Qatar says Saudi-led move to bar citizens breach of rights

Pauline Gross
June 7, 2017

Saif Al-Shamsi warned the social media users that any pro-Qatar online activity and participation is punishable and could land people from three to 15 years in prison or at least 500,000 dirhams (136,000 U.S. dollars) in fines. It said there is "no legitimate justification" and that it is in "violation of its sovereignty", vowing to its citizens and hundreds of thousands of residents that the measures would not affect them.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had been Qatar Airways' largest markets by the number of available seats and the loss of the four Arab markets could lead to a double-digit revenue decline for the carrier, CAPA said.

US President Donald Trump has claimed credit for the pressure being placed on Qatar by Gulf neighbours who accuse it of supporting terrorism in the region.

"(Qatar) embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS (Islamic State) and al-Qaeda", Saudi state news agency SPA said.

A Qatari official has said an ultimatum issued by Saudi Arabia and its allies for the emirate's citizens to leave is a violation of human rights that requires United Nations intervention.

The alleged comments by Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in which he criticized the harsh rhetoric aimed at Iran by the Gulf states and the United States and asserted his support for Palestinian militant group Hamas and his ties with Israel, simmered tensions between the Gulf states.

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Following the closure of borders with Qatar, Qatari citizens were stocking up on food and supplies in fear of shortage. The transit restrictions follow from the cutting of all transport links with Qatar as part of the coordinated action.

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Offenders will face a jail term of three to 15 years and a fine not less than 500,000 dirhams ($136,000). The Qatari riyal fell to an 11-year low against the US dollar in the spot market.

The Gulf Cooperation Council is a regional bloc comprising Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE and Oman. In recent months, suspected Russian cyberactivities, including the use of fake news stories, have turned up amid elections in France, Germany and other countries. "This by itself is a violation of its [Qatar's] sovereignty as a state", Qatar's foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Mauritania's positions have always reflected our firm belief in the need to strengthen cooperation and solidarity among brothers and to confront any threat to security and stability in our Arab homeland", the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Doha-based state funded Al Jazeera media network reported on Qatar's reaction to the Saudi kingdom's decision.

"I think our relationship with Qatar is one that's strong".

The UAE and other nations cutting ties with Qatar are doing so because years of trying to work through grievances against the small nation on the Arabian Peninsula have "all hit basically a brick wall", the UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs told CNN on Tuesday. They said they would take a hard line on funding, extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar.

"Qataris who study in Saudi, the UAE and Bahrain, we've had information that they were requested to leave immediately and they were not allowed to continue their final semester exams", he added.

Other reports by GizPress

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