Iran sends tons of food to Qatar
DOHA: Qatar has said citizens of states that have cut ties with the emirate will be allowed to stay in the country despite measures against its own nationals. A statement carried on state media said Doha would “not take any measures against residents of Qatar who hold the nationalities of countries that severed diplomatic ties or lowered diplomatic representations with the state of Qatar, on the back of hostile and tendentious campaigns against the country”.
It said Qatar was acting in “accordance with its firm beliefs and principles”. The decision will affect more than 11,000 people from the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain alone, according to official figures. Saudi Arabia and allies including the UAE and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of supporting extremism. As well as cutting air, sea and land links with Qatar, the countries ordered its citizens to leave within 14 days.
Amnesty International has said that the Gulf states opposed to Qatar were “toying” with people. ‘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 the human rights group has claimed. Figures from Doha’s National Human Rights Committee show that 8,254 Saudi residents live in Qatar. There are 2,349 Bahrainis and 784 Emiratis in the country.
Meanwhile, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates signaled yesterday they may allow some Qataris to stay in their countries amid a diplomatic rift with the Gulf nation. Early yesterday, the three countries all issued statements urging mixed nationality families to call their respective interior ministries, which would take into consideration the “humanitarian circumstances” of their situation.
In another development, Iran said it had sent tons of vegetables to Qatar, which has seen food imports threatened after its neighbors cut air, sea and land links with the country. Nearly a week after Saudi Arabia and several of its allies severed ties with Qatar in an unprecedented Gulf diplomatic crisis, there were no signs of the bitter dispute being resolved. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and others accused Qatar of supporting extremist groups, an assertion since backed by US President Donald Trump.
The crisis has raised deep concerns of instability in the region and on Sunday Kuwait’s foreign minister said his country would continue efforts to mediate a solution to the crisis. Qatar strongly rejects the allegations and has said it is open to talks on ending the dispute, which also saw the three Gulf states order all Qatari citizens out of their countries within 14 days. Qatar said late on Saturday it would not retaliate with such measures of its own. A statement carried on Qatari state media said Doha would “not take any measures against residents of Qatar who hold the nationalities of countries that severed diplomatic ties… on the back of hostile and tendentious campaigns against the country”.
No gas interruption
The decision will come as a relief to the more than 11,000 people from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain living in Qatar. Concerns have been raised for the impact of these measures on people who live in all the countries affected. “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,” Amnesty International has said. Saudi Arabia said Sunday it was ordering “suitable measures” to help families with mixed citizenships but provided few details. Despite the unprecedented sanctions, Qatar says that its crucial exports of liquified gas have not been interrupted.
“Qatar Petroleum… is conducting business as usual throughout all its upstream, midstream and downstream businesses and operations, and in all activities across all of QP’s world-class facilities,” a statement read. Gas has helped transform the tiny emirate into one of the richest countries in the world, fuelling its rise into a major regional player and helping fund huge infrastructure projects such as the 2022 football World Cup, which will be hosted by Qatar. On Thursday, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said his country could last “forever” despite the sanctions.
Qatar’s rivals have also accused Doha of being too close to the Sunni Arab Gulf states’ arch-rival-Iran-in claims that Doha has also denied. Iranians officials said on Sunday that tons of vegetables had been sent from Iran to Qatar since the measures were taken against it. Iran Air spokesman Shahrokh Noushabadi said five planes carrying around 90 tons of vegetables each had been sent to Qatar in recent days. “We will continue deliveries as long as there is demand,” Noushabadi added, without saying if the deliveries were commercial exports or aid.
Three ships loaded with 350 tons of fruit and vegetables were also set to leave an Iranian port for Qatar, the Tasnim news agency quoted a local official as saying. Moscow has joined other nations in calling for a dialogue, after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged Saudi Arabia and its allies to ease their “blockade” of Qatar. Washington has sent mixed signals on the crisis, despite Qatar’s position as a key ally and host to the largest US airbase in the region. While Tillerson and others have called for an easing of tensions, Trump on Friday said Qatar had “historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level”.
Kuwait, which has not joined its neighbors against Qatar, has been leading mediation efforts and yesterday Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah said that would continue. Kuwait’s foreign minister said yesterday that Qatar was ready to listen to the concerns of other countries in the Gulf, state news agency KUNA reported, and that his country would continue its efforts to patch a rift within the Gulf.
“(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 endeavors to enhance security and stability,” KUNA quoted the Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah as saying. “The state of Kuwait will not abandon its efforts and will continue its good will efforts to patch the rift and find a solution that will deal with the root cause of the causes of the dispute… in the brotherly relations,” he added. – Agencies