The following are updates since our June 8 DSB to the ongoing rift with Qatar:
- Sanctions: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, and Egypt released a joint statementsanctioning 59 individuals and 12 entities for links to terrorism, all purportedly based in or supported by Qatar. Of the 59 individuals, 26 are Egyptian nationals, 18 are Qatari, five are Libyan, two are Jordanian, two are Kuwaiti, two are Bahraini, one is Emirati, one is Saudi, one is Yemeni, and the last is listed as both Saudi and Kuwaiti. Of the 12 entities, six are Bahraini (all of which are Shiite organisations or militant groups), five are Qatari, and one is Libyan.
- Bahrain: The Ministry of Interior (MoI) announced on Thursday, June 8 that expressing “sympathy or favoritism” for Qatar or criticising Bahrain’s decision to sever ties on social media is a crime and punishable with up to five years in prison and a fine. The UAE implemented a similar measure on June 7.
- Egypt: Egypt urged the UN Security Council to open an investigation into accusations surrounding Qatar’s alleged ransom payments of up to 1 billion USD to blacklisted militant groups in Iraq in order to secure the release of abducted Qatari nationals. It should be noted a recent Financial Times report indicates that the alleged ransom payment played a critical role in precipitating the current dispute (see June 7 DSB).
- Hamas: The Jordanian Al-Ghad newspaper quoted “Palestinian sources” on Thursday, June 8 as stating that, over the past two days, at least five Qatar-based Hamas leaders left the country, including Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’ former political leader. Destinations mentioned include Lebanon, Turkey, the Gaza Strip, and Malaysia. This follows reports that Qatar issued a list of individuals that would need to leave Doha. The expulsion of members of Hamas, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, is reportedly one of the demandsissued to Qatar.
- Qatar: CNN reports that US officials have observed an increase in Qatari military activity, bringing 16 Leopard tanks out of storage in Doha, as the country places its forces on high alert amid rising tensions in the region. Reports also surfaced that the Ministry of Defence has informed Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE that Qatar will fire on any naval ships from those countries, which enters its waters.
- UAE: The Emirates Post Group (EPG) suspended all postal services to Qatar from Tuesday, June 6. The EPG advised customers that all undelivered items will be returned along with associated postage costs.
- Banking: In an effort to minimise financial damage, the Qatar Central Bank requested the country's commercial banks provide daily, rather than monthly updates on all foreign exchange trading. This news comes after the Qatari Riyal reached an 11-year low of 3.6530 against the US Dollar on Wednesday, June 7.
- Diplomacy: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister travelled to Oman, one of the two countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) not party to the ongoing rift, on Thursday, June 8. This comes amid ongoing efforts by Kuwait, the GCC state not involved, to mediate.
- Rhetoric: Qatar's foreign minister stated that the country is “not ready to surrender, and will never be ready to surrender, the independence of our foreign policy". He further stated that the country can withstand the blockade “forever” but also emphasised that “there cannot ever be a military solution to this problem”. The UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs also accused Qatar of escalating the current conflict by seeking aid from Turkey and Iran. The minister condemned the move stating it could result in a new “tragic and comic chapter”.
- [Cyber] Al-Jazeera’s digital platforms reportedly come under cyber attack on the night of Thursday, June 8. While at the time of writing the exact nature of the attack is unclear, Al-Jazeera described the hack as “systematic” and multifaceted. However, despite this, a source within the company assured Reuters that all of its platforms remain functional. While no group has claimed responsibility for the incident, given the timing and Al-Jazeera’s close association with the government of Qatar, it is highly likely that the hack is related to the ongoing regional dispute and, as a result, was perpetrated by a party supportive of the actions taken against Qatar.
This information is reproduced here with permission of Le Beck International