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri, Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), called on the European Union countries and some other nations to join international human rights organisations demanding an immediate end to the blockade imposed on Qatar.

Louvre Map

  • On Monday, Qatar's National Human Rights Committee reported that the Louvre museum apologised and opened an official inquiry into the incident where Abu Dhabi's Louvre Museum map omitted the Qatari Peninsula. 

Bilateral agreements 

  • Anti-terrorism: On Monday, both countries held a session of official talks and signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the "fight against terrorism" and organised crime." 
  • Sierra Leone: On Monday, both countries signed an agreement encouraging and protecting mutual investments and an agreement on air services between the two governments.
  • Sierra Leone was not among the eight countries that downgraded ties with Qatar at the start of the crisis. 

January 27 - February 02 

Military intention

  • On Friday, Qatar's Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had intentions to invade Qatar at the beginning of a diplomatic crisis that erupted in June.
  • In an interview with the Washington Post on Friday, al-Attiyah said his Gulf neighbours have "tried everything" to destabilise the country, but their intentions to invade were "[defused]" by Qatar.
  • "They tried to provoke the tribes. They used mosques against us. Then they tried to get some puppets to bring in and replace our leaders," the minister said. 

Qatar-Turkey relations

  • On Wednesday, Fikret Ozer, Turkish ambassador to Qatar said the country plans to deploy air and naval forces to Qatar in addition to ground troops that are already stationed in the country. 
  • "According to the agreement signed between Qatar and Turkey in 2014, all ground, air, and naval forces will be deployed to Qatar," he told reporters at a press conference in Doha. Ankara and Doha would determine the "timeline of the construction of the necessary infrastructure and when these forces will be deployed through talks", he said.

UN report

  • On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt condemned the results of a report by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (OHCHR), on how severing diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar has affected the country.
  • The countries also noted that it was within their "sovereign right" to cut ties with Doha in order to protect their national security interests.

Al Udeid base

  • On Monday, Qatar's Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah said that Qatar will expand the US airbase at Al Udeid. 
  • "It will very soon become family-oriented place for our American friends there. We want more of the families to be stable and feel more comfortable in their stay," al-Attiyah said at an event in Washington.

Qatar-US dialogue 

  • On Thursday, Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said that his country is 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 Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on all sides in the dispute to work to calm tensions, saying a united Gulf Cooperation Council bolstered regional stability.
  • "It is critical that all parties minimise rhetoric, exercise restraint to avoid further escalation and work towards a resolution," Tillerson said. 
  • According to a government statement, the US-Qatar strategic dialogue initiative is aimed at stepping up cooperation between the two countries, "which share long-standing strategic interests at the political, economic, security, educational and cultural levels".

January 21 - 26

Asian Champions League

  • On Saturday, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said it rejected Saudi Arabia's request to have all matches against Qatar moved to a neutral territory.
  • "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," AFC said in a statement published on its website.

Qatar-UAE condolences

  • Mother's death. On Sunday, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani sent a cable of condolences to the President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan on the death of his mother, according to Qatar's news agency QNA. 
  • First contact. This cable of condolences is the first direct cable to be publicly announced between Qatar and the UAE since the beginning of the crisis, in which Kuwait assumed the mediator role.
  • The UAE has cut all relations with Qatar in June 2017 and has been accused by Qatar of plotting to undermine Qatar's currency.
  • In September 2017, Qatar's emir and the Saudi crown prince reportedly had a phone call in which the two expressed a willingness to discuss an end to the rift. As reported by state media from both countries, this was the first official contact between Doha and Riyadh since the crisis began.

Slave trade protests

  • UAE embassies. Protesters gathered outside the United Arab Emirates' embassies in London, Paris and Washington, DC, on Saturday to demonstrate against slavery and alleged abuses of migrants in Libya. Protesters also called for a boycott of the UAE, the main sponsor of the splintered government in the north African country's east region were most of the abuses have been reported.
  • George Greene, a protest leader with "Boycott UAE", told Al Jazeera that the UAE was culpable for Libya's slave trade.
  • UAE backing. "There's a massive slave market in the Libyan city of Benghazi which is governed by a general backed by the UAE. The UAE is responsible for all of what happens there.
  • "Also, the Emirati city of Dubai has long been a city where women and girls from Nigeria, Liberia, etc., are trafficked. It has done little to combat the enslavement of Africans. It is for these reasons we believe the UAE has to be isolated and boycotted," he said.

