Saudi Arabia and Israel Agree on Al Jazeera

Peace and Freedom

There are still honourable Israelis who demand a state for the Palestinians; there are well-educated Saudis who object to the crazed Wahabism upon which their kingdom is founded; there are millions of Americans, from sea to shining sea, who do not believe that Iran is their enemy nor Saudi Arabia their friend. But the problem today in both East and West is that our governments are not our friends

By Robert Fisk

The Independent 

may-saudi.jpgTheresa May has already suppressed a report so it wouldn’t upset the Saudis. And we wonder why we go to war with the Middle East AFP

When Qatar’s Al Jazeera satellite channel has both the Saudis and the Israelis demanding its closure, it must be doing something right. To bring Saudi head-choppers and Israeli occupiers into alliance is, after all, something of an achievement.

But don’t get too romantic about this. When the wealthiest Saudis fall…

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Qatar Opens Its Doors to All, to the Dismay of Some—(Qatar Is It A Time Bomb Waiting To Explode?)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Migrants in a park at Doha Point in Doha, Qatar. Credit Tomas Munita for The New York Times

DOHA, Qatar — Take a drive in Doha, leaving behind the mirrored skyscrapers and palm-fringed avenues of this gas-rich city, and the protagonists of myriad conflicts are in easy reach.

In one western district, near the campuses hosting branches of American universities, Taliban officials and their families can be found window-shopping in the cavernous malls or ordering takeout meals from a popular Afghan eatery.

A few miles away at a vast United States military base with 9,000 American personnel, warplanes take off on missions to bomb the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — and sometimes the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Officials from Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, work from a luxury villa near the British Embassy, and recently held a news conference in a ballroom at the pyramid-shape Sheraton hotel.

The Sheraton hotel in Doha. CreditKarim Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

And an elderly Egyptian cleric, a fugitive from Cairo, is a popular fixture on the city’s swank social scene, and was recently spotted at a wedding by an American diplomat who was attending the same celebration.

Continue reading the main story

This is the atmosphere of intrigue and opulence for which the capital of Qatar, a dust-blown backwater until a few decades ago, has become famous as the great freewheeling hub of the Middle East.

Against a backdrop of purring limousines and dhows moored in the bay, Doha has become home to an exotic array of fighters, financiers and ideologues, a neutral city with echoes of Vienna in the Cold War, or a Persian Gulf version of the fictional pirate bar in the “Star Wars” movies.

Yet that welcome-all attitude is precisely what has recently angered Qatar’s much larger neighbors and plunged the Middle East into one of its most dramatic diplomatic showdowns. For more than a month, four Arab countries have imposed a sweeping air, sea and land blockade against Qatarthat, in a nutshell, boils down to a demand that Doha abandon its adventurist foreign policy, and that it stop giving shelter to such a broad range of agents in its capital.

So far, the blockade is not working, and the crisis looks set to worsen. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson flew back to Washington on Thursday after days of apparently fruitless shuttle diplomacy in the region. The foreign ministers of Germany, France and Britain have also intervened, without success.

The blockading nations — Saudi ArabiaEgypt, the United Arab Emiratesand Bahrain — insist that Qatar is using an open-door policy to destabilize its neighbors. They say that Doha, rather than the benign meeting ground described by Qataris, is a city where terrorism is bankrolled, not battled against.

Qatar’s self-identity as a center of refuge dates to the 19th century, when its desolate and semilawless territory offered sanctuary to outlaws, pirates and people fleeing persecution across the Arabian Peninsula.

“It’s always been this place where waifs and strays and unwanted people ended up,” said David Robert, the author of “Qatar: Securing the Global Ambitions of a City-State” and an assistant professor at King’s College in London. “There was no overarching power on the peninsula, so if you were wanted by a sheikh, you could escape to Qatar and nobody would bother you.”

In the 19th century, Qatar’s founding leader, Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, called it the “Kaaba of the dispossessed” — a reference to the revered black cube at the Great Mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, and a figurative way of describing Qatar as a lodestar for those seeking refuge.

That national trait turned into a policy for Al Thani’s descendants, who since the mid-1990s have thrown open Qatar’s doors to dissidents and exiles of every stripe. Doha has welcomed Saddam Hussein’s family, one of Osama bin Laden’s sons, the iconoclastic Indian painter M. F. Husain and the Chechen warlord Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, who was assassinated in the city by Russian secret agents in 2004. (The agents were caught and later extradited to Russia.)

A QatarGas offshore drilling rig in the Persian Gulf. Qatar shares the world’s third-largest gas field with Iran.CreditUllstein Bild, via Getty Images

Qatar can afford to be generous. It shares the world’s third-largest gas field with Iran, yet has just 300,000 citizens, making it the richest country per capita. In recent decades, Doha has transformed into a gleaming metropolis of global ambition where luxury cars crowd the streets and world-renowned architects have traced its futuristic skyline. An army of imported laborers is building stadiums and subway lines for the 2022 World Cup.

But among fellow Arab states, Qatar’s image has been shaped by its contentious policy of come one, come all.

In Doha, wealthy Qataris and Western expatriates mingle with Syrian exiles, Sudanese commanders and Libyan Islamist’s, many of them funded by the Qatari state. The Qataris sometimes play peacemaker: Their diplomats brokered a peace deal in Lebanon in 2008 and negotiated the release of numerous hostages, including Peter Theo Curtis, an American journalist being held in Syria, in 2014.

But critics say that, often as not, rather than acting as a neutral peacemaker, Qatar takes sides in conflicts — helping oust Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya in 2011, or turning a blind eye to wealthy citizens who funnel cash to extremist Islamist groups in Syria.

And what infuriates the Saudis, Emiratis, Egyptians and Bahrainis most of all is that Doha has also provided shelter to Islamist dissidents from their own countries — and given them a voice on the Qatar-owned television station, Al Jazeera.

The Egyptian cleric seen at a wedding recently, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, is a prominent booster for the Muslim Brotherhood and once had an influential show on Al Jazeera, where he dispensed teachings on matters from suicide bombings to personal sexuality.

