UAE threatens sympathisers with jail
KUWAIT CITY, June 7, (Agencies): HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah continued with commendable efforts to resolve the conflict between Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt with Qatar.
The Amir Wednesday held talks with Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rasheed and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed before proceeding to Doha where he held another meeting with the Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad.
A source quoted a UAE senior official as saying “we appreciate efforts of HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber A-Sabah but our response is the same as what our brothers told him in Jeddah on Tuesday.”
This is an indication that the position of both countries is the same. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have been mounting further pressure on Qatar considering a statement made by the UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Qaraqash, “there’s a possibility that we will impose more sanctions on Qatar which may include new restraints on trade transactions.” He urged Doha to abide strongly by changing its policies before moving into discussing solutions to the bigger diplomatic crisis that has bedeviled the region for several years. He added that Abu Dhabi and Riyadh are working towards changing policies of Qatar and not its regime.
Upon arrival in Saudi Arabia, Bahraini King Hamad bin Essa bin Salman Al-Khalifa urged the Qatari leadership to “correct their policies and honor the pledges” they have made. He said Saudi Arabia has always supported security and stability of Bahrain against interferences of Qatar and Iran. Meanwhile, Qatari Foreign Affairs Minister Mohamed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani denied providing support to the Muslim Brotherhood, affirming “If we are wrong, we will back down”.
He stressed that his country isn’t a super power, so it is open to reconciliation move to solve the crisis. He denied the claim that his country is standing by Iran or supporting sectarian activities. Kuwait, also a GCC member, did not join its neighbours in severing ties with Qatar. The Kuwaiti leader played a pivotal role in mediating a compromise in a 2014 diplomatic dispute between Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf states.
The United Arab Emirates tightened the squeeze on fellow Gulf state Qatar on Wednesday, threatening anyone publishing expressions of sympathy towards Doha with up to 15 years in prison and barring entry to Qataris. UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told Reuters there would be more curbs if necessary and said Qatar needed to make ironclad commitments to change what critics say is a policy on funding Islamist militants.
US President Donald Trump took sides in the rift on Tuesday, praising the actions against Qatar, but later spoke by phone with Saudi King Salman and stressed the need for Gulf unity. His defence secretary, James Mattis, also spoke to his Qatari counterpart to express commitment to the Gulf region’s security. Qatar hosts 8,000 US military personnel at al Udeid, the largest US air base in the Middle East and a launchpad for US-led strikes on Islamic State jihadists.
Qatari nationals will not be allowed to board flights to Dubai or Abu Dhabi because the United Arab Emirates has banned them from passing through its airports after Arab powers cut ties with Qatar, Etihad Airways said on Wednesday.
Foreigners living in Qatar with residence visas will no longer be eligible for visas on arrival into the United Arab Emirates, a spokesman for Etihad Airways added. The United Arab Emirates had already said Qatari nationals would not be allowed to enter the country or cross its points of entry, although the practical effects on airline passengers had been unclear until now.
Qatari nationals will now not be allowed to pass through airports in the UAE even to change planes. “This ruling applies to all airlines flying into the UAE, including Etihad Airways,” the Abu Dhabi-based airline said.
The transit ban on Qataris is stricter than restrictions on Israeli passport holders who are allowed up to 24 hours to change planes at UAE airports, even though Israel and the United Arab Emirates lack diplomatic relations. Emirates, which has its hub in Dubai, did not respond to a request for comment.
Qantas Airways, a codeshare partner of Emirates, said it would not carry Qatari nationals on its flights to Dubai due to the government restrictions. OPSGROUP, an industry flight operations service, said it had advised airlines of a series of restrictions on Qatari nationals, including a ban on transit through the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Qatar Airways has cancelled all of its flights to those countries, which had averaged 55 a day before the diplomatic dispute, according to analysis published by CAPA Centre for Aviation.
The airline’s website says it has offered refunds or rebookings to affected passengers. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had been Qatar Airways’ largest markets by the number of available seats and the loss of the four Arab markets could lead to a double-digit revenue decline for the carrier, CAPA said. “A more long-term effect will be that passengers will shy away from booking with Qatar Airways,” Leeham Co analyst Bjorn Ferhm said in a note published on Wednesday.
“This is the strongest accusation to date of Qatar being connected with terrorism. Many travellers and corporate accounts could blacklist Qatar Airways.” Qatar Airways did not respond immediately to a request for comment. Indonesia on Wednesday said it had diverted Muslim pilgrims to Saudi Arabia to other airlines. An Islamic Religious Council of Singapore spokesman said alternative flights to Saudi Arabia were being sought, with less than 200 people affected. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain revoked the licences of Qatar Airways on Tuesday and ordered its offices to be closed within 48 hours. The transit restrictions follow from the cutting of all transport links with Qatar as part of the coordinated action. The rift has affected global oil prices, hit travel plans and sown confusion among businesses.
Filipinos who have job contracts in Qatar will be allowed to go there, the Philippine labour secretary said on Wednesday, scrapping a previously announced ban on the deployment of workers there. Silvestre Bello said the processing of new applications would remain temporarily suspended as the government awaits “further developments” following the severing of diplomatic ties with Qatar by the Arab world’s biggest powers. Bello banned workers going to Qatar on Tuesday but he told Reuters he had been assured by Philippine labour officials in Qatar that conditions there were “normal” and that there was no reason to be concerned about safety.
More than 2 million people from the Philippines are working in the Middle East as domestic helpers, construction workers, engineers and nurses, with Qatar hosting 250,000 and Saudi Arabia hosting almost a million. Filipinos working in the Middle East sent home $7.6 billion in remittances in 2016, making the region a major source of foreign exchange inflows, which help drive one of Asia’s fastest growing economies.