Sunday, March 23, 2014

GCC bickering continues ... March 23 , 2014 - Turkey, Qatar excluded from Cairo Islamic meeting on religious extremism : report , Despite reports to the contrary from the Qatar side , the Saudis are sending every signal possible to display displeasure with Qatar !

Turkey, Qatar excluded from Cairo Islamic meeting: report

Prime Minister Erdoğan had criticized Al Azhar Shaikh Ahmed el-Tayeb for backing Mursi’s removal. 
Prime Minister Erdoğan had criticized Al Azhar Shaikh Ahmed el-Tayeb for backing Mursi’s removal.
Egypt has not invited Qatar and Turkey for a major Islamic conference due in Cairo later this week, according to a report published on March 22.

“We are not having a crisis with the Qatari or Turkish people … The issue lies in the policy of the Turkish and Qatari governments,” Egyptian Minister of Waqfs (religious endowments) Mohammad Jumaa told at a press conference, has reported.

Cairo will host a conference on March 25 on religious extremism, as Egypt continues a crackdown on Islamists in what the military-backed government portrays as a “war on terrorism”. Around 80 scholars from 34 countries and foreign Islamic organisations are participating in the two-day conference.

According to the report, Jumaa said that Egypt would continue to “welcome” Qatari and Turkish students into Al Azhar, a prestigious Islamic seat of learning.

Relations between Egypt on the one hand and Qatar and Turkey on the other have deteriorated since July last year when the Egyptian military toppled Islamist president Mohammad Mursi following enormous street protests against his one-year rule. Qatar and Turkey are staunch backers of Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood group.

Earlier this year, Egypt summoned the Qatari ambassador in Cairo to protest Doha’s condemnation of a security crackdown on the Brotherhood’s followers.

Egypt announced this month that it has recalled its ambassador from Qatar and will not send him back in the near future. The announcement was made after the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain withdrew their envoys from Doha, accusing Qatar of meddling in their internal affairs.

“The Ministry of Waqfs will not resume contacts with Turkey until the Turkish government apologizes to Egypt and to his eminence Imam of Al Azhar, and changes its policy towards Cairo,” Jumaa reportedly said.

Late last year, Egypt expelled the Turkish ambassador and downgraded diplomatic ties with Ankara to the level of charge d’affaires in protest against what it described as meddlesome remarks by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Turkish premier has condemned Mursi’s overthrow as a coup and called for his reinstatement.

Qatar says no differences with Saudi Arabia over Syria

‘We have the highest level of coordination,’ Qatari foreign minister says
  • Reuters
  • Published: 14:15 March 23, 2014
  • Gulf News
Doha: Qatar dismissed reports of rivalry with neighbouring Saudi Arabia over efforts to end Syria’s war, saying the two countries — the main Arab backers of rebel forces — had “the highest level of coordination”.
Diplomats and opposition sources have reported strains between Qatari and Saudi-backed groups within Syria’s opposition National Coalition and have said the two countries have supported different armed groups on the ground.
The official Qatar News Agency (QNA) said Foreign Minister Khaled Al Attiyah, speaking at a public forum in Brussels on Saturday, “denied the rumours” about a dispute between Riyadh and Doha over Syria.
“We have the highest level of coordination with the Friends of Syria and in particular with Saudi Arabia,” QNA cited Attiyah as saying.

Diplomats and opposition sources say that while Qatar supports the moderate armed groups also backed by Saudi Arabia and the West, it also has backed more hardline groups that seek to set up a strict Islamic state.
The reported differences have undermined rebel efforts to battle the forces of President Bashar Al Assad, opposition sources say.
Admirers of Qatari policy in Syria say Saudi Arabia tends to support the same armed groups as Qatar does. The tiny but wealthy gas exporting country is under fierce pressure from Saudi Arabia, the dominant Gulf Arab power, to curb its support for Islamists of all stripes.
In an unprecedented move within the Gulf Cooperation Council, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar on March 5, accusing Doha of failing to abide by an accord not to interfere in each others’ internal affairs.
Qatar strongly denies interfering in Gulf Arab affairs and says its differences with its neighbours are instead to do with developments in the wider region — a reference to Egypt, where Saudi Arabia is helping the military-backed government and Qatar has voiced support for Islamist opposition forces.
Attiyah had dismissed demands by the three fellow Gulf states for changes to its foreign policy, calling its independence “non-negotiable”.

Arab summit not to address GCC crisis: Arab League

Establishment of Arab court for human rights, threats to Arab security high on agenda
  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 12:24 March 20, 2014
  • Gulf News

Manama: The political crisis in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will not be taken up by the Arab summit to be hosted by Kuwait next week, a senior Arab League official has said.
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates earlier this month pulled out their ambassadors to fellow GCC member Qatar after they complained that Doha was failing to comply with inter-Gulf agreements and accords.
Although Qatar did not reciprocate and kept its ambassadors in the three GCC capitals, tension has been ominously thickening amid media reports that the situation could escalate, unless the Arab League summit in Kuwait on Tuesday and Wednesday resolved it.
However, Arab League Deputy Secretary General Ahmad Bin Hilli on Wednesday evening denied the reports claiming the standoff would be on the agenda of the Arab summit.

