Tag Archives: Qatar

Qatar Emir challenges global community silence on Israeli occupation.

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Qatar’s leader says Israel continues to carry out ‘flagrant violation of international resolutions’.

Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has questioned the credibility of the international community as it “stands by, unable to take any effective action to confront Israeli intransigence and its continued occupation of Palestinian and Arab land”.

In his video speech at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the emir questioned the role of countries and organisations for failing to uphold the resolutions against the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and its expansion of settlement building.

He accused Israel of carrying out “flagrant violation of international resolutions and the two-state solution as agreed upon by the international community”.

“The international community stands by, unable to take any effective action to confront Israeli intransigence, its continued occupation of Palestinian and Arab land, the imposition of a stifling siege on the Gaza Strip, [and] the expanding settlement policy, among others,” he said.

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“Peace can only be achieved when Israel fully commits to the international terms of reference and resolutions that are accepted by the Arab countries and upon which the Arab Peace Initiative is based.”

The Arab Peace Initiative was a plan put forth by Saudi Arabia in 2002 that called for normalising relations with Israel in exchange for an end to its occupation of Palestinian territories, the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, as well as a just solution for Palestinian refugees.

Qatar’s ruler said Israel is trying to “circumvent these parameters” and any arrangements that do not take these factors into account “will not achieve peace”.

“Failure to find a just solution to the Palestinian cause, Israel’s continued settlements, and forcing a reality on the ground without being deterred, this is what raises the biggest question about the credibility of the international community and its institutions,” the emir added.

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He called upon the international community, particularly the UN Security Council, to assume its legal responsibilities and “compel Israel to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, and to put the peace process back on track through credible negotiations based on international resolutions and not on force”.

Speaking from outside the UN headquarters in New York, Noble Reporters Media knows that it was interesting to see many Arab states within the Arab League remain consistent in their views on Israel and Palestine – which revolves around the international consensus that there should be a two-state solution.

On September 15, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed agreements to normalise relations with Israel in a strategic realignment of Middle Eastern countries against Iran.

The ceremony was hosted by US President Donald Trump at the White House, capping a dramatic month when the countries agreed to normalise ties without a resolution of Israel’s decades-old conflict with the Palestinians, who have condemned the agreements


#Newsworthy…

Intra-Afghan talks opens in Qatar.

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Saturday marks start of long-delayed Doha talks with opening remarks from both sides; negotiations to begin on Monday.

After nearly two decades of war that has killed tens of thousands, peace talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban have opened in Qatar’s capital.

Key speakers at Saturday’s opening ceremony at a hotel in Doha included Abdullah Abdullah, chairperson of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, Taliban deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The negotiations, where the two warring sides will sit face-to-face for the first time, will start on Monday.

For his part, Abdullah spoke about seeking a dignified and lasting peace.

“I believe that if we give hands to each other and honestly work for peace, the current ongoing misery in the country will end,” Abdullah said, calling for a “humanitarian ceasefire”.

The talks were set to take place in March but were delayed over a prisoner exchange agreement [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Baradar, meanwhile, repeated his group’s demand for the country to adopt an “Islamic system”.

“We want Afghanistan to be an independent, developed country, and it should have a form of Islamic system, where all its citizens see themselves reflected.”

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Pompeo, for his part, told the Afghan sides that “the choice of your future political system is, of course, yours to make” as he urged them to “seize the opportunity” to secure peace.

“Each of you, I hope you will look inside your hearts; each of you carry a great responsibility, but know that you’re not alone. The entire world wants you to succeed and is counting on you to succeed,” he said.

Kicking off proceedings earlier on Saturday, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said both parties must “rise above all form of division … by reaching an agreement on the basis of no victor and no vanquished”.

Delayed talks
The intra-Afghan talks were set to take place in March but have repeatedly been delayed over a prisoner exchange agreement made as part of the United States-Taliban deal signed in February.

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In the agreement, the Taliban had agreed to release 1,000 Afghan troops, while the government said it would release 5,000 Taliban prisoners.

France and Australia objected to freeing six of the Taliban prisoners who were involved in the killing of their nationals.

Taliban and Afghan government sources told Al Jazeera a compromise was reached by sending the six prisoners to Qatar. The prisoners arrived in Doha on Friday and will remain in custody there.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said although the talks raise hopes of the war ending in the country, many challenges remain.

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“This is a new phase in diplomacy for peace in Afghanistan,” Khalilzad told reporters in a telephone briefing on Friday.

