Archaeologists Have Figured Out How The Great Giza Pyramid Was Built

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ENGLAND’S CHANNEL 9 NEWS AND UK CHANNEL 4)

 

 

Ancient Egyptians reportedly built the Great Pyramid at Giza by shifting more than 154 million kilograms of limestone in boats.

Archaeologists working with a documentary to be screened on UK’s Channel 4 claims to have unearthed an ancient scroll, a network of waterways and a ceremonial boat, The Sun reports.

The papyrus scroll is believed to date back to 2600BC and is said to be the only firsthand account of how the Great Pyramid was constructed.

The evidence claims to prove thousands of workers helped move 154,221,406kgs of limestone along the River Nile in boats made with planks and rope.

The Sun reports the limestone blocks were transported through the waterways before arriving at a purposely built inland port.

“We’ve outlined the central basin, which we think was the primary delivery area to the foot of the Giza Plateau,” archaeologist Mark Lehner said.

The Great Pyramid, which was the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu, was built in 2600BC.

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Little is known about Khufu other than that he ruled during the Forth Dynasty in the first half of the Old Kingdom after succeeding his father.

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The Truth behind Military Intervention in Qatar

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

 

Opinion

The Truth behind Military Intervention in Qatar

Only 48 hours into Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt putting their boycott with Qatar into effect, Doha straightaway announced resorting to Turkish army troops.

The move shocked all Gulf States and even other foreign forces. Neither was the rift with Qatar a newly found dilemma, nor was the list of demands put forth by the quartet unexpected. Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani had already signed onto them, but without fully falling through with implementation.

Political disputes and crises– among Arab Gulf countries in particular– have long been known to be settled through diplomacy and never military interventions.

In a nutshell, the four countries practiced rights dictated by sovereignty and have shut down all vents that could allow for evil or terror to come through the Qatari peninsula. On the other hand, Qatar’s response was to open up all ports and airspace to military troops—although it paradoxically made claims of being put under a brutal siege. The move presented a disastrous escalation for the region.

Doha, without previous warning, decided on militarizing a diplomatic crisis, unaware of the grave tensions it brought along by inviting foreign troops into the region.

Even though boycotting countries made it clear on many occasions that the row with Qatar goes beyond independent perceptions and is based on views shared by many other Arab and Islamic countries, Qatar’s reactions were shocking, nonsensical and quite rebellious–anyone could see that.

Many times, Doha’s policy-making decisions went against the interests of the Qatari people. Its confused stance and promotion of delusional claims on military threats, counteractively verifies the truth behind the quartet’s position and reasons for distancing itself up until this very moment.

Qatar’s escalatory stances sent a dangerous message it fails to see the aftermath entailed, given they compromise regional security and stability. Despite the Saudi-led bloc of four not going after a military option itself, the boycotting countries –like any other country in the world- are obliged to uphold their national security.

It is only natural that they do not allow for Doha to bring about impending threats to the security and stability of their people, which inviting foreign troops into the Gulf region exactly does. All the more, Qatar’s move was based on invalid justifications.

Absurdly, a state coming from a politically, socially and military weak position would still take on the risk of provoking mightier neighboring states which itself accuses of attempting to impose a regime change within its territory.

The matter of the fact is that regime change in Qatar was never an option, and that the goal was clearly defined by forcing the peninsula to reconsider its aggressive behavior.

It is worth noting that by Qatar turning to loud rhetoric, political cries, and foreign military intervention to escape its diplomatic crisis evidently proves that Doha policies weren’t strong enough to preserve the stability of its ruling regime in the first place. A thought-provoking scene of political adolescence?!

US President Donald Trump summarized the whole feeble Qatari cry on it being under the threat of military intervention by telling the Emir of Qatar himself “no,” when he asked Trump on whether he had warned the Saudis against taking up military action against Qatar.

