Browsing 'Gulf dispute' News

With reporting from Reem Saad

Thousands of people flocked to the Corniche last night to express support for Qatar’s Emir, who has just returned home from a trip abroad.

The crowd consisted of expats and Qataris alike, who hailed Sheikh Tamim for representing Qatar proudly during the ongoing Gulf dispute.

The Emir was first warmly received at the airport by family members and other VIPs.

Later in the evening, his convoy cruised down the Corniche, where people waited up to three hours to greet him.

Sheikh Tamim very briefly got out of his vehicle to meet with attendees, kissing children and shaking hands.

Speaking to Doha News, one Qatari woman who declined to be named said:

“I feel so proud to be here today. Us coming together like this only goes to show that we as Qataris and the residents of Qatar would never turn our backs on Sheikh Tamim.”

 

Online reaction

The event appeared to be a very emotional one for some residents. Many strongly felt the need to show up and express their patriotism as Qatar’s isolation from its neighbors grows.

Others wanted to give thanks to the Emir for his defiant speech last week at the United Nations, which expressed gratitude to Qatar’s expats and local population for their solidarity.

Here’s some of the online reaction to yesterday’s event:

Thoughts?

QNA

Sheikh Tamim meets US President Donald Trump

The Gulf crisis should be resolved “pretty quickly,” US President Donald Trump said following a meeting with Qatar’s Emir yesterday.

In a press briefing after their talk, Trump emphasized the two nations’ historically strong relationship.

Referring to the months-long dispute between Qatar and its neighbors, he added:

“We are right now in a situation where we’re trying to solve a problem in the Middle East. And I think we’ll get it solved, I have a very strong feeling that it will be solved pretty quickly.”

Shortly after the dispute erupted in June, Trump expressed support for isolating Qatar to fight terrorism.

However, cognizant of the fact that Qatar hosts the US’s largest air base in the region, the Pentagon urged a swift resolution to the Gulf dispute.

Trump now appears to agree with this notion.

UN General Assembly

The two leaders met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, where both delivered speeches.

During his address, the Emir said that his people felt betrayed by the hacking of QNA, as well as the ensuing blockade.

Video still

Sheikh Tamim at UN General Assembly

He strongly criticized his neighbors for their political actions, but also said Qatar is ready to talk about solving the crisis.

Sheikh Tamim reiterated this desire in the press briefing with Trump, saying:

“We have a problem with our neighbors and your interference will help a lot. And I’m sure that with your interference hopefully we can find a solution to this problem.”

“We will always be open to dialogue,” he added.

Thoughts?

A screenshot from the Lift the Blockade website

Qatar’s government has launched a new website called “Lift the Blockade” to counter “fake news” amid the ongoing Gulf crisis.

Illustrated with images of the country and its people – both expats and Qataris – the site lays out Qatar’s perspective on the dispute.

It also details the impact the blockade has had on citizens, and includes recent international news articles that show Qatar in a positive light.

claireschmidtmeyer/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In a statement to Doha News, the Government Communications Office (GCO) explained that the purpose of the site is education.

“We thought it was important that all stakeholders knew the facts about our efforts to defeat terrorism, the origin of the blockade, and the human impact of the blockade,” Media Attaché Jassim Al Thani said.

He added that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have “attacked Qatar in the news with lies.”

An ‘illegal blockade’

According to the website, the current dispute is not about terrorism financing, as the boycotting nations claim.

Rather, it is about “Qatar’s foreign policy, our sovereignty, and our independence,” the site said.

Lift the Blockade

Timeline of dispute

“Qatar’s principles of openness and tolerance have put our policies and positions in conflict with those of our neighbors.”

The GCO also called for the blockade to end so that dialogue could take place.

Brave face

In addition to stating its position on the crisis, the website strives to paint Qatar in the best light possible.

To reflect its resilience during the dispute, it quotes the Emir as saying, “We are proud of our history, but what happened in June 2017 has strengthened us and pushed us to work more for the country.”

Osama Saeed/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In response to a demand from the boycotting nations for Qatar to shut Al Jazeera, the government also highlights its commitment to free speech.

“Qatar believes that independent journalism contributes to public awareness and increased citizen engagement.

Qatar further believes that independent journalism helps keep authorities accountable and promotes good governance. Our country is proud of the Al Jazeera network, and of Qatar’s role in pioneering independent journalism in the Middle East.”

However, the site does not mention Qatar’s low international press freedom rankings, which are in large part due to its censorship of sensitive issues in domestic media.

Qatar Insider

Lift the Blockade was created a few months after the launch of The Qatar Insider, a website funded by the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), a Saudi lobby group.

SAPRAC

A screenshot from The Qatar Insider website

The site and its linked social media pages list damning but mostly unsubstantiated claims about Qatar.

These include allegations that the nation supported eight terrorist groups in Syria, has fomented unrest in Libya and Egypt and lied about being hacked in May.

Thoughts?