“We have the ‘children bomb,’ and these human bombs must continue until liberation,” he told his audience in 2002.

Even though Mr. Qaradawi is now 91 and stopped his TV show four years ago, his presence in Qatar is an irritant for Egypt, and his name is featured prominently on a list of 59 people that the blockading countries want deported from Qatar. They have also demanded the closing of Al Jazeera.

This and many of the demands from the blockading countries are seen as impossibly broad, leading to widespread pessimism that the standoff will end anytime soon.

“The Emiratis and the Saudis seem to have miscalculated their position,” said Mehran Kamrava, the author of “Qatar: Small State, Big Politics” and a professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. “They thought that if they went all-out with a blockade, the Qataris would balk. But they haven’t.”

Doha’s Taliban residents do not figure on the list of demands from the blockaders, but their presence does embody the wider debate around the merits of Qatar’s open-door approach.

Peace talks between the militants and Afghan officials, initiated by the United States in 2013, quickly collapsed. Yet a Taliban contingent stayed on, and Doha is now is home to about 100 Taliban officials and their relatives, who live comfortably at Qatari state expense, one Afghan official said.

There were further, unofficial talks in 2015 and 2016. But as the fight in Afghanistan grinds on, some experts question whether the supposed Taliban peace advocates might be quietly facilitating more war.

Michael Semple, a Taliban scholar at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, said that until the blockade, Taliban leaders in Qatar were known to frequently travel by road from Qatar, through Saudi Arabia, to the United Arab Emirates, where they have investments, and to fund-raise there among the Afghan communities in the cities of Sharjah and Dubai.

“Clearly they are using their foothold in the gulf to try and fund-raise and legitimize,” he said. “If they haven’t broached the substantive issues around peace, and the other gains are modest, then you could argue that that Qatar initiative makes things worse.”

In recent years, Doha has been home to Khaled Mishal, who stepped down this year as leader of Hamas, and the country provided the group a site for talks with the former British prime minister and Mideast peace envoy Tony Blair, in 2015.

Although former Secretary of State John F. Kerry publicly criticized the Hamas presence, American officials privately say they would prefer Hamas was based in Doha rather than in a hostile capital like Tehran.

The promenade known locally as the Doha Corniche in Doha. CreditNaseem Zeitoon/Reuters

In keeping with its open-door approach, Doha was home to an Israeli trade office from 1996 to 2008. Although relations have soured, Qatar promises that Israel will be allowed to participate in the 2022 World Cup.

In the current crisis, Qatar is leveraging the wide range of ties its foreign policy has fostered. Food supplies and a few dozen soldiers from Turkey arrived in Doha after the embargo started on June 5. Turkish news reports say the military contingent could swell to 1,000 troops, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to visit Doha in the coming days.

Late one night last weekend, revelers were spilling from a trendy hotel nightclub in Doha as two athletic Turkish men checked in. Entering the elevator with their bags, they declared themselves glad to be in Doha, and described themselves as working in the “defense sector,” then with a smile declined to say any more.

UAE: Al-Jazeera Has Gone Beyond Incitement to Hostility, Violence

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Middle East

UAE: Al-Jazeera Has Gone Beyond Incitement to Hostility, Violence

UAE

Abu Dhabi- UAE has accused al-Jazeera TV station of spreading sectarianism and promoting violence and anti-Semitism in response to UN’s refusal to call on the Arab countries that have boycotted Doha to shut the channel.

UAE Dr. Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, sent a letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, addressing his country’s concerns that the Doha-based network promotes extremist ideologies.

The letter highlighted how al-Jazeera has promoted anti-Semitic violence by broadcasting sermons by spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood Yusuf al-Qaradawi in which he praised Hitler, described the Holocaust as “divine punishment” and called on Allah to “take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people and kill them, down to the very last one.”

“While the protection of the right of freedom of expression is of fundamental importance, this protection is not absolute, and restrictions on the right are permitted under the international law to protect national security and public order,” said Gargash in his letter sent.

“Freedom of expression cannot be used to justify and shield the promotion of extremist narratives,” the letter notes.

The minister recalled UN Security Council Resolution 1624 (2005), a historic resolution that focused on messages that often precede acts of terrorism and called on states to prohibit and prevent incitement to commit terrorist acts.

The letter referred to the Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Countering Violent Extremism adopted by the special rapporteur and several regional and human rights bodies.

It recognized that states may restrict reporting that is intended to incite imminent violence, and there is a direct and immediate connection between the reporting and the likelihood or occurrence of such violence.

In this regard, the letter makes clear that al-Jazeera’s reporting has repeatedly crossed the threshold of incitement to hostility, violence and discrimination, and lists several examples of such content.

For instance, on February 18, 2008, following the re-publication of a blasphemous cartoon, al-Jazeera TV broadcast a speech by the spokesman of the Salah al-Din brigades in Gaza that called on Muslims to “burn down the offices of the newspapers that affronted our Prophet, and bomb them so that body parts go flying.”

Also included in the letter are numerous examples of the ongoing editorial support for terrorist groups and on-air promotion of sectarianism by the Qatari channel’s journalists.

The letter mentioned that, over the years, “the Qatari-owned and controlled al-Jazeera Arabic has provided a platform to Osama bin Laden (al-Qaeda), Abu Mohammed al-Jolani (al-Nusra), Khaled Mashal (Hamas), Mohammed Deif (Hamas), Anwar al-Awlaki (al-Qaeda), Hassan Nasrallah (Hezbollah), Ramadan Shallah (Palestinian Islamic Jihad), and Abdel Hakim Belhadj (Libyan ISIS Group), among others.

The letter explained that these interviews gave terrorist groups opportunities to threaten, recruit and incite, without challenge or restraint.

The minister reiterated that the UAE’s strong objections to al-Jazeera are not a matter of disagreement on its editorial standpoints but are a direct and necessary response to its persistent and dangerous incitement to hostility, violence and discrimination.

In light of the alarming examples quoted in the letter, these objections are legitimate, well founded and reasonable.