Qatar’s position was embarrassing as the president of a world super power snubs its narrative which was the product of a grievances-based policy. The same cry it used to justify allowing foreign forces to set foot in the region. Qatar wrongly employed a strategy to incite the four countries, but it only backfired as it proved Doha’s regime fragile and a volatile threat to both Gulf state and regional security.

Doha’s credibility before the world has been compromised by its own lies. The Qatari regime has emerged with no cover to confront the boycott’s effects. Promoting military intervention only shows how fear-struck the peninsula regime is.

Day by day, the crisis deepens as Doha turns a blind eye.  What Qatar truly fears is not ‘military intervention’, but its revolutionary policies proving a costly failure which the regime cannot easily dodge.

Salman Al-dossary

Salman Al-dossary

Salman Aldosary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

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Egypt Sentences ISIS Killers to Death for Beheading of 21 Coptic Christians In Libya

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Egypt Sentences ISIS Killers to Death for Beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya

(PHOTO: REUTERS/SOCIAL MEDIA VIA REUTERS TV)Men in orange jumpsuits purported to be Egyptian Christians held captive by the Islamic State kneel in front of armed men along a beach said to be near Tripoli, in this still image from an undated video made available on social media on February 15, 2015. 

A court in Egypt has sentenced to death seven people over links to the Islamic State terror group in northwest Egypt and over the February 2015 beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya.

The seven were accused of being members of an Islamic State cell in Marsa Matruh and of planning attacks after having received military training at jihadist camps in Libya and Syria, AFP quoted judicial officials as saying. Three of them were sentenced to death in absentia.

The newswire added that an unspecified number of those condemned were accused of having taken part in the beheadings.

The death sentence will now be reviewed by Egypt’s mufti.

Thirteen others are on trial in the same case, and rulings for them are scheduled to be delivered on Nov. 25.

An affiliate of Islamic State, which also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, in North Sinai started an insurgency after the military’s ouster in 2013 of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

IS released a video of the 2015 beheadings, titled “A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross.” Despite the horrific actions of the jihadists, the minority Coptic community in Egypt has been emboldened by the example the 21 men set in the video in their refusal to deny Christ.

As International Christian Concern reported at the two-year anniversary of the beheadings in February, relatives of the men, who were kidnapped in separate incidents in Libya throughout December 2014 and January 2015, have been honoring the memories of their loved ones.

One widow said at the time that her husband “kept the faith, and was martyred in the name of Christ. His faith was very strong. I’m proud of him. He has lifted our heads up and honored us and all the Christians.”

The children of the 21 Christians have also said that they are “proud” of the courage their fathers showed the world by refusing to renounce their faith.

Numerous Coptic Christians cross over to Libya in search of work despite knowing that they will face severe persecution, including death.

The Sunday Times recently quoted a Coptic Christian as saying, “We know it is more likely we will die than live in Libya but we don’t have a choice… More and more people are going to Libya because of the economic crisis here. You can’t get work, you can’t make money in Egypt. We are aware of the dangers, particularly as Christians.”

In July, at least 22 Egyptian migrants were found dead in the Libyan wilderness. According to the Libyan Red Crescent, they died from heat and starvation.

A Libya intelligence report estimates that about 700 IS terrorists have re-grouped in the valleys and desert areas south of the city of Bani Walid, and another 3,000 terrorist fighters from different groups, including al-Qaeda, are operating in the country.

Newly unearthed ancient tomb with mummies unveiled in Egypt

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Newly unearthed ancient tomb with mummies unveiled in Egypt

Researchers examine the tomb on Saturday.

Luxor, Egypt (CNN)Egyptian authorities unveiled a previously undiscovered ancient tomb belonging to a goldsmith and his wife near Luxor in southern Egypt on Saturday.

The tomb, at the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis, contains “mummies, sarcophagi, statuettes, pots and other artifacts,” according to Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities.
It belonged to Amenemhat — which means the god “Amen Is In the Forefront” — and his wife Amenhotep, said Mostafa Al-Waziri, who led the Egyptian team which unearthed the 3,500-year-old tomb.
While Amenhotep is usually a man’s name, Waziri said, the team found references inside the tomb that indicated she was the lady of the house.
CNN was the first media outlet to be given access to the tomb on the day of the announcement.

