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Qatar-Gulf crisis updates

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Iran sent five planes of food to Qatar, Iran's national carrier confirmed on Sunday, days after Gulf countries cut off air and other transport links to the emirate amid an escalating diplomatic crisis.
Some 90 tonnes of food was sent to Doha, Iran Air spokesman Shahrokh Noushabadi said, reported The New Arab (UK).

"So far five planes carrying perishable food items such as fruit and vegetables have been sent to Qatar, each carrying around 90 tonnes of cargo, while another plane will be sent today,” Noushabadi said.

"We will continue deliveries as long as there is demand" from Qatar, Noushabadi added, without mentioning if these deliveries were exports or aid.

Three ships loaded with 350 tonnes of food were also set to leave an Iranian port for Qatar, the Tasnim news agency quoted a local official as saying.
The port of Dayyer is Iran's closest port to Qatar.

In the biggest diplomatic crisis in the region in years, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, plus Egypt and Yemen, on Monday announced they were cutting all ties with Qatar, accusing it of allegedly supporting extremism and having good ties with Saudi Arabia’s regional-rival Iran.

While Iran has urged Qatar and neighbouring Gulf countries to engage in dialogue to resolve their dispute, the Islamic republic has also opened its airspace to about 100 more Qatari flights a day, after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates banned Qatari planes from their airspace.

The new flights have increased Iranian air traffic by 17 percent, the official state news agency has reported.

On Saturday, Amnesty International warned of the "heartbreak and fear" being suffered by potentially thousands of ordinary individuals because of the political dispute in the Gulf that has isolated Doha.

"Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are toying with the lives of thousands of Gulf residents as part of their dispute with Qatar, splitting up families and destroying people's livelihoods and education," the London-based human rights watchdog said.

"For potentially thousands of people across the Gulf, the effect of the steps imposed in the wake of this political dispute is suffering, heartbreak and fear," said James Lynch, deputy director of Amnesty's Global Issues Programme, who was in Doha last week.

"These drastic measures are already having a brutal effect, splitting children from parents and husbands from wives," said Amnesty after its researchers interviewed dozens of people affected by the crisis.
"People from across the region... risk losing jobs and having their education disrupted."

Amnesty, quoting Qatar's National Human Rights Committee, said more than 11,000 nationals of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE live in Qatar, while many Qataris are residents of the three other Gulf states.

Amnesty also pointed out that Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had warned of harsh punishments, including up to 15 years in jail, "if they dare to criticise these measures" against Qatar.

"Prosecuting anyone on this basis would be a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression. No one should be punished for peacefully expressing their views or criticising a government decision," said Lynch.


Qatari groups said Saturday they will take legal action against a number of Gulf states that have issued a blockade against the country, reported Anadolu Agency (Turkey).

The head of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) Ali bin Smaikh Al Marri said his organization would hire an international law firm to address damages the blockade has caused to citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The moves by the Gulf states amounts to a “collective punishment and international crime”, al Marri said at a press conference.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Yemen on Monday cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism. They also imposed a land, sea, and air blockade.
A joint declaration on Thursday accused 59 individuals and 12 charity groups in Qatar of being “linked to terror”.

Qatar’s Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities (RACA), one of the accused organizations, condemned the accusations in a written statement.
RACA said legal action would be taken to protect the humanitarian working area and some of the blacklisted organizations have never faced such accusations from any of the more than 70 countries they have operated in.

Several organizations on the list have been praised for their development projects and humanitarian work with the UN, RACA added.

Separately, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ordered affected families that are citizens of Qatar and Saudi Arabia will be given humanitarian aid, the SPA News Agency said Saturday.


The latest developments since four Arab countries cut ties with Qatar on Monday morning. (All times local.) – reported Al Jazeera (Qatar).

4:35pm: Qatar hosted Taliban 'at request of US government'
Qatar hosted the Taliban at the request of the US government, the special envoy on counterterrorism for Qatar's foreign minister told Al Jazeera.
Mutlaw Al Qahtani said the Gulf country hosted the Taliban "by request by the US government" and as part of Qatar's "open-door policy, to facilitate talks, to mediate and to bring peace".
He added that Qatar "was facilitating the talks between the Americans, the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan".

The Taliban opened its "political office" in Qatar in 2013.
3:13pm: Inside Story - Blockade on Qatar 'toying' with people's lives
Human rights group Amnesty International has condemned the blockade taken by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain against Qatar, saying the countries are toying with the lives of thousands of Gulf residents as part of their dispute with Qatar.
On Monday, the three Gulf countries ordered Qatari nationals to leave their countries within 14 days.
Their citizens were also given the same time to leave Qatar. As a result, hundreds of mixed-families are facing the grim prospect of being separated from their loved ones.