The letter concluded with an invitation to the High Commissioner to discuss additional cases of al-Jazeera’s promotion of extremist ideologies and ways to protect the right of freedom of expression in the face of such egregious abuses.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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Exclusive: The secret documents that help explain the Qatar crisis

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Exclusive: The secret documents that help explain the Qatar crisis

Story highlights

  • The Gulf countries have accused Qatar of not complying with the two agreements
  • A Qatari spokesman said in a statement that it was Saudi Arabia and the UAE who “have broken the spirit of the agreement”

(CNN) Qatar made a series of secret agreements with its Gulf neighbors in 2013 and 2014 barring support for opposition and hostile groups in those nations, as well as in Egypt and Yemen.

The existence of the agreements has been known, but both the content and the documents themselves were kept secret due to the sensitivity of the issues involved and the fact that they were agreed in private by heads of state. The agreements were exclusively obtained by CNN from a source from the region with access to the documents.
The Gulf countries have accused Qatar of not complying with the two agreements, which helps explain what sparked the worst diplomatic crisis in the Middle East in decades.
Abiding by the agreements was among six principles the Gulf nations set as requirements to mend relations with Qatar in a statement released last week.
In a statement to CNN, Qatar accused Saudi Arabia and UAE of breaking the spirit of the agreement and indulging in an “unprovoked attack on Qatar’s sovereignty.”
The first agreement — handwritten and dated November 23, 2013 — is signed by the King of Saudi Arabia, the Emir of Qatar and the Emir of Kuwait. It lays out commitments to avoid any interference in the internal affairs of other Gulf nations, including barring financial or political support to “deviant” groups, which is used to describe anti-government activist groups.
The agreement, referred to as the Riyadh agreement, specifically mentions not supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Gulf allies have repeatedly alleged Qatar supports, as well as not backing opposition groups in Yemen that could threaten neighboring countries.
In justifying their boycott launched last month, Qatar’s Gulf counterparts accuse Doha of financially supporting Hezbollah and other terror groups, in addition to backing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
In the first agreement, the countries also vowed not to support “antagonistic media,” an apparent reference to Al Jazeera — the satellite news station based in Qatar and funded by its government — which other Gulf states accuse of trumpeting opposition groups in the region including Egypt and Bahrain.
A second agreement headlined “top secret” and dated November 16, 2014, adds the King of Bahrain, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Prime Minister of the UAE. It specifically mentions the signatories’ commitment to support Egypt’s stability, including preventing Al Jazeera from being used as a platform for groups or figures challenging the Egyptian government.
The second agreement specifically mentions Al Jazeera, and not other media outlets like the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya. After the agreement was signed, Al Jazeera had shut down a channel dedicated to Egypt coverage: Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr.
A supplemental document to the 2013 agreement signed by the countries’ foreign ministers discusses implementation of the agreement.
It includes provisions barring support of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as outside groups in Yemen and Saudi Arabia that pose a threat to security and stability of Gulf Cooperation Council countries, a six-nation group that includes Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar.
The agreements do not single out Qatar, as the provisions included apply to all countries who signed it.
In response to CNN questions, a Qatari spokesman said in a statement that it was Saudi Arabia and the UAE who “have broken the spirit of the agreement.”
“A full reading of that text will show that the intent of the 2013/14 agreements was to ensure that sovereign GCC nations be able cooperate within a clear framework,” said Sheikh Saif Bin Ahmed Al-Thani, director of Qatar’s government communication office.
“Their demands — that Qatar close down Al Jazeera, force the breakup of families, and pay ‘compensation’ — are demands that bear no relation to the Riyadh agreements,” he added. “Further, at no point did Saudi Arabia or the UAE use the mechanisms in the Riyadh agreement to communicate their concerns to Qatar.”
Al Thani said that the current list of demands put to Qatar “represent an unwarranted and unprecedented attack on Qatar’s sovereignty, and it is for that reason that they have been rejected by Qatar and condemned by the international community.”
“This crisis was triggered by a hacking, fabricated statements, and a coordinated media campaign against Qatar,” he said. “From the beginning, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have attempted to conceal facts from the general public, including their own citizens, going so far as to block Al Jazeera and other media outlets within their borders.”
The documents hint at longstanding tensions between the countries in the GCC.
In March 2014, for instance, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar because they alleged Qatar was not implementing the first agreement’s pledge not to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.
But the agreements also appear to be an attempt to improve relations. Citing “extensive deliberations in which they conducted a full revision of what taints the relations between the [Gulf Cooperation] Council states,” the first agreement states that the parties agreed to “abolish whatever muddies the relations.”
But the agreements also provide new insight to help explain why nine Middle Eastern countries, led by Saudi Arabia, cut ties with Qatar in June over its alleged support of terrorism.
Qatar has called the allegations leveled last month “unjustified” and “baseless.”
Four of the Arab States that boycotted Qatar submitted a list of 13 demands to end the diplomatic crisis, including shuttering Al Jazeera.
The list also included demands to cut ties to extremist organizations, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and ISIS, to halt the development of a Turkish military base in the country and to stop the practice of giving Qatari nationality to their citizens.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said last week that Qatar’s had responded negatively to the demands, saying Qatar’s response was “overall negative and lacked any substance.”
Qatari’s foreign minister argued some of the demands violated international law.
“If you are looking at the demands — there are accusations that Qatar is supporting terrorism — they are shutting free speech, shutting the media outlets, expelling people. … So there are a lot of demands which are against the international law,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last week.
Trump administration officials are hoping they can help broker a resolution to the diplomatic crisis. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is making stops in Qatar and then Saudi Arabia this week as part of his trip through the region, where he was already meeting Monday with officials in Turkey — allied with Qatar in the dispute — and Kuwait, which is playing a mediator role.
R.C. Hammond, a State Department spokesman, said the purpose of Tillerson’s trip was “to explore the art of the possible of where a resolution can be found,” and the US was “looking for areas of common ground where a resolution can stand.”
“We’ve had one round of exchanges and dialogue and didn’t advance the ball,” Hammond told reporters. “We will work with Kuwait and see if we can hash out a different strategy. … This is a two-way street. There are no clean hands.”
President Donald Trump also spoke last week to the leaders of Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
When the Gulf countries first cut ties with Qatar, however, Trump appeared to support the Gulf countries cutting ties with Qatar, saying that Doha had to stop funding terrorism. Trump’s comments came following his visit to Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip as president, and contradicted his secretary of state.
UPDATE: This story has been edited for clarity and to add the text of the supplemental agreement signed by countries’ foreign ministers.