Researchers discovered a number of skulls inside the tomb.

An entrance, uncovered in the courtyard of another tomb, leads to a squared chamber where, in a niche, Amenemhat is pictured with his wife in a partly damaged duo sandstone statue, Waziri said.
Between their legs is seen a little figure of their son. “The daughter, or as they used to refer (to daughters) ‘the precious,’ is usually the one pictured in this place. If the family have no daughters, they would take their daughter-in-law. It is unusual to see the son,” said Waziri.
The owners belong to the 18th dynasty of Egypt. The tomb appears to have been reused, as sarcophagi from the 22nd and 21st dynasties were found as well, said Minister of Antiquities Khaled el-Enany.

Statues discovered in the tomb, whose owners belong to the 18th dynasty.

It had two burial shafts, one of them probably dug for the mummies of Amenemhat and Amenhotep. Archaeologists found mummies, sarcophagi and funerary masks carved in wood, along with statuettes of the goldsmith and his wife.
Archaeologists also found the mummies of a woman and her two adult children in another burial shaft in the courtyard. Experts said initial analysis of the mummies shed light on the diseases from which the deceased were suffering, as well other aspects of how they lived.
The tomb also holds clues to new tombs, in the form of funerary masks belonging to four officials whose burial spots have not yet been found.
“This is not the end. This will lead to more discoveries in the future,” Waziri said.

Archaeologists also found funerary masks carved in wood and statuettes of the couple.

The clue that led to the tomb unveiled Saturday was in fact uncovered in another 3,500-year-old tomb unearthed in April in the same area, he said.
In that discovery, officials announced that they had found 10 colorful sarcophagi and numerous figurines.
The main T-shaped tomb in the April find belonged to a city judge named Userhat and is typical of New Kingdom noblemen’s tombs, the ministry said in a statement at the time.
Egyptian archeologists have also found several other tombs and statues in other areas of Egypt this year.
Parts of a 3,000-year-old colossal statue, believed to have stood about 30 feet tall, were found in Cairo in March. Archeologists unearthed the statue in a pit in an area of low-income housing in the eastern neighborhood of Matareya.
This story has been updated to clarify the translation of Amenemhat’s name made by Egyptian officials during Saturday’s news conference.

Researchers examine the tomb on Saturday.

Luxor, Egypt (CNN)Egyptian authorities unveiled a previously undiscovered ancient tomb belonging to a goldsmith and his wife near Luxor in southern Egypt on Saturday.

The tomb, at the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis, contains “mummies, sarcophagi, statuettes, pots and other artifacts,” according to Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities.
It belonged to Amenemhat — which means the god “Amen Is In the Forefront” — and his wife Amenhotep, said Mostafa Al-Waziri, who led the Egyptian team which unearthed the 3,500-year-old tomb.
While Amenhotep is usually a man’s name, Waziri said, the team found references inside the tomb that indicated she was the lady of the house.
CNN was the first media outlet to be given access to the tomb on the day of the announcement.

Researchers discovered a number of skulls inside the tomb.

An entrance, uncovered in the courtyard of another tomb, leads to a squared chamber where, in a niche, Amenemhat is pictured with his wife in a partly damaged duo sandstone statue, Waziri said.
Between their legs is seen a little figure of their son. “The daughter, or as they used to refer (to daughters) ‘the precious,’ is usually the one pictured in this place. If the family have no daughters, they would take their daughter-in-law. It is unusual to see the son,” said Waziri.
The owners belong to the 18th dynasty of Egypt. The tomb appears to have been reused, as sarcophagi from the 22nd and 21st dynasties were found as well, said Minister of Antiquities Khaled el-Enany.

Statues discovered in the tomb, whose owners belong to the 18th dynasty.

