Jun 272017

WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia reiterated Tuesday that its demands on Qatar were not negotiable, as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held talks with the Qatari foreign minister on the Gulf states crisis. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, who was also in Washington, was unbudging amid attempts by US and Kuwaiti diplomats to mediate the row which has left Qatar, a US ally, isolated under a trade and diplomatic embargo set by its Gulf Arab neighbours. Turkey says Saudi-led ultimatum on Qatar ‘against international law’ “Our demands on Qatar are non-negotiable. It’s now up to Qatar to end its support for extremism and terrorism,” Jubeir said via Twitter. Riyadh has laid down a list of 13 demands for Qatar, included the closure of Al-Jazeera, a downgrade of diplomatic ties with Iran and the shutdown of a Turkish military base in the emirate. The United States though has cautioned that some of the demands would be difficult for Qatar to accept, asking the Saudis for a clear list of grievances that are “reasonable and actionable.” Shortly after Jubeir’s comments, Tillerson met with Qatar’s top diplomat Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. He was to meet later with Kuwait Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah, who has sought to work resolve the standoff. State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said talks would continue through the week, but added the Saudi demands remained ‘challenging’ for Qatar. “Some of them will be difficult for Qatar to incorporate and to try to adhere to,” she said. “We continue [Read More…]

Jun 212017
Fault lines that stoked the Gulf crisis

Is the present Gulf crisis going to blow over soon or does it reflect a deeper fault line? How significant are Pakistan’s stakes and what do we need to consider in adopting a position on this crisis? Confounded by the complexity of the nature of conflicts across the Middle East there’s a tendency for most Pakistanis to turn to conspiracy theories. Instead, the most plausible framework to interpret these events is the prism of religious ideology. And the reason for this is simple: the foremost challenge to incumbent regimes is from competing religious ideologies and not from power politics, oil politics or the Arab-Israeli dispute. The actions of these regimes are driven more by fear than by opportunity. Above all is their need for survival. Viewed from that standpoint, it would appear that the sectarian schism is the primary and more visible fault line, a religious rivalry that extends deep into the vault of Islamic history. The clergies on both sides of the Persian Gulf wield substantial authority and both the Iranian and Saudi political regimes owe their ‘legitimacy’ and survival to their religious establishments. Yet, even as that rivalry plays out in Iraq, in Syria and Lebanon, in Yemen and other theatres, the two have not severed diplomatic links nor imposed a land, sea and air blockade on the other. That rivalry falls almost exclusively in the realm of power politics and is not a huge domestic worry for either regime. On the other hand, there is a less [Read More…]

Jun 212017

Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said Pakistan will not take any sides in the recent stand-off between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. “Pakistan doesn’t want to interfere in other countries matters and will stick to its non-partisan policy on the Middle East issue,” he briefed the Senate’s committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, according to Express News. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and the United Arab Emirates announced on June 5 they were severing diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing the Gulf state of supporting terrorism. Saudi king appoints son as crown prince in major reshuffle Commenting on former army chief Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif’s appointment in the Saudi-led military alliance, Sartaj said he had gone to head the group “in personal capacity”. However, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had earlier confirmed that Gen Raheel was given the NOC by the government to lead the military alliance against terrorism. According to sources, the government in principle agreed to be part of the Saudi initiative if its sole purpose was to fight terrorism and extremism. The final decision, however, will be taken once the terms of reference of the alliance are finalised. The post Pakistan to stay neutral in Saudi-Qatar rift: Sartaj Aziz appeared first on The Express Tribune. Click for detailed story

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