Qatar says list of demands by Arab states not realistic

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

Qatar says list of demands by Arab states not realistic

An aerial view of high-rise buildings emerging through fog covering the skyline of Doha, as the sun rises over the city, in Doha, Qatar, 15 February 2014Image copyright EPA
Image caption Qatar, which is rich in natural gas, is home to 2.7 million people

Qatar’s foreign minister has rejected a list of 13 conditions set by four Arab states for lifting sanctions, saying it is neither reasonable nor actionable.

Qatar is under strict sanctions from Saudi Arabia and its allies, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain. They accuse Qatar of backing terrorism.

Among other things, they have demanded the closure of Al Jazeera TV, which is funded by the Qatari government.

The UAE’s foreign minister has suggested they may cut ties completely.

But Anwar Gargash added that the countries were not seeking to overthrow the Qatari leadership, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Qatar has been under unprecedented diplomatic and economic sanctions for more than two weeks, with Iran and Turkey increasingly supplying it with food and other goods.

It denies accusations that it is funding terrorism and fostering regional instability.

The four countries also want Qatar to reduce its ties with Iran and close a Turkish military base, setting a deadline on Friday of 10 days.

What has Qatar’s government said?

The government is reviewing the demands, a spokesman has said.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, quoted by Al-Jazeera, said: “The US secretary of state recently called upon the blockading nations to produce a list of grievances that was ‘reasonable and actionable’.

“The British foreign secretary asked that the demands be ‘measured and realistic.’ This list does not satisfy that [sic] criteria.”

Media caption Giles Trendle of Al Jazeera: “We’re not partisan to any particular group or ideology or government”

He said the demands were proof that the sanctions had “nothing to do with combating terrorism… [but] limiting Qatar’s sovereignty, and outsourcing our foreign policy”.

Al Jazeera accused them of trying to silence freedom of expression, adding: “We assert our right to practise our journalism professionally without bowing to pressure from any government or authority.”

What effect are sanctions having?

Qatar’s main import routes – by land from Saudi Arabia and by sea from container ships docked in the UAE – have been disrupted, and much of the surrounding airspace has been closed to its air traffic.

Map showing Qatar and other Gulf states

However, the small but wealthy country has so far avoided economic collapse by finding alternative routes.

Qatari citizens living in neighbouring countries or with family living there have been hit harder, Reuters news agency notes, because of ultimatums issued for them to leave.

What happens if the demands are not met?

The UAE’s foreign minister said there would be a “parting of ways” with Qatar if it failed to meet them.

“The alternative is not escalation,” he said. “The alternative is parting of ways. It’s very difficult for us to maintain a collective grouping with one of the partners… actively promoting what is an extremist and terrorist agenda.”

He described Qatar as a “Trojan horse” within the group of Arab monarchies.

Where is the US in this?

Correspondents say there has been frustration in Washington over the time taken by the Saudis and others to formalise their demands.

Media caption The disruption could have an impact on Qatar if the dispute drags on

US President Donald Trump has taken a hard line towards Qatar, accusing it of being a “high-level” sponsor of terrorism.

However, the Arab states involved in the crisis are all close allies of the US, while the largest US base in the Middle East is in Qatar.


Do you live in Qatar? Have you been affected by the sanctions? Let us know by emailing [email protected]

Qatar Has Two Choices To Resolve Gulf Dispute: Conform Or Live In Isolation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Two Choices to Resolve the Qatar Crisis

Those who know the history of Qatar’s disputes with its neighbors know that finding a solution is easy. I will reveal this solution at the end of the article, but first, here is a brief summary of the history of the crisis.

It began in the late 1990s after Qatar reignited the dispute with Bahrain over the islands. In 1995, the Doha coup took place and new Prince Hamad rejected the Saudi mediation and instead insisted on heading to the International Criminal Court. This ultimately fell in Bahrain’s favor that won a ruling that granted it power over most of the disputed land.

Had Qatar accepted the mediation of late King Fahd, it would have gotten more or at least as much as Bahrain.

The Qatari government then turned against Saudi Arabia and renewed its dispute over new border areas after it had resolved the first dispute through the mediation of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. That settlement saw Saudi Arabia make concessions to Qatar in 1992. The second dispute was resolved in 2001 through appeasing both sides.

Qatar however reneged on its pledges and waged media wars of incitement against Saudi Arabia. It harbored those who oppose the Kingdom and backed al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden, who in his first speech called for changing the regime in Saudi Arabia by force.

Despite the numerous settlements, Doha continued on financing and supporting opposition groups that want to topple the governments of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

After the 2011 Arab Spring revolts, Qatar sought to expand its incitement and began to target the United Arab Emirates because it was backing those opposing Doha. It then turned its attention to Egypt in an unprecedented and blatant way, vowing to topple the regime of Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

This would all have been understandable if the Qatar government itself accepted change through democracy or by force. The problem however is that it is the least tolerant Gulf state. It had sentenced a Qatari poet to 15 years in prison over a poem!

Four Gulf countries finally said enough and they all announced that they were severing ties with Qatar.

It appears that there a number of conditions that can restore the situation back to normal, but it seems that they will not go with the reconciliation approaches of 2013 and 2014. Qatar had at the time signed in Riyadh a pledge of 20 points, of which only one has been implemented.

The truth is that the four countries can live in peace without having ties with Qatar. It seems however that Qatar is the one who cannot tolerate this situation given its outcry after the June 5 statement on cutting ties.

How can this problem be solved and how will Qatar be able to come out of the crisis?

It wants to repeat its old methods of bringing in mediators and offering pledges and perhaps change its behavior. It will then continue in its attempts to topple the regimes of these four countries or incite strife against them.