It had two burial shafts, one of them probably dug for the mummies of Amenemhat and Amenhotep. Archaeologists found mummies, sarcophagi and funerary masks carved in wood, along with statuettes of the goldsmith and his wife.
Archaeologists also found the mummies of a woman and her two adult children in another burial shaft in the courtyard. Experts said initial analysis of the mummies shed light on the diseases from which the deceased were suffering, as well other aspects of how they lived.
The tomb also holds clues to new tombs, in the form of funerary masks belonging to four officials whose burial spots have not yet been found.
“This is not the end. This will lead to more discoveries in the future,” Waziri said.

Archaeologists also found funerary masks carved in wood and statuettes of the couple.

The clue that led to the tomb unveiled Saturday was in fact uncovered in another 3,500-year-old tomb unearthed in April in the same area, he said.
In that discovery, officials announced that they had found 10 colorful sarcophagi and numerous figurines.
The main T-shaped tomb in the April find belonged to a city judge named Userhat and is typical of New Kingdom noblemen’s tombs, the ministry said in a statement at the time.
Egyptian archeologists have also found several other tombs and statues in other areas of Egypt this year.
Parts of a 3,000-year-old colossal statue, believed to have stood about 30 feet tall, were found in Cairo in March. Archeologists unearthed the statue in a pit in an area of low-income housing in the eastern neighborhood of Matareya.
This story has been updated to clarify the translation of Amenemhat’s name made by Egyptian officials during Saturday’s news conference.

Qatar crisis: Saudi Arabia angered after emir’s phone call

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Qatar crisis: Saudi Arabia angered after emir’s phone call

A picture taken on June 5, 2017 shows a man walking past the Qatar Airways branch in the Saudi capital Riyadh, after it had suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia following a severing of relations between major gulf states and gas-rich QatarImage copyrightAFP
Image captionQatar Airways has been banned from the airspace of neighbouring Gulf states

Saudi Arabia says it has suspended dialogue with Qatar, shortly after a phone call between the Qatari leader and the Saudi crown prince.

The two sides had discussed holding talks to resolve the Qatar crisis, which has seen Doha cut off from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE.

However, Saudi Arabia then accused Qatar of distorting facts about the call, and said it was ending talks.

The four countries say Qatar supports terrorism – something Doha denies.

The row led to all four Arab nations cutting ties with Qatar on 5 June – Saudi Arabia closed its land border with Qatar, while all four countries cut air and sea links with the country.

Friday’s phone call, which came after US President Donald Trump spoke separately with both sides, had initially been seen as a possible breakthrough in the crisis.

The call was the first formal contact between Riyadh and Doha since the crisis began.

State media on both sides reported that Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had discussed the need for dialogue to resolve the crisis.

Who said what?

The Saudi Press Agency said Qatar’s leader had “expressed his desire to sit at the dialogue table and discuss the demands of the four countries”, and that further details would be announced after Saudi Arabia reached an agreement with Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE.

Meanwhile, the Qatar News Agency said the Saudi crown prince had proposed assigning “two envoys to resolve controversial issues in a way that does not affect the sovereignty of states”.

Shortly afterwards, Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of not being “serious” about dialogue, and said communications between the two sides would be suspended.

The row appears to be over protocol – observers say Saudi Arabia is angered that Qatari state media did not make clear that the call was initiated by Doha.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE, who are blockading Qatar, have presented a list of conditions for the lifting of sanctions.

They include the closure of news broadcaster Al-Jazeera and reducing ties with Iran.

The group accuses the Qatari-funded channel of fostering extremism, a charge the network denies.

Diplomatic efforts led by Kuwait and backed by Western powers have so far failed to end the dispute.

On Friday, Mr Trump spoke with both sides, and the UAE, in an attempt to broker talks.

“The president underscored that unity among the United States’ Arab partners is essential to promoting regional stability and countering the threat of Iran,” the White House said in a statement.

It added that “all countries must follow through on commitments… to defeat terrorism, cut off funding for terrorist groups and combat extremist ideology”.

A map showing the location of Qatar and the countries blockading it

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…

View original post 1,094 more words

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.

