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Qatar hits out at 'baseless' Saudi terrorism blacklist

The emirate was responding after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain published a list of 59 people and entities linked to “terrorism”.

The Qatari flag waves in front of the capital, Doha.
The Qatari flag waves in front of the capital, Doha.
Image: DPA/PA Images

QATAR HAS DISMISSED as “baseless” a terrorism blacklist published by Saudi Arabia and its allies which linked individuals and organisations in Doha to support for Islamist militant groups.

The emirate was responding just hours after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain published a list of 59 people and entities linked to “terrorism”.

“The recent joint statement issued by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE regarding a ‘terror finance watch list’ once again reinforces baseless allegations that hold no foundation in fact,” Qatar’s government said in a statement.

Qatar does not support terrorist groups, it stressed, pointing out that “our position on countering terrorism is stronger than many of the signatories of the joint statement – a fact that has been conveniently ignored by the authors”.

Included on the list were Doha-based Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Qatari-funded charities.

The list and response add to the diplomatic and political tensions in the Gulf that have erupted since Saudi Arabia and its allies severed ties with Qatar over its alleged support for extremism.

Qatar has vehemently denied the claims and on Thursday its foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, said his country would not “surrender”.

‘Hour of diplomacy’

Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani Qatari foreign minister Sheik Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani. Source: Darko Vojinovic

In a bid to drum up support for his country with the crisis showing no signs of abating, the minister made a surprise visit Friday to Germany where he pledged to pursue a diplomatic path out of the deadlock.

The actions taken by Saudi Arabia and its allies amounted to “a clear breach of the international law and won’t result in a positive impact on the region but will have a negative one”, he said, also hitting out at the terrorism blacklist.

“There is a continuous escalation from these countries … but our strategic options are still diplomacy and dialogue,” added Sheikh Mohammed, after holding talks with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

“There are ongoing efforts from friendly countries to contain the crisis and lift the unjust blockade on Qatar and start negotiations,” added the Qatari minister, who is travelling to Moscow on Saturday to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Kuwait has taken on the mediator role in the crisis, and French President Emmanuel Macron has also reached out to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran in a bid to kick off talks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also spoken to Qatar’s emir over the crisis.

Gabriel stressed that “this is the hour of diplomacy” as he vowed to “do everything, along with our European friends, to ensure that this conflict does not further escalate”.

Crisis

The spat is unlikely to do anything to relieve tensions in the region in a spiralling political crisis, which also threatens to involve the US, Russia, Europe and other major players such as Turkey and Iran.

Turkey’s parliament has approved deploying troops to a base in Qatar and Iran has offered to send food to Doha.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain led a string of countries that cut ties with Qatar over what they say is the emirate’s financing of extremist groups and its ties to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional arch-rival.

They also banned Qatar Airways from using its airspaces and closed the country’s only land border, which it shares with Saudi Arabia, moves which Doha’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, has termed a “blockade”.

Sheikh Mohammed today held surprise talks in Germany with his counterpart Sigmar Gabriel.

In a press conference held in the small town of Wolfenbuettel, he claimed the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and its allies amounted to “a clear breach of international law”.

Hitting out at the blacklist, he added: “There is a continuous escalation from these countries … but our strategic options are still diplomacy and dialogue.”

So far, European countries have largely stayed on the sidelines in the dispute involving several of their allies.

© – AFP, 2017

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