qatari

UAE welcomes Qatari decision to amend anti-terrorism laws

DUBAI (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates on Friday welcomed Qatar’s decision to amend its anti-terrorism laws, in one of the first positive signs from the UAE and three other Arab countries since they imposed sanctions on Doha last month.

In a move to counter their accusations of supporting terrorism, which it denies, Qatar has set rules for defining terrorism, freezing funding and terrorism financing and established national terrorism lists.

“The Qatari decree to amend the anti-terrorism law is a positive step to deal seriously with the 59 terrorists,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain designated dozens of people with alleged links to Qatar as terrorists, including Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi, and 12 entities, among them Qatari-funded charities.

“The pressure of the crisis has started to bear fruits, and the wiser course would be changing the whole orientation,” Gargash added.

Gargash also said the countries’ concerns about Qatar’s relationship with Iran had eased since Kuwait ordered the expulsion of the Iranian ambassador and 14 other diplomats for alleged links to a “spy and terror” cell on Thursday.

The four countries led a diplomatic and economic campaign to pressure and isolate the small Gulf state, which is a critical global supplier of gas and hosts the biggest U.S. military base in the Middle East.

Last week, Qatar signed an accord with the United States on working together to fight terrorism financing. Details have not been released but sources said it provides for the United States to post officials at Qatar’s state prosecutor’s office.

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UAE said to be behind hacking of Qatari media, sparking regional upheaval

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of a Qatari government news site in May, planting a false story that was used as a pretext for the current crisis between Qatar and several Arab countries, according to a Sunday report by The Washington Post.

The Emirati Embassy in Washington released a statement in response calling the Post report “false” and insisting that the UAE “had no role whatsoever” in the alleged hacking.

The report quotes unnamed US intelligence officials as saying that senior members of the Emirati government discussed the plan on May 23. On the following day, a story appeared on the Qatari News Agency’s website quoting a speech by Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in which he allegedly praised Iran and said Qatar has a good relationship with Israel. Similarly incendiary statements appeared on the news agency’s Twitter feed.

The agency quickly claimed it was hacked and removed the article. But Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt all blocked Qatari media and later severed diplomatic ties.

The ongoing crisis has threatened to complicate the US-led coalition’s fight against the Islamic State group as all participants are US allies and members of the anti-IS coalition. Qatar is home to more than 10,000 US troops and the regional headquarters of the US Central Command while Bahrain is the home of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.

President Donald Trump has sided strongly with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the dispute, publicly backing their contention that Doha is a supporter of Islamic militant groups and a destabilizing force in the Middle East. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently concluded several days of shuttle diplomacy in the Gulf, but he departed the region without any public signs of a resolution.

JEWISH GROUP URGES UNESCO TO REJECT ANTISEMITIC QATARI CANDIDATE

 

UNESCO should reject the candidacy of former Qatari minister of culture Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari for its director- general, Simon Wiesenthal Center’s European Office has said.

Al-Kawari is one of nine candidates under consideration to replace Irina Bokova, who has headed the organization since 2009.

 

On Friday, Shimon Samuels, international relations director at the Wiesenthal Center, wrote to UNESCO’s Executive Board chairman Michael Worbs, saying that when Al-Kawari was culture minister, Qatar sold texts at the Frankfurt Book fair that “fomented” conspiracy theories against Jews.

“Mr. Chairperson, he who apparently endorses the language of [the Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph] Goebbels must not head the intellectual arm of the United Nations. We expect you to advise the Executive Board accordingly,” said Samuels.

He added that Qatar supported UN resolutions on Jerusalem that ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

UNESCO’s executive board is expected to interview all the candidates in Paris on April 27 and 28. A secret ballot will be held at its October meeting. Another secret ballot to affirm the nomination will be held at the body’s general conference in November.

Three of the nine under consideration are women: Moushira Khattab of Egypt; Vera El Khoury Lacoeuilh of Lebanon; and Audrey Azoulay of France.

The other five are: Polad Bulbuloglu of Azerbaijan; Pham Suan Shon of Vietnam; Qian Tang of China; Juan Alfonso Fuentes Soria of Guatemala; and Saleh Al-Hasnawi of Iraq.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was established in large part to focus on preserving cultural heritage sites around the world.