World Cup 

  • On Thursday, the minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told agencies that Qatar is confident it will host a successful event in 2022 despite the boycott.
  • Qatar's economy is now growing much faster than anticipated and the country is well prepared to withstand the crisis in relations with its neighbours, Al Thani said. 

Blockade impact

  • Essential medicines. On Wednesday, EuroMed, a human rights organisation said supplies of essential medical equipment and medicines, including essential antivenom doses, are not reaching Qatar due to the blockade. 
  • "The UAE have been a key player in the blockade, and their actions have had a special impact on medicine, commercial trade and separation of families, just to name a few," Sara Pritchett, Spokesperson for EuroMed said.

Kuwait-Saudi relations

  • Kuwait denies summoning ambassador. On Wednesday, Kuwait's news agency cited a source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dismissing reports that it had summoned the Saudi ambassador to Kuwait.
  • According to the news agency, the meeting between the Saudi diplomat and Kuwait's Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah was "just an ordinary meeting" for "talks on bilateral relations and the latest regional developments".
  • Saudi tweet. Last week, Saudi Arabia's Sports Authority Chairman Turki Al al-Sheikh criticised Kuwait's Minister of State for Youth Affairs Khaled al-Roudhan as "mercenary", for statements al-Roudhan made during his meeting with Qatar's emir.

UAE-Qatar tensions

  • No escalation. On Tuesday, Brigadier General Helal Saad al-Qubaisi of the United Arab Emirates Air Force said that he had instructions not to escalate the ongoing crisis with Qatar.
  • UAE military aircraft will fly alternative routes over Saudi Arabia to avoid the possibility of interception by Qatari warplanes, al-Qubaisi told reporters at a news conference in Abu Dhabi.

Louvre map

  • Map replaced. On Monday, Louvre Abu Dhabi replaced a controversial map of the Gulf that omitted Qatar.
  • "In this instance, the map represented the road of exchange of an ancient vase. The inaccuracy was an oversight, and so we have replaced the map on display," a statement from the museum read.
  • Qatar omitted from Gulf map. Last Thursday, the director of the Washington Institute Simon Henderson noted that in "Abu Dhabi's Louvre Museum, a map of the southern Gulf completely omits the Qatari peninsula - a geographical deletion that is probably incompatible with France's agreement to let Abu Dhabi use the Louvre's name".
  • The UAE's Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash and the Chairperson of Qatar's Museum Authority Al Mayassa Al Thani commented on Twitter about the map.

Riyadh meeting 

  • On Monday, the ministers of foreign affairs of the four blockading countries met in Riyadh to affirm "their full solidarity with each other", as reported by Saudi Arabia's Al Arabiya broadcaster.
  • The ministers also confirmed their position on the 13 demands they had put forward to normalise relations with Qatar. 

Qatar's defence

  • Visit to Mali. On Monday, Qatar's Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah met Malian Defence Minister Tiena Coulibaly to discuss bilateral relations in the military and defence fields.
  • In December 2017, the emir of Qatar visited Mali as part of a tour in six West African countries. It was his first visit to the region since assuming office in 2013. 
  • Recently, Qatar's defence minister also held meetings in Kuwait and the UK. 

Kuwait-Qatar relations

  • Sports cooperation. On Sunday, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani received Kuwait's Minister of State for Youth Affairs Khaled al-Roudhan, to discuss relations between the two countries in sports.
  • ِAl-Roudhan also thanked Qatar for its contribution to lifting FIFA's suspension of the Kuwait Football Association, and for agreeing to move the 23rd Gulf Cup to Kuwait.
  • Saudi Arabia's Sports Authority Chairman Turki Al al-Sheikh criticised al-Roudhan's statements in a tweet, describing al-Roudhan as "mercenary".
  • Defence meeting. Also on Sunday, Qatar's Defence Minister Khaled al-Attiyah left Kuwait after an official visit. 
  • In November 2017, Qatar opened a military liaison office in Kuwait to "strengthen the bond […] between Qatar's armed forces and Kuwait's military command" according to Qatar's military attache in Kuwait.

 


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