The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has urged Saudi Arabia and its allies to ease their blockade on Qatar, saying it is causing unintended humanitarian consequences.
So, how can human rights be protected in the political crisis? Watch Inside Story here.

2:55pm - Kuwait: Qatar ready to heal Gulf rift
Kuwait on Sunday said that Qatar is willing to hold a dialogue with Gulf Arab countries that cut ties with it and was ready to listen to their concerns, in the latest twist of a major diplomatic rift.
"(Kuwait) affirms the readiness of the brothers in Qatar to understand the reality of the qualms and concerns of their brothers and to heed the noble endeavours to enhance security and stability," Kuwait's state-run KUNA news agency quoted Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah as saying on Sunday.

12:25pm - Ethiopia support Kuwait's mediation initiative
Ethiopia said it backs Kuwait's mediation efforts to end the Qatar-Gulf diplomatic dispute, adding it will play a constructive role for a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

In a statement carried by state media on Saturday, Ethiopia's foreign ministry said it did not support any kind of negative media reports that incite instability in countries.
The ministry also said it will continue working together with countries to fight against the "global threat of terrorism".

Kuwait and Oman, also members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, did not join Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in severing ties with Qatar. In recent days, Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, has held talks with Gulf leaders as part of an initiative to resolve the crisis.

11:45am - Qatar's charity body denies 'terrorism' allegations
The official overseer of Qatar's charities rejected allegations that charitable groups in the country supported "terrorism" following the release of a blacklist by four Arab countries.
"The Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities (RACA) deplores the accusation that Qatari humanitarian organisations support terrorism," the body said in an official statement on Sunday.
RACA has succeeded in protecting NGOs based in Doha "from the risk of being exploited to launder money and finance terrorism", it said, adding that it is prepared to take legal action against the Arab states to protect the humanitarian work its charities do.

10:21am - Iran Air says five planes of food have arrived to Qatar
Iran's national carrier says that five planes of food exports, including fruit and vegetables, have been sent to Qatar, which has been hit by a land, air and sea blockade imposed by three Arab Gulf countries.
Each aircraft carried around 90 tonnes of cargo, "while another plane will be sent today," Iran Air spokesman Shahrokh Noushabadi told the AFP news agency on Sunday.
Three ships loaded with 350 tonnes of food were also set to leave an Iranian port for Qatar, the Tasnim news agency quoted a local official as saying.
Food imports were affected after Saudi Arabia ordered the closure of Qatar's only land border.
Qatar, which relies heavily on food imports, assured residents it has taken measures to ensure that normal life continues.

8:49am - Gulf countries announce hotline for mixed Qatari families
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which have cut ties with Qatar, announced via state media on Sunday the creation of hotlines to help families with Qatari members.
The statements carried by their official news agencies did not specify what services the hotline would provide.

The moves against Qatar include a land, air and sea blockade, as well as a ban on Qatari citizens from entering the three countries. Qatari nationals were also ordered to leave within 14 days, leaving hundreds of mixed-citizenship Qatari couples with the grim prospect of being split from their families.

Amnesty International criticised the measures as sweeping and arbitrary and said they had split up families and destroyed peoples' livelihoods and education. Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee has also said that the Saudi-led move went far beyond a simple diplomatic dispute and will break up families and disrupt young people’s education.

7:37am - Turkish PM warns of global consequences
Binali Yildirim, Turkey's prime minister, said on Saturday the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf could turn into a global problem if tensions flare.
"A new problem area that may be created here [in Qatar] would not be limited inside the region," Yildirim told a fast-breaking dinner in Istanbul.
"The risk of this issue becoming a global problem is very high due to the geostrategic nature of the region. We call on the parties in the tension to act responsibly and contribute to reducing the tension rather than increasing it".
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has previously requested the full removal of a Saudi-led blockade of Qatar and has approved the deployment of Turkish troops there.

7:25am - Qatar to hire international law firm to seek reparations for those hit from blockade
Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) is working to hire an international law firm to handle cases related to Qatari and Gulf Cooperation Council citizens who sought legal help after being affected by the blockade and embargo imposed on Qatar.
Ali bin Sumaikh Al Marri, NHRC chairman, said the law firm will sue and request damages from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at national courts, Qatar News Agency reported.

2:17am - Reported blocking of Qatari pilgrim at the Holy Mosque condemnded
The Al Sharq newspaper reported Qatar's National Commission for Human Rights (NHRC) received a complaint from a Qatari citizen that Qatari pilgrims were barred from entering the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.
Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri, the NHRC head, called the reported incident a flagrant violation of the right to practise religious rites as permitted by human rights conventions.

