Qatar admits having different ‘assessment’ to US on Iran threat

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said Qatar respected US policy on Iran, but added: “We have our own assessment.” (AFP/File photo)
Updated 10 June 2019

Qatar admits having different ‘assessment’ to US on Iran threat

  • Comments expected to alarm members of the Trump administration, which has beefed up America’s military presence against Tehran
  • Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani

LONDON: Qatar has its "own assessment” different to the US on policy towards Iran, the country’s foreign minister said Sunday.

The comments are expected to alarm members of the Trump administration, which has beefed up America’s military presence in the region after an increased Iranian threat. 

Qatar hosts the biggest US military base in the Middle East but has become increasingly close to Iran despite Washington viewing Tehran as the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.

Since withdrawing from the 2015 agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program, President Donald Trump has ramped up sanctions and vowed to curb Tehran’s destabilizing activities in the region.

Speaking in London, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said Qatar respected US policy on Iran, but added: “We have our own assessment.”

“There is a big pressure on Iran’s economy, but Iran lived under sanctions for 40 years. It’s never been like this but they survived. We don’t see the repetition of the same way will create a different result,” he said. “They don’t want to have a continuation of the sanctions at the same level and enter negotiations. They believe there was an agreement and US was part of the agreement.” 

Sheikh Mohammed said Qatar and other countries have been talking to both Iran and the United States about de-escalation, urging both sides to meet and find a compromise.

“We believe that at one point there should an engagement – it cannot last forever like this,” he said. “Since they are not willing to engage in further escalation, they should come up with ideas that open the doors.”

Qatar’s close ties with Iran, along with its support of extremist groups, was one of the reasons Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Gulf and Arab countries cut ties with Doha two years ago.

The comments from Qatar on a differing approach to Iran come after the US last month deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 long-range bombers to the region to tackle escalatory action by Iran.

The US has also said Iran was almost certainly behind an attack on four oil tankers, including two Saudi ships, off the coast of the UAE. 

Sheikh Mohammed also spoke about the Trump administration's impending Middle East peace deal, saying there was a disconnect between the Palestinians and the US over the blueprint.

"It cannot be a solution like, sort of, imposed on the Palestinians – no country in the Arab world can accept that," Sheikh Mohammed said, of the deal to end decades of confict with Israel.

*With Reuters


Gunmen kill two women and 3 kids near Tripoli

Updated 3 min 52 sec ago

Gunmen kill two women and 3 kids near Tripoli

  • This is one of the systematic crimes carried out by militias against civilians

CAIRO: Gunmen killed two women and three children of the same family while they were driving on a highway near the capital, Tripoli, less than a week after an airstrike slammed into a house killing at least three civilians, a health official said Thursday.

The city has been the scene of fighting between rival militias since April. A UN-supported but weak government holds the capital, but the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) — which is associated with a rival government in the country’s east — is trying to seize it.

Abdel Rahman Al-Tamimi, his wife, sister and three children were traveling on Wednesday evening to the capital from their hometown of Aziziya, south of the city, when unknown militants opened fire on their car, Malek Merset, a health spokesman with the Tripoli government told The Associated Press. The family was headed to the capital, where the children, ages 3 to 6, were expected to receive vaccination shots, Merset said.

FASTFACT

Abdel Rahman Al-Tamimi, his wife, sister and three children were traveling on Wednesday evening to the capital from their hometown of Aziziya, south of the city, when unknown militants opened fire on their car.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. However, LNA spokesman Ahmed Al-Mesmari blamed the attack on militias allied with the Tripoli-based internationally recognized government. “This is one of the systematic crimes carried out by militias against civilians,” he wrote on his official Facebook page. “In order to eradicate them and avenge the murdered, the battle shall continue.”

Earlier this week, the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) held the LNA responsible for the shelling of a civilian residence that killed at least three civilians and the wounding of two, including children. The LNA denied the accusation saying that it targeted a military camp that the Tripoli militias used as an “operations room.”

The battle for Tripoli has stalled in recent weeks, with both sides dug in and shelling one another along the city’s southern reaches. The months of combat have killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands.

The fighting threatens to plunge Libya into another bout of violence on the scale of the 2011 conflict that ousted and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

Separately, Libya’s coast guard said that it has rescued 82 Europe-bound migrants, including 11 women and eight children off the country’s Mediterranean coast.

The rubber boat carrying migrants from Syria, Bangladesh, Sudan and many other African countries was stopped on Wednesday 64 km to the north of the western town of Zawiya, according to a statement released on Thursday by Libya’s navy.

Libya has emerged as a major transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty to Europe. In recent years, the EU has partnered with the coast guard and other Libyan forces to try to stop the dangerous sea crossings.

Rights groups, however, have criticized those efforts, saying they’ve left migrants at the mercy of armed groups or confined in squalid detention centers rife with abuses.