“These negotiations are an important achievement, but there are … significant challenges on the way to reaching an agreement.”

It took almost six months to get the Taliban and the government to the negotiating table, and analysts said the challenging part is to get both sides to reach an agreement.

“The various delays since the first designated start of the talks in early March show how much mistrust the two parties need to overcome,” Thomas Ruttig, co-founder of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, told Noble Reporter‘s known Media.

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“It shows how difficult the talks will be in general, given the many issues they would have to solve, with the most difficult one being Afghanistan’s future political system.”

The Afghan negotiating team includes five female representatives who will carry the responsibility of defending and protecting women’s rights during the talks.

Abdullah Abdullah called for a ‘humanitarian ceasefire’ [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

“While there is no other realistic option currently to find a negotiated end to the Afghan war, it is far from clear whether any peace deal will address major concerns of the Afghan population such as a preservation of the rights and freedoms that have been constitutionally guaranteed to them,” Ruttig said.

The Afghan government backs the current democratic political system, while the Taliban wants to reimpose its version of Islamic law as the country’s system of governance.

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The armed group has, however, given vague comments on adopting a less strict stance towards women and social equality than during their 1996-2001 rule, during which women were banned from attending school, working, taking part in politics or even leaving their homes without a male family member.

The Afghan government’s agenda for the talks is to secure a permanent ceasefire, but analysts said that will be difficult to achieve as the Taliban’s only bargaining chip has been their military strength on the ground.

“The Taliban should see these talks as a good political opportunity. If they continue to fight on the ground to exert pressure, there are less chances of the talks being successful,” Abdul Satar Saadat, a former adviser to President Ashraf Ghani, told Media known to Noble Reporters Media.

“Peace demands compromises from all sides and that means sacrifices should be made to acquire a political solution to end this war,” added Saadat.

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In the first six months of 2020, almost 1,300 civilians, including hundreds of children, have been killed in Afghanistan, according to the United Nations.

In July, President Ghani said about 3,560 Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) were killed and 6,780 more wounded in Taliban attacks between February 29 and July 21 this year.

“The suffering of the Afghan people has gone on for far too long,” UN envoy Deborah Lyons said on Friday.

“An inclusive peace process, involving the meaningful participation of women, youth and victims, upholding the human rights of every Afghan is the only path to peace.”


#Newsworthy…

Intra-Afghan talks set to hold in Qatar.

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The development comes as a final hurdle to the start of the talks – fate of six Taliban prisoners – have been resolved.

The long-awaited talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban will take place in Qatar’s capital Doha from Saturday.

Qatar’s foreign ministry made the announcement on Thursday as a final hurdle over the release of six Taliban prisoners appears to have been resolved.

“The State of Qatar is pleased to announce that the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations will commence in Doha on Saturday the 12th of September 2020,” the ministry said in the statement.

“These vitally important direct negotiations between the different Afghan parties represent a step forward in bringing lasting peace to Afghanistan.”

The Taliban, while confirming the talks, said the dialogue “intends to advance the negotiation process in an appropriate manner and bring about comprehensive peace and a pure Islamic system in the framework of our Islamic values and higher national interests”.

A permanent ceasefire is expected to be at the top of the agenda as well as a political settlement to end the years-long conflict in the country.

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The intra-Afghan talks were set to take place in March but have repeatedly been delayed over a prisoner exchange agreement made as part of the United States-Taliban deal signed in February.

Under the February deal, the US will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees from the Taliban [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

In the agreement, the Taliban had agreed to release 1,000 Afghan troops, while the government said it would release 5,000 Taliban prisoners.

France and Australia objected to freeing six of the Taliban prisoners who were involved in the killing of their nationals.

Taliban and Afghan government sources told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media a compromise was reached by sending the six prisoners to Qatar where they will remain in custody.

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“Our six brothers [Taliban prisoners] arrived in Qatar a little while ago in good health,” Taliban spokesman Naeem Wardak said in a statement on Thursday.

As part of the February agreement, the US will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees from the Taliban.

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Doha to take part in the peace talks.

Pompeo welcomed the start of negotiations, saying they will mark “a historic opportunity for Afghanistan to bring an end to four decades of war and bloodshed”.

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The Afghan government backs the current political system, while the Taliban wants to reimpose its version of Islamic law as the country’s system of governance.