1:40am - Qatar will not expel nationals from countries that cut ties
Nationals of countries that cut diplomatic ties with Qatar this week are free to remain in the Gulf state in line with existing regulations, according to a statement carried by Qatar state news agency.
The statement, attributed to the Ministry of Interior, said there was no change in policy toward the nationals of "brotherly and friendly countries which cut or reduced diplomatic relations following the malicious and hostile campaigns against Qatar".

1:10am - Qatari Foreign Minister: Hamas is a legitimate resistance group
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, foreign minister of Qatar, has said Hamas is a "legitimate resistance movement" and "not a terrorist organisation as viewed by the US".
"We do not support Hamas, we support the Palestinian people," he said.

12:48am - Sunday, June 11 - Hamas: Arab differences are internal affairs
Musa Abu Marzouk, senior Hamas leader, commenting on the Gulf diplomatic crisis, has said that "Arab differences are internal affairs".
"The Hamas focus will remain directed towards Palestine and Jerusalem, and towards national unity and the cohesion of the Palestinian people," Marzouk, a member of Hamas' political bureau, told a press conference in Beirut after meeting with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain on Monday cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar accusing Doha of supporting "terrorists" - a charge Qatar denies.
"It is supposed that no one should differ over supporting the Palestinian cause," he said, adding that "our weapons will remain directed solely at the Zionist enemy [Israel] which we will continue to resist".

6.59pm - Russia calls for dialogue to solve Gulf dispute
Russia called Saturday for dialogue to resolve the dispute between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours.
"We cannot be happy in a situation when the relations between our partners are worsening," Lavrov said.
"We are in favour of resolving any disagreements through ... dialogue."
Russia is "ready to try to do everything in its power" to help resolve the crisis.

6:24pm - German FM warns Gulf crisis could lead to war
The dispute between Qatar and other Arab states could lead to war, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told a newspaper on Saturday, adding that he still saw a chance to defuse the tension.
"There is a danger that this dispute could lead to war," Gabriel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, citing what he called a "dramatic" harshness in relations between allied and neighbouring countries in the Gulf.

The minister said personal talks this week with his counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, and phone calls with the foreign ministers of Iran and Kuwait underscored his concerns.
"After my talks this week, I know how serious the situation is, but I believe there are also good chances to make progress."

4:13pm - Turkey: Qatar military base for the security of entire Gulf region
Turkey's military base in Qatar is aimed at contributing to the security of the entire Gulf region and not aimed at a specific Gulf state, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday.

In a joint news conference with Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Al Khalifa, Cavusoglu said Turkey would continue its efforts to resolve the Gulf dispute.
Cavusoglu also said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the Bahraini foreign minister that the dispute between Qatar and other Arab states should be resolved by the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

3:30pm - Qatar Petroleum says business as usual despite diplomatic rift
Qatar Petroleum (QP) said on Saturday that it was conducting "business as usual" throughout its upstream, midstream and downstream operations, despite rising diplomatic tensions with its Gulf neighbours.
QP was prepared to take any "necessary decisions and measures, should the need arise, to ensure that it honored commitments to customers and partners", the statement said.
Qatar is the world's biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer and accounts for more than 30 percent of global trade.

3:22pm - Egypt's Sisi praises Trump's stance on Qatar
Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has praised US President Donald Trump for his role in "the formation of a united front to combat terrorism".
Sisi’s praise-filled phone call Saturday came after Trump echoed accusations made against Qatar by a Saudi-led group that cut diplomatic ties with Qatar earlier this week.
Sisi thanked Trump for his participation in a counterterrorism summit in Riyadh last May, in which he vowed to “fight terrorism in partnership with Middle East leaders”.

2:17pm - Niger recalls ambassador to Doha
Niger announced it had recalled its ambassador to Qatar following the latest developments in the Gulf.
The foreign ministry issued a statement expressing "its solidarity" with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their allies, which on Monday severed diplomatic with Doha, accusing it of supporting "extremists" - a charge strongly denied by Qatar.

1:05pm - Qatari FM in Moscow for talks with Russian counterpart
After holding talks in Germany on Friday, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar's foreign minister, met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow.
The two diplomats are not expected to hold a press conference after the talks, but spoke briefly in front of cameras at the start of their meeting.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said only dialogue will resolve the dispute, adding that "the Gulf Cooperation Council is the right platform to achieve this".
For his part, Lavrov also called for talks to end the crisis. "We call for all contradictions to be resolved at the negotiation table through a mutually respectful dialogue," the Russian foreign minister said, adding that Arab states should unite to effectively fight "terrorism".

"As a matter of policy we do not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries or their bilateral relations with each other. But it does not give us joy when relations between our partners deteriorate," Lavrov said.
"The position of Russia and the moment seems to be 'yes, we'll listen to you but we don't want to take sides,'" Al Jazeera's Rory Challands, reporting from Moscow.

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