But the Palestinian Authority and the Arab states have pushed anti-Israel resolutions at its board and committee meetings, turning them into diplomatic battle grounds for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2011, UNESCO was the first UN body to recognize Palestine as a state.

Clinton’s charity confirmed Qatari gift while she was Secretary of State

NEW YORK – The Clinton Foundation has confirmed it accepted a $1 million gift from Qatar while Hillary Clinton was US secretary of state without informing the State Department, even though she had promised to let the agency review new or significantly increased support from foreign governments.

Qatari officials pledged the money in 2011 to mark the 65th birthday of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton’s husband, and sought to meet the former US president in person the following year to present him the check, according to an email from a foundation official to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman, John Podesta. The email, among thousands hacked from Podesta’s account, was published last month by WikiLeaks.

Clinton signed an ethics agreement governing her family’s globe-straddling foundation in order to become secretary of state in 2009. The agreement was designed to increase transparency to avoid appearances that U.S foreign policy could be swayed by wealthy donors.

If a new foreign government wished to donate or if an existing foreign-government donor, such as Qatar, wanted to “increase materially” its support of ongoing programs, Clinton promised that the State Department’s ethics official would be notified and given a chance to raise any concerns.

Clinton Foundation officials last month declined to confirm the Qatar donation. In response to additional questions, a foundation spokesman, Brian Cookstra, this week said that it accepted the $1 million gift from Qatar, but this did not amount to a “material increase” in the Gulf country’s support for the charity. Cookstra declined to say whether Qatari officials received their requested meeting with Bill Clinton.

Officials at Qatar’s embassy in Washington and in its Council of Ministers in the capital, Doha, declined to discuss the donation.

The State Department has said it has no record of the foundation submitting the Qatar gift for review, and that it was incumbent on the foundation to notify the department about donations that needed attention. A department spokeswoman did not respond to additional questions about the donation.

According to the foundation’s website, which lists donors in broad categories by cumulative amounts donated, Qatar’s government has directly given a total of between $1 million and $5 million over the years.

The Clinton Foundation has said it would no longer accept money from foreign governments if Clinton is elected president and would spin off those programs that are dependent on foreign governments.

“MATERIAL” INCREASE

Foundation officials told Reuters last year that they did not always comply with central provisions of the agreement with President Barack Obama’s administration, blaming oversights in some cases.(http://reut.rs/2fkHPCh)

At least eight other countries besides Qatar gave new or increased funding to the foundation, in most cases to fund its health project, without the State Department being informed, according to foundation and agency records. They include Algeria, which gave for the first time in 2010, and the United Kingdom, which nearly tripled its support for the foundation’s health project to $11.2 million between 2009 and 2012.

Foundation officials have said some of those donations, including Algeria, were oversights and should have been flagged, while others, such as the UK increase, did not qualify as material increases.

The foundation has declined to describe what sort of increase in funding by a foreign government would have triggered notification of the State Department for review. Cookstra said the agreement was designed to “allow foreign funding for critical Clinton Foundation programs” to continue without disruption.

The State Department said it has no record of being asked by the foundation to review any increases in support by a foreign government.

Asked whether Qatar was funding a specific program at the foundation, Cookstra said the country supported the organization’s “overall humanitarian work.” “Qatar continued supporting Clinton Foundation at equal or lower levels” compared with the country’s pre-2009 support, he said. He declined to say if Qatar gave any money during the first three years of Clinton’s four-year term at the State Department, or what its support before 2009 amounted to.

In another email released by WikiLeaks, a former Clinton Foundation fundraiser said he raised more than $21 million in connection with Bill Clinton’s 65th birthday in 2011.

Spokesmen for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and Bill Clinton did not respond to emailed questions about the donation.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said that major donors to the Clinton Foundation may have obtained favored access to Clinton’s State Department, but has provided little evidence to that effect. Clinton and her staff have dismissed this accusation as a political smear.

Last month, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ordered the Donald J. Trump Foundation to stop fundraising in the state, saying it had not registered to solicit donations.