“Some media outlets have reported that the Gulf dispute will be discussed (during the Arab summit) and this is not true,” Bin Hilli said in a statement carried by Kuwait News Agency (Kuna).
“The GCC is capable of addressing any dispute or misunderstanding among its members within the framework of its own procedures and the wisdom of its leaders,” he said.
The GCC, established in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi in May 1981, brings together Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The pan-Gulf alliance is the only regional Arab grouping in existence, having weathered the formidable onslaught of time and challenges.
Bin Hilli added that the GCC “has become a robust Arab institute and it is an important added value not only for its members, but also for the Arab League.” He hoped the dispute in the Gulf would be solved soon.
Arab League Secretary General Nabeel Al Araby on Monday said that the Gulf dispute would not be included in the Arab summit’s talks and that it was an internal Gulf affair.
Saud Al Faysal, the Saudi foreign minister, this week said that the crisis with Qatar would not be resolved until Doha readjusted its policy.
According to reports in Kuwait City, the Arab summit is most likely to focus on ways to enhance the Arab League, the establishment of an Arab court for human rights, the activation of the council for peace and security to address conflicts that could threaten Arab security, the setting up of a crisis management centre in cooperation with the European Union, the identification of goals to boost trade, ways to eliminate illiteracy and unemployment and improving the Arab League charter.
The foreign ministers are scheduled to hold a meeting on Monday to finalise the agenda.
On Saturday, the finance and economy ministers will meet in Kuwait City to review the major recommendations by their senior officials for the summit.
Yemen’s permanent representative to the Arab League Mohammad Al Haisami said that the summit will address the political situation in the region, especially Yemen’s post National Dialogue stage. It will also deal with the Palestinian cause and the Israeli attacks on Al Aqsa Mosque, as well as the latest developments in the Syrian crisis, Al Haisami said.
He added that the summit will review Arab cooperation in the fields of counterterrorism, security and economic relations.
Al Haisami added that the recommendations of the Arab Foreign Ministers meeting held last week in Cairo underlined the importance of implementing the outcomes of the National Dialogue, to be drafted in a new constitution.

The Arab League’s decisions at all levels emphasise the commitment of its members to preserve Yemen’s unity, respect its sovereignty and independence and reject any external interference in Yemen’s internal affairs, he said.

Riyadh: no international mediation with Qatar

‘Dispute will not be resolved until Doha revises its policies’
  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 13:44 March 18, 2014
  • Gulf News

Saudi Prince Saud Al Faisal
  • Image Credit: AFP
  • Saudi Prince Saud Al Faisal.
Manama: Saudi Arabia has ruled out the possibility of international mediation in its dispute with Qatar, and said that the conflict will not be resolved “until Qatar revises its policies”.
In the first official statement from the three countries that recalled their ambassadors from Doha protesting against what they say is Qatar’s interference in their affairs, Saudi Prince Saud Al Faisal told London-based Saudi daily Al Hayat that the trio will not budge from their positions on Qatar.
A political crisis between Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE and fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member Qatar is looming large this week.

Manama, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi on March 5, in an unprecedented move since the establishment of the GCC in 1981, pulled out their ambassadors from Doha to protests against Qatar’s non-compliance with agreements approved by the GCC states.

Even though Doha did not reciprocate and did not withdraw its ambassadors, the situation remained tense amid speculations that it could even escalate.
Al Faisal added that plans for a Gulf union it has proposed remain on the table and have not been affected by the Gulf crisis.
The paper also reported that a number of Saudi officials have in the past two weeks skipped bilateral meetings with their Qatari counterparts that were scheduled to be held in Doha.
The three GCC states are angry at Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement.
They particularly resent the way Doha has sheltered prominent Brotherhood preacher Yousuf Al Qaradawi, a critic of Saudi and UAE authorities, and given him regular air time on its pan-Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera, and on Qatari state television.
“If Qatar, which caused the crisis readjusts its policy, there will be a breakthrough,” Prince Saud said in statements carried by Saudi-owned London-based Al Hayat and Asharq Al Awsat on Tuesday.
US President Barack Obama is said to be in Saudi Arabia at the end of this month.
Al Faisal made his statements amid reports that Saudi officials did not show up for bilateral meetings with their counterparts in the Qatari capital over the last two weeks.
If true, the Saudi decision to limit contacts with the Qataris would mark a new low in the relations between the two neighbouring countries as tension in the GCC thickens.
In Kuwait, sources told local Arabic daily Al Watan that a GCC meeting for coast guard officials scheduled to be held in Doha had been moved to Kuwait.
However, a foreign ministry official denied reports that the GCC countries had agreed to shift all the GCC institutions from Doha to Riyadh.
“The claims are mere speculations. The GCC foreign ministers have not met since they decided to recall the ambassadors, so how could they make a decision on the matter?” the sources that the daily did not name said.
Several Kuwaitis have insisted that Kuwait, the host of the Arab summit on March 25, could play a positive role in narrowing the gap between Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE on one side and Qatar on the other.

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