It should be noted that Qatar in its last Riyadh agreement had vowed to stop the incitement machine. Indeed, this was witnessed through its al-Jazeera channel that has been adopting a calm approach in the three years that followed the agreement. Qatar had in secret however set up websites and television stations that had taken up the incitement mission.

It may have expelled a number of anti-Gulf figures from Doha, but it gave them homes in Turkey and London. It has continued to finance and support them through secret networks that it set up in those countries.

Qatar has since the eruption of the current crisis been adopting the same old approach. It sought the help of Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah, but these countries have learned their lesson. They announced that they will continue in severing ties and living in peace without Qatar. They will seek to put an end to anything that has to do with it and destroy its internal networks.

Doha is faced with two options for resolving the crisis. It can either completely concede to the demands of the four countries or live in isolation from its surrounding.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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The complex story of Polish refugees in Iran

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ALJAZEERA NEWS NETWORK)

 

The complex story of Polish refugees in Iran

Thousands of Poles sought shelter in Iran during World War II, but today Poland has slammed the door on refugees.

‘All we took with us was a suitcase with an old rug, some pieces of jewellery and family photos,’ Stelmach recalled [Changiz M Varzi/Al Jazeera]

by

Tehran – Taji, a companion parrot, moved about freely in an apartment in central Tehran, occasionally emitting a scream.

“I don’t like to put him in a cage,” Helena Stelmach, 86, told Al Jazeera. “I don’t like imprisonment.”

In 1942, about 120,000 refugees from Poland began their exodus to Iran from remote parts of the Soviet Union [AP]

Nearly eight decades ago, Stelmach learned her own lessons about imprisonment, exile and the process of seeking refuge. In September 1939, German soldiers invaded Poland from the west and Soviet soldiers occupied the country’s east.

The Soviet Union’s Red Army deported more than one million Poles to Siberia, and Stelmach’s family was among those targeted. Soviet soldiers arrested and imprisoned her father in Poland, while eight-year-old Helena and her mother were forced to leave their home.

“It was midnight when they came for us,” Stelmach said. “First, they sent us to a church, and then to Siberia. All we took with us was a suitcase with an old rug, some pieces of jewellery and family photos.”

In her diary, self-published in Farsi in 2009 under the title From Warsaw to Tehran, she recalled how Polish refugees died every day in Siberia from the freezing weather, maltreatment and disease. Because of malnutrition, their teeth sometimes fell out of their mouths while they were talking.

The nightmare lasted for two years, until Germany attacked the Soviet Union, prompting Joseph Stalin to change his stance towards the Poles. In 1942, he freed them to move south to Iran, and then to Lebanon and Palestine.

Back in those days, tens of thousands of Poles arrived in the Middle East seeking shelter. Today, however, Poland has slammed the door on a refugee influx going in the opposite direction.

READ MORE: The Italian family hosting six refugees in their home

“It’s not something that people and politicians like talking about or even mentioning,” said Narges Kharaghani, an Iranian director who recently completed a documentary on Polish refugees in Iran during World War II. “I think there has been an untold consensus to forget this topic. After the end of the Second World War, the victorious countries only wanted to talk about Hitler’s crimes. Nowadays, considering how the West is treating immigrants, it doesn’t make any sense for them to talk about that exodus.”

In 1942, about 120,000 refugees from Poland began their exodus to Iran from remote parts of the Soviet Union.

“When they arrived in Iran, the country was gravely affected by political instability and famine,” said Reza Nikpour, an Iranian-Polish historian and member of the Iran-Poland Friendship Association. “Moreover, the Soviets and the Brits confiscated and sent all of the resources from Iran to the frontline in Europe. All of this happened despite the fact that Iran had declared its neutrality when the war started.”

The Poles entered Iran from the port city of Anzali on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. Soviet ships docking in Anzali were packed with starving Polish refugees, and they were the lucky ones: Many others died along the way from typhus, typhoid and hunger. Their bodies were unceremoniously discarded into the sea.

Stelmach, pictured here with her father in Poland, has lived in Iran ever since the exodus [Changiz M Varzi/Al Jazeera]

Stelmach was fortunate enough to avoid disease and hunger. Her mother was a nurse, and in return for taking care of the ship captain’s sick son during their journey across the Caspian Sea, the young Stelmach received food and care. After two days at sea, they arrived in a new country that was in dire need of food and suffering from bread riots in its capital.

Several sources have documented that when Polish refugees were loaded on to trucks to relocate from Anzali to Tehran, Iranians threw objects at them. The frightened refugees at first thought they were being stoned, but soon noticed that the objects were not rocks, but rather cookies and candies.

“The Polish refugees were nourished more by the smiles and generosity of the Iranian people than by the food dished out by British and Indian soldiers,” noted an article by Ryszard Antolak, a specialist in Iranian and Eastern European history whose mother was among the refugees who ended up in Iran.

In Tehran, the refugees were accommodated in four camps; even one of the private gardens of Iran’s shah was transformed into a temporary refugee camp, and a special hospital was dedicated to them.

“Polish refugees were well-received in Iran, and they integrated into the host society and worked as translators, nurses, secretaries, cooks and tailors,” Nikpour told Al Jazeera. “Some of them also married Iranians and stayed in Iran permanently.”

READ MORE: Iran – Trump’s Muslim ban ‘will rip our family apart’

The Polish refugees launched a radio station and published newspapers in their mother tongue. They entered into Iran’s art scene and, as with other waves of immigration, their food appeared on the menus of their host communities. The pierogi, a Polish dumpling, is still very common in Iran.

It was food that first brought together Stelmach and her husband, Mohammad Ali. Stelmach’s mother rented a shop in central Tehran selling Polish dishes; Ali worked in a neighbouring shop while simultaneously taking an English language course.

 

“Helen knew English and German,” Ali recalled with a smile. “I asked her to help me with the English language, and here we are, half a century later, and we are still together.”

Many changes have taken place since Stelmach and her mother came to Iran: World War II ended, an Islamic revolution took place in Iran, the Iron Curtain fell, Poland became part of the European Union – yet, throughout all of these years, Stelmach and her mother opted to remain in Iran.