The armed group has, however, given vague comments on adopting a less strict stance towards women and social equality than during their 1996-2001 rule during which women were banned from attending school, working, taking part in politics or even leaving their homes without a male family member.

The Taliban will be led by Mawlavi Abdul Hakim, the armed group’s chief justice and a close aide of the group’s chief Haibatullah Akhunzada.

The Afghan government negotiating team, including Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the National Reconciliation Council which has been tasked to hold talks with the armed group, is planning to fly to Doha on Friday.

The team also includes women’s rights activists.


#Newsworthy…

Qatar emir tells Kushner, two-state solution needed for Palestine.

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Emir met Trump’s senior adviser in Doha following a US-brokered accord between UAE and Israel to normalise ties.


Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has told White House adviser Jared Kushner that Doha supports a two-state solution, with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, to end the conflict with Israel.

The emir met US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in Doha on Wednesday following a US-brokered accord last month between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalise ties.

Sheikh Tamim told Kushner that Qatar remained committed to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, in which Arab nations offered Israel normalised ties in return for a statehood deal with the Palestinians and full Israeli withdrawal from territory captured in the 1967 Middle East War.

“During the meeting, they reviewed the close strategic relations between the State of Qatar and the United States of America, in addition to discussing a number of issues of common concern, especially the peace process in the Middle East region,” Qatar News Agency reported.

Kushner visited the UAE this week with an Israeli delegation for normalisation talks before also travelling to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

The UAE is the third Arab country to reach such an agreement with Israel after Egypt and Jordan. Kushner hopes another Arab country will normalise ties within months.

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Israel exchanged embassies with neighbours Egypt and Jordan under peace deals decades ago, but all other Arab states had demanded it first cede more land to the Palestinians.

However, UAE’s decision to have an embassy prompted criticism from stakeholders across the region.

Kushner visited the UAE this week with an Israeli delegation for normalisation talks before also travelling to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia [QNA/Handout via Reuters]

Palestinians have condemned the deal as a stab in the back by a major Arab player while they still lack a state of their own.

Turkey threatened to suspend relations with the UAE after normalisation was announced.

Israel’s rival, Iran, has been scathing in its criticism. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted Tuesday that “the UAE betrayed the world of Islam, the Arab nations, the region’s countries, and Palestine”.


SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…

Just in: Qatar announces changes to labour law.

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Country scraps need for employers’ permission before changing jobs, minimum wage set at 1,000 Qatari riyals.


Doha, Qatar – Qatar has scrapped a rule requiring employers’ consent to change jobs and said it will also implement a basic monthly minimum wage of 1,000 Qatari riyals ($274).

Sunday’s landmark announcement by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) is the latest in a series of labour reforms by the country whose treatment of migrant workers and its human rights record have been under the spotlight since it was awarded the hosting of football’s 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Under Qatar’s “kafala” (Arabic word for sponsorship) system, migrant workers needed to obtain their employer’s permission – a no-objection certificate (NOC) – before changing jobs, a law that rights activists said tied their presence in the country to their employers and led to abuse and exploitation.

With the announcement, migrant workers can now change jobs before the end of their contract subject to a notice period.

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“Either party must provide one month written notice in the first two years of the contract or two months’ notice beyond the second year of the contract,” the MADLSA said in a statement.

It added that the ministry will be “working with employers to update all employment contracts where workers earn less than the amount established by the new law [minimum wage], which will come into force after 6 months of its publication in the official gazette”.

Earlier this month, Noble Reporters Media learnt how migrant workers said they were struggling to survive in Qatar due to salary delays, non-payment of dues and NOC restrictions.

A report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the country’s “efforts to protect migrant workers’ right to accurate and timely wages have largely proven unsuccessful”.

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Addressing these issues, the MADLSA statement added: “As part of our efforts to boost the effectiveness of the Wage Protection System, the new amendments … prescribe stricter penalties for employers who fail to pay their workers’ wages and introduce penalties for employers who fail to provide adequate accommodation for their workers.”

With the announcement, migrant workers will be able to change jobs before the end of their contract subject to a notice period [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

In addition to the minimum wage, the ministry has also announced the provision of 500 riyals ($137) for accommodation and 300 riyals ($82.2) for food if those expenses are not provided as part of the contract.

The new laws have been welcomed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) which described the announcement as a “huge milestone in labour reform agenda for the state of Qatar”.