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.

Saudi envoy denies Pakistani mediation in Gulf row

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI NEWSPAPER DAWN)

MARWAN bin Radwan Mirdad says PM Nawaz Sharif, while travelling to Saudi Arabia, did not indicate the purpose of his visit —INP
MARWAN bin Radwan Mirdad says PM Nawaz Sharif, while travelling to Saudi Arabia, did not indicate the purpose of his visit —INP

ISLAMABAD: Acting Saudi ambassador Marwan bin Radwan Mirdad has denied that Pakistan is mediating between Saudi Arabia and Qatar over their diplomatic row.

Speaking at a press conference at the Saudi embassy here on Thur­s­day, the Saudi charge d’affaires said Pakistani “prime minister did not say he was mediating”.

He was speaking through a translator. He rejected media reports about the Pakistani mediation effort as untrue. “Whatsoever is in the media is not correct,” he said.

Says Kuwait and Sudan are making reconciliation efforts

Last week Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif travelled to Jeddah on a daylong trip along with Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Adviser to the PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz accompanied them.

The acting ambassador’s statement puts the prime minister in a potentially embarrassing position. The PM’s Office had, in a statement before Mr Sharif’s departure on the mediation mission, said: “Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif will visit Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today in context of the emergent situation among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.”

The crisis in the Gulf started late last month with the hacking of the website of the Qatari news agency and peaked when Saudi Arabia and its allies Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates severed ties with Qatar over allegations of promoting extremism and terrorism and hindering efforts to contain Iran.

The Saudi diplomat said the crisis happened because Qatar had been persistently violating a 2014 accord between Qatar and GCC countries. Although the 2014 accord, which had then paved the way for resumption of ties between Qatar and its neighbours, is not public, it is said to be a commitment by the signatories about non-interference in each other’s affairs, cooperation on regional issues and ending support for extremist groups.

Mr Marwan said Mr Sharif, while travelling to Saudi Arabia, did not indicate the purpose of his visit.

The acting envoy separately noted that Kuwait and Sudan were making reconciliation efforts.

Pressed by the media, he said: “There is, however, a possibility that the issue could be discussed in some future meeting. Leadership of both countries is currently in Makkah.”

As per media reports, the prime minister’s mediation effort was not encouraged by the Saudi royal family. Saudi king Salman bin Abdul Aziz had told Mr Sharif that “the fight against extremism and terrorism is in the interest of all Muslims and the Ummah”.

The Saudi government usually does not acknowledge Pakistani endeavours for resolving disputes in the Gulf.

PM Sharif had undertaken a similar effort last year to reduce tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the aftermath of execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr.

However, soon after PM Sharif’s visit to the two countries, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir had denied Pakistani mediation between his country and Iran.

The Foreign Office and the Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of the military, did not respond to queries about Mr Marwan’s claim.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2017

Iran’s Rouhani backs Qatar, rejects ‘siege’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS)

Iran’s Rouhani backs Qatar, rejects ‘siege’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani voiced support on Sunday for Qatar in its confrontation with Iran’s rival Saudi Arabia and its allies, saying a “siege of Qatar is unacceptable”, the state news agency IRNA reported.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of support for Islamist militants, an allegation Qatar denies.

They have since issued 13 demands including closing Al Jazeera television, curbing relations with Iran, shutting a Turkish base and paying reparations.

“Tehran stands with the Qatari nation and government… We believe that if there is a conflict between regional countries, pressure, threats or sanctions are not the right way to resolve differences,” IRNA quoted Rouhani as telling Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in a telephone call.

“The siege of Qatar is unacceptable to us… The airspace, land and sea of our country will always be open to Qatar as a brotherly and neighboring country,” Rouhani said.

Doha, whose neighbors have closed their airspace to Qatari flights, has said it was reviewing the list of demands, but said it was not reasonable or actionable.

Shi’ite Muslim Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia accuse each other of subverting regional security and support opposite sides in conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Adrian Croft)