They have visited their former homeland several times, and even received the Order of the White Eagle, one of Poland’s highest honours.

In 1983, Stelmach’s mother died, and she was buried in the same cemetery as the casualties of the Polish exodus in 1942. Today, a long, high wall separates the cemetery from a sea of matchbox-shaped apartments in one of Tehran’s oldest neighbourhoods.

“There are some visitors still coming to the [cemetery],” caretaker Hamid Tajrishi told Al Jazeera. “A few days ago, a group of old Polish tourists came … Also, sometimes foreigners come individually, seeking the names of their grandparents in our archive, and then they place a bouquet of flowers on their graves and leave.”

Source: Al Jazeera

Iran Poland Middle East

Ethiopia: Peace And Prosperity For All Or Not At All

(This article is courtesy of the Ethiopian Observer News Paper)

Expose and fight the enemies of the Ethiopian people

What has been going on in Ethiopia during the last couple of months is worrisome, frightening, outraging, perplexing as well as shameful for those involved in tarnishing the positive image of Ethiopia. Ethiopia, which arose from the ashes of a civil war and dictatorship 25 years ago, has seen enormous development and advancements in many aspects of societal development, such as education, infrastructure, foreign investment, etc. During these 25 years the population has doubled, GDI per capita more than doubled, GDP more than quadrupled and life expectancy and life expectancy at birth increased with more than 35%. The dark days of the fascist junta came to an end giving rise to a hopeful future, where no one is left aside, where all the nations and nationalities standing in unison on equal basis were to bury the unjust and discriminatory system of the past regimes. It was a system, where a majority of Ethiopians were regarded as second class citizens and sidelined as if Ethiopia belonged to a specific group or central minority ethnic group, defining the impetus of “one country and one people”.

However, thanks to the protracted armed and systematic liberation struggle against the oppressive military regime, the dawn of change came by the resolute willpower of all the peoples of Ethiopia in 1991. Since then the Ethiopian nations and nationalities with their administrative regions in a federal system have enjoyed their full liberties of managing their own affairs such as language, culture, education, budget, etc. It is no wonder that adherents of the past regimes or those who support the unitary and old systems and remnants of the “town-guerilla-fighter” cells are rehabilitating to stir violence here and there and try to take over the government. It is the last-ditch and effort of a dying minority in the Diaspora orchestrating its fanfare of empty bravado, heroism and with its “kererto” mentality by deceiving poor Ethiopians into a situation where they risk dying and being maimed for their own egoistic and jingoistic ambitions. It is the ultimate despondency, which we see for those intoxicated by hatred and malignity, acting with precipitation.

No, the Ethiopia of today is not built on layers of straw but is a robust organic base bound by the blood and sacrifices of millions of peoples of Ethiopia. It is neither the TPLF nor the Tigray people who have been targeted, it is a target aimed at the freedom fighting peoples of Ethiopia, who would not allow any implanted hate-mongers with fascist ideas to make them stumble upon their hard-won victory. This generation of Ethiopians should not be oblivious to the resolve, courage, bravery and sacrifice of the heroes and heroines to free and build this progressive, peaceful Ethiopia that today is marching towards prosperity. Ethiopia today is, whether its enemies like it or not, an oasis of peace in a region set on fire with clan, tribal and fundamentalist conflicts. Not only is Ethiopia considered a regional mediator and player but is the main contributor to the peace-keeping forces under the auspices of the UN.

In the last few weeks, thousands of Tigrians were displaced, evicted, chased, tortured and killed in different parts of Gonder in the Amhara region for inexplicable reasons and anomalous to what opposition against government is. Though this stand and process of overwhelming harassment, purge and robbery has been simmering and going on since the last celebration of the nations and nationalities (as I wrote about in the Ethiopian observer (http://www.ethioobserver.net/Force_of%20_destruction.htm) and Aigaforum,(http://aigaforum.com/article2016/Forces-of-destruction-should-be-curtailed.pdf), in articles dated June 12, 2016 and the repeated coverage by audio reportages by Tamrat Yemane), no measures were taken until these forces of hate with parochial designs supported by the extremist Diaspora tried to destroy the very fabric of Ethiopian unity, tolerance and solidarity, attributes unique to Ethiopia. Who has precedence to define and determine ones identity as Welkait, if not the people themselves of Welkait? Why were all the meetings summoned about Welkait without the prime representation and consent of the people of Welkait, thereby adventuring the peace and security of the region with internal strife and resentment against Tigrians? One does wonder now after these incidents, why local and state administrators and federal government failed to uphold law and order and take the necessary reinforcements. Who armed all these trigger happy ragtag “armies” whether intentional or otherwise to go berserk and threaten citizens are also questions that must be addressed in this context. Who lies behind this unrest and who is to be held responsible for the consequences, of this crime against humanity are questions which the federal government has to deal with in the near future.

The government should not be dilatory and has to investigate the whole episode thoroughly and make doubly sure by bringing those criminals to justice so that no such ethnic related cleansing will ever be allowed on Ethiopian soil. It is also incumbent upon the government (regional or federal) to immediately denounce such heinous crimes, take immediate measures as sincere and official apology to the victims without trying to silence media flow. Lack of government information is already driving concerned people to seek other alternative social media outlets (Facebook, personal video clips, Al Jazeera, BBC, VOA, local radios/TVs, etc.) and other dubious sources leading to a wide range of speculations. Above all the rule of law should be respected, showing the need to inculcate into the people their rights and obligations in regard to the Constitution, the supreme document of the country. Were the previous riots, which followed though illegal in terms of breach of regulations and public order, manifestations against maladministration and good governance? They can hardly be proven as their sole purpose showed rampage, demolition of public and private properties and businesses, lootings, beatings, both verbal and physical assaults against Tigrians, disrespect of the federal flag, etc Years of mutual trust, respect, coherence, cultural interaction and integration were all suddenly dispelled by the tumultuous works of reckless individuals and mobs.