“The NOC was the last problematic part of the kafala system, this power imbalance that was created between an employee and the sponsor will no longer be there,” Houtan Homayounpour, head of the ILO project office for Qatar, told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media)

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“This will benefit workers, employer and the country. Employers will be able to look for workers that really match the job they have to offer and workers will be able to look for jobs that are more appropriate for them. This really dismantles the kafala system.

“The minimum wage law change really ensures a minimum standard of living and working for all workers from all over the world in all sectors.”

Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, described the development as “a new dawn for migrant workers in Qatar to have a fair system, to end the kafala system and normalise contracts with appropriate provisions”.

“It has been a long journey,” she added. “Frankly it will make the World Cup a much more secure environment for workers knowing that they have secured an industrialised work relations system.”


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Qatar Airways pause operations in Pakistan.


Qatar Airways has temporarily suspended its flight operations in Pakistan due to unknown reasons, said sources on Tuesday.

Earlier, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) gave permission to the airline for landing special flights in Pakistan. The foreign airline was operating flights in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar.

The airline sources said that Qatar Airways suspended its flights to Pakistan due to unknown reasons.

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The decision came at the time when the aviation authority held a meeting with the country managers of international airlines operating within Pakistan to seek suggestions pertaining to the resumption of international flights.

Additional Director General Air Vice Marshal Tanveer Bhatti chaired the meeting at the CAA headquarters. Suggestions were sought from the officials of international airlines for resuming flight schedule during the meeting.

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Earlier, Qatar Airways announced it would operate four special flights to bring back Pakistanis stranded in abroad.

The flights are part of a large repatriation operation being carried out by Pakistan in collaboration with Qatar authorities.


#Newsworthy…

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COVID-19: Qatar imposes worst penalty over failure to use mask.


Qatar on Sunday began enforcing the world’s toughest penalties of up to three years’ imprisonment for failing to wear masks in public, as it battles one of the world’s highest coronavirus infection rates.

More than 30,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the tiny Gulf country — 1.1 percent of the 2.75 million population — although just 15 people have died.

Only the micro-states of San Marino and the Vatican had higher per capita infection rates, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Violators of Qatar’s new rules will face up to three years in jail and fines of as much as $55,000.

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Drivers alone in their vehicles are exempt from the requirement, but several expats told AFP that police were stopping cars at checkpoints to warn them of the new rules before they came into force.

Wearing a mask is currently mandatory in around 50 countries, although scientists are divided on their effectiveness.

Authorities in Chad have made it an offence to be unmasked in public, on pain of 15 days in prison. In Morocco similar rules can see violators jailed for three months and fined up to 1,300 dirhams ($130).

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Qatari authorities have warned that gatherings during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan may have increased infections.

Abdullatif al-Khal, co-chair of Qatar’s National Pandemic Preparedness Committee, said Thursday that there was “a huge risk in gatherings of families” for Ramadan meals.

“(They) led to a significant increase in the number of infections among Qataris,” he said.

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Neighbouring Saudi Arabia will enforce a round-the-clock nationwide curfew during the five-day Eid al-Fitr holiday later this month to fight the coronavirus.


– Labourers at risk –


Mosques, along with schools, malls, and restaurants remain closed in Qatar to prevent the disease’s spread.

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But construction sites remain open as Qatar prepares to host the 2022 World Cup, although foremen and government inspectors are attempting to enforce social distancing rules.

Officials have said workers at three stadiums have tested positive for the highly contagious respiratory virus. Masks have been compulsory for construction workers since April 26.

Tens of thousands of migrant labourers were quarantined in Doha’s gritty Industrial Area after a number of infections were confirmed there in mid-March, but authorities have begun to ease restrictions.

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Khal said that most new cases were among migrant workers, although there has been a jump in infections among Qataris. He said the country had not yet reached the peak of its contagion.

Rights groups have warned that Gulf labourers’ cramped living conditions, communal food preparation areas and shared bathrooms could undermine social distancing efforts and speed up the spread of the virus.


#Newsworthy…

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Xavi: Messi can keep playing until he’s 37, 38 or 39, he will play at Qatar WC

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Eto’o also asked his former teammate about Lionel Messi, whose contract at Barcelona expires next summer.

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“He’s still got five or seven very good years left in him,” Xavi said about the Argentine.

“He takes good care of himself and he can keep playing until he’s 37, 38 or 39.

“He’ll play at the Qatar World Cup, I’m sure.”

~Lionel Messi

#NobleSports

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