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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Egypt asks UN to investigate Qatar for funding terror groups, while Saudi publishes list of terror-linked groups and individuals

Egypt asks UN to investigate Qatar for funding terror groups: Egypt has asked the United Nation’s Security to Council on Thursday to officially investigate claims that Qatar broke with Council resolutions and paid ransom to an Iraqi terror group, Reuters reports. "It is everywhere in the news that Qatar paid up to USD 1 bn to a terrorist group active in Iraq in order to release members of its royal family," senior Egyptian UN diplomat Ihab Moustafa Awad Moustafa told the Security Council.Qatari diplomats denied the accusations, maintaining that the country upholds the UN’s directives.

The news coincides with Saudi Arabia publishing a list of 12 entities and 59 individuals with alleged links to terror groups and Qatar, Bloomberg says. The document, which was endorsed by Egypt, UAE, and Bahrain names various Qatari charity groups as well as regional political groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Benghazi Defense Brigade in Libya. Among the individuals listed is Egyptian-born, Ikhwan-affiliated cleric Yusuf Al Qaradawi.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s envoy to Egypt left the country on Thursday as the 48-hour deadline given to him expired, Ahram Online reports.

Confusion from the Trump administration over Qatar: The US government sent mixed signals over the weekend on its policy towards Qatar. President Donald Trump supported the diplomatic and economic blockade of Qatar, declaring that the country had been a long time backer of terrorist organizations at a White House news conference on Friday. An hour earlier, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a much tempered message, calling on Egypt and the GCC to ease their blockade on Qatar. He said that the blockade carried humanitarian implications, would hurt US efforts to battle ISIS and US companies doing business there. He acknowledged Qatar’s role in funding terrorism, and urged it to do more to stop financing. Bloomberg suggests this is a deliberate Good Cop, Bad Cop tactic.

Trump’s message of support was relayed to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in a phone call on Friday.El Sisi also met on Thursday with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, during which the two leaders discussed the blockade.

Separately, Chad and Niger joined the party late, and recalled their ambassadors from Qatar for consultations on Thursday and Saturday, a day after a similar move by Senegal, Reuters reports.

Qatar remains defiant: Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Al Thani said that his country will not respond to such “baseless” accusations. "Our position on countering terrorism is stronger than many of the signatories of the joint statement – a fact that has been conveniently ignored by the authors," the Qataris, according to Reuters. This apparently does not apply to Hamas, which the Qatari government continued to voice support, calling it a “legitimate resistance movement,” according to the Times of Israel. This follows another declaration on Thursday where Qatar said it would ride out the isolation and vowed not to surrender.

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