The stipulated facts speak for themselves and so far more than 4000 Tigrians with families have fled to the Sudan. This is not a simple rigmarole, but a calculated blow at innocent people, which makes one to be consumed with anger and desperation. The Tigrian people paid an excessive price with more than 60 00 thousand dead and more than 100,000 injured to liberate the country from an abysmal dictatorship, taking the brunt leadership during the armed struggle to confront an army of more than 300 000 man ( which is more than10% of the population in Tigray). Trying to dehumanize and abase the whole people of Tigray by interahamwe-like sedition by mendacious propaganda, scurrilous attacks and duplicities by the likes of ESAT (the Eritrean sponsored television channel), its wretch cronies such as the ignoble Al-Mariam (with his jejune writings and creator of “special phrases”, Messay the quack philosopher and unscrupulous Mengistu ideologue or Tamagn (Mengistu’s personal azmari and many of his likes living as bums), Ginbot 7 (the sorcerer promising power on silver platter in six months if you donate $500 and 10 years have gone since) and the lubber Aregawi (sole member of an organization with his draft declaration that the plunder in Gonder would be repeated elsewhere) will not for a moment deter or thwart the people of Tigray from its struggle for the rights of nations and nationalities, co-existence with equal opportunities for all Ethiopians.

The prime motive of the enemies is to drive a wedge between the nations and nationalities and people’s of Ethiopia. These mercenaries strive to see a failed Ethiopian state that is engaged in internal fighting and squabbling. Ethiopia has survived similar hate mongers and their intrigues for centuries and no retribution or hatred is to be ensued as a consequence of this rabble rousing staged by the extremists. It is similar as the saying of the donkey “after my death, let the forage disappear.” They know well that these diehards and hired mercenaries from the Diaspora would never manage to run the country, not even for a day. Their vision of Ethiopia is an Ethiopia which would lead to a precipice never to resurrect as a unified and proud nation. These fools iterate with duplicity, repeat their usual mantra that “Tigrians have benefited from the regime and therefore should be targeted as enemies together with the TPLF, minority government, plundering Ethiopian resources, etc.” and thereby seducing other people into hating and abetting in crime. These bigots bereft of reason would not present a single benefit gained by the Tigrian people from this new political system. On the contrary, most beggars on the streets of Addis and other cities are Tigrains, a quarter of Tigray’s population is under safety net programs dependent on handouts, very poor and substandard roads (based on my own observations compared to other places in Ethiopia), cities and a regional capital with almost a half million people lacks drinking water (distributed every three or four days) as well as electricity, rampant corruption and expropriation, confiscation of land, farmlands and park areas (e.g. the elites confiscation of land in Tchomaa in Mekelle at a lease value of 1 Birr/m2 and also known popularly as sefer), hindrances to private establishment of private businesses, poor public services, high rate of unemployment, lack of good governance, lack of democratic rights and implementation of the Constitution as also is the case in other parts of the country. Thus, trying to portray Tigray as the hub of affluence and a favored region can only be expected from deranged and malicious individuals blinded by hate.

What these extremist groups, who are out of touch with reality both during previous and current situations want is, bloodbath among Ethiopians in order to fill their ego and lust ensconced abroad wallowing in luxury both for themselves and their families. They will never slough off their hatred or reconcile with realities on the ground, but are determined to kindle civil war and disturbances in Ethiopia. It is the same group of extremists, who demonstrated against the debt cancellation, against the millennium dam project on Abay, invite other countries to wage war against Ethiopia, support the one-man regime in Asmara as a democrat and future liberator of Ethiopia, dispatch terrorist groups, attack Ethiopian delegates and other members of the Ethiopian Diaspora, occupy Embassies and defile the national flag, lobby businessmen not to invest in Ethiopia, boycott of the national carrier, etc. Knowing their background, Ethiopians both abroad and at home should not fall victims to the wiles of these unscrupulous rogues. It is purposefully done so that Ethiopians cannot not cooperate, work together and extirpate poverty from its roots and foster a climate of unity and hope.

Thus, it is the work of all peace-loving and dedicated Ethiopians to expose and if necessary to take the cases to the courts when cases of hate crimes and incitement to ethnic cleansing and genocide are published by individuals/groups or broadcasted. We should act in unison to disclose their anti-Ethiopian stance, whenever and wherever possible so that our Ethiopia belongs to all and not only to specific tribesmen with specific identity. They are few in numbers but vociferous, where we, the majority have allowed them to enhance their agenda of hate and spite. We should say no more Somalia, Rwanda, South/Sudan, DR Congo, Syria, Libya, etc. and hands off the people of Tigray. Furthermore, we know that those displaced are in desperate need for temporary or permanent rehabilitation in the form of shelter and food and thus people who are compassionate for those who are in distress should donate either through their organizations or on individual bases. The determined solidarity and sympathy shown by the Ethiopian Somali people by traveling to Tigray and donating 10 million Birr for this emergency situation should be hailed and followed.

However, what has been said above is not to be construed as a statement to limit in any way the inalienable rights of Ethiopians to oppose, express their own opinions in writing and speech, organize themselves in parties, and elect their representatives. On the contrary I cannot defend the indefensible facts on the ground. It is known that a well-informed and democratic society helps to curb and question the rulers and administrators, effectively introduce a check and balance system, infuse accountability, liability and responsibility in governance, etc. Thus, the existence of other parties contending with clear objectives and a political agenda working closely with the people by organizing and sharing views and discussions and acknowledging the Constitution should be welcome with open arms by all the people. What we have seen so far is that the ruling party has limited the space by painting any opposition as enemy of the people (compare the truth and reconciliation commission in South Africa letting the proponents of Apartheid to participate with full legal rights after being granted amnesty) instead of allowing and encouraging pluralism, free association of people, free press by enabling the democratic rights of the people to take root as enshrined in the constitution, while the opposition as weak is it might be due to its internal problems for power within, is embroiled in fighting, blackmailing, smear campaign and mudslinging within its rank and file. Peaceful negotiations, cooperation in matters of vital internal and external matters for the country should be the driving forces for both the government bearing party and the opposition politicians. The government should also go as far as appointing opposition persons to public and government positions in a gesture of good-will and a win-win solution (learn from experiences from other countries that all who do not support you are enemies)

Rent seeking, corruption and lack of good governance have been identified as problems by all stakeholders including the EPRDF in its recent and previous congresses. The corrupt officials and opportunities clinging to power and averting any change or reform through networks, kinship, friendship, neighborhood or from the same area are clear facts. It is really strange that the system only allows a similarity of ideas by stigmatizing those who have different ideas, although based on hearsays of individuals from abroad and within. It is obvious for anyone and according to the complaints of the people who a public servant earning 3000-5000 Birr owns one or two villas or in some cases real estate worth millions of Birr. Discrimination of party members and non-members among the populace are points raised by many in obtaining special offers such as jobs or other benefits. A large amount of graduates from the flourishing universities and colleges are desperate in finding jobs with extensive unemployment as a result, giving rise to hopelessness, apathy, drugs, trafficking, theft and/or migration. There is a demographic change in Ethiopia, where 60% of the youth is under the age of 25, after the EPRDF take-over in 1991. This young generation of Ethiopians is enlightened, demanding and well-informed and therefore cannot be easily hoodwinked to give up its demand for change and equal opportunities. Demoted, superannuated or retired party apparatchiks are appointed again to higher posts as if Ethiopia lacks qualified, educated, experienced and devoted professionals.

Mega projects and others have been on delay than their expected timeline without the proper transparency leading to larceny or bribes by the bidding part. Although the findings of the auditor general show clear embezzlement of public money by criticizing the prodigality of the administration, no measures have so far been taken against those responsible. A long list of misconduct is abundant from the village level to the cities by the people complaining of the unjust system and excessive corrupt practices and history will record these abuses of trust by the people. Hubris, arrogance and nonchalance to peoples voice is what led to the downfall of many nations both past and present and the EPRDF government should learn from this rich and available history. The Prime Minister once stated that “people from North to South are telling us to pack and go”. Thus, it is long overdue that the PM takes measures in the much awaited reforms for democratic change and in the fight against rent seekers/corrupt officials.

Finally I would like to quote a taxi-driver whom I met in Addis recently “What is going on in Gonder and its vicinity is madness. This is coordinated by the Diaspora, who lives in luxury with their children attending the best schools without any daily disturbances in their lives. We have to make our living and fill the bellies of five people and all other costs. We can only do this if we have a country in peace with itself. And if we want to change our government, it has to be through peaceful means” and added the following proverb in Amharic and with warning “Yekotun awerd bla yebbutan talech”.

Wish all a Happy Ethiopian New Year! (01-01-2009 EC)

 

Long live Ethiopia with its diversity in unity!

Dr. Yohannes Kiros, 11-09-2016

Maldives: Will The Island Nation Be A Legal Democratic Government Or Military Rule

(This article is courtesy of the Saudi Gazette)

Nasheed allies with Gayoom to topple Maldives president

 
Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed speaks during a press conference in London in this file photo. — AFP
Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed speaks during a press conference in London in this file photo. — AFP

COLOMBO — Exiled Maldives opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed has said he is in talks with the former president, who repeatedly threw him in jail, to “legally topple” the current leader of the troubled honeymoon islands.

Nasheed became the first democratically elected president of the Maldives in 2008, but now lives in exile in London after he was jailed on terrorism charges that he says were politically motivated.

 

In the past he has accused Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives for 30 years and is still regarded as the power behind the throne, of being behind his downfall.

But on Tuesday he indicated he wanted to bury the hatchet with Gayoom, amid reports of a rift between the former strongman leader and his half-brother, current President Abdulla Yameen.

“How can you build a future if you always want to go back to live in the past,” Nasheed said in Colombo via a video link from London.

“Yameen’s days are numbered. He has lost the support of the people and the international community. We can restore democracy in the Maldives.”

Nasheed said he had forgiven Gayoom and was in talks with his faction of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) “for a new political alignment.”

He did not disclose details, but said he had visited Colombo late last month to meet fellow dissidents and map out a strategy to “legally topple” Yameen.

He served repeated jail terms under Gayoom’s autocratic leadership before winning the country’s first democratic election in 2008.

There was no immediate comment from Gayoom, however, and diplomats in Colombo were cautious about the prospect of such an alliance.

“The opposition was expecting Gayoom to get a section of his party to withdraw support for Yameen late last month, but for some reason that did not happen,” said one western diplomatic source in Colombo, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It is not easy for the opposition to organize any agitation inside the country because all their leaders are either in jail or in exile.”

An alliance between the 78-year-old Gayoom and Nasheed was unthinkable even a few months ago.

Gayoom who ruled the country for 30 straight years till 2008, was accused of engineering Nasheed’s downfall in 2012.

Nasheed said he was forced to step down following a mutiny by police and security forces after weeks of anti-government protests in the capital island Male.

The former president does not hold any office in the current administration, but is said to command the loyalty of a majority of the 33 PPM legislators in the 85-member majlis, or parliament.

But an intensifying crackdown on political dissent in the atoll nation of 340,000 people has dented its popular image as an upmarket holiday paradise.

Almost all key opposition leaders and a number of ruling party dissidents have either been jailed or gone into exile since Yameen took office after winning a controversial run-off election against Nasheed in 2013.

Last week police in the Maldives raided the offices of the Maldives Independent website hours after Al Jazeera aired a documentary accusing Yameen and his government of corruption.

The website’s editor had been quoted in the documentary.

In July, Gayoom’s daughter Dunya Maumoon quit as foreign minister saying she did not agree with a plan to bring back the death penalty after nearly seven decades.

Nasheed was jailed for 13 years in 2015 but granted prison leave earlier this year for medical treatment in London, where he secured political asylum.

A UN panel has ruled that his imprisonment was illegal and ordered the regime to pay him compensation.

The United States has said democracy is under threat in the strategically located archipelago, which sits on key international shipping lanes.

Yameen’s spokesman Ibrahim Hussain Shihab has said there are differences within the ruling party, but that these are not serious.

Asked on Tuesday whether Gayoom would help bring down his own half-brother, Nasheed replied: “Half brothers hitting at each other is Maldives politics.”

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