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Via @halawala

Pro-Qatar ad in London

Khaleeji visitors to the UK this summer will either be pleased or incensed to see that the Gulf dispute is spilling onto the streets of London.

Several London black cabs branded with messages supporting Qatar have been spotted around town this week.

In addition to the taxis, which often carry advertisements, tuk tuks with the Emir’s face and moving billboards urging an end to the blockade against Qatar have also been seen.

Many of the photos appear to have been taken in the Edgware Road area, a part of London popular among Gulf tourists.

No resolution

Most of the messages seem to be paid advertisements. However, some people have mistaken them as a show of Qatar solidarity from the UK.

It remains unclear who is footing the bill for the ads.

But they come at a time when the Gulf crisis remains at an impasse. This is despite intense mediation efforts by the US and Kuwait.

Thoughts?

Osama Saeed/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar will not need to close Al Jazeera to end the Gulf boycott, a UAE minister has said.

Instead, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE would like to see a “fundamental change and restructuring” of the news network.

Speaking to The Times this week, Noura Al Kaabi, the UAE’s media regulation minister, said:

“The staff at the channel can keep their jobs and Qatar can still fund a TV channel, but not one which provides a platform for extremists and where the English channel is a protective shield for the much more radical Arabic one.”

She added, “We need a diplomatic solution. We are not looking for an escalation.”

Wikimedia Commons

GCC

The remarks signal a softening of one of 13 previously “non-negotiable” demands presented to Qatar earlier this month.

The Gulf state refused to acquiesce to any of the demands, which in addition to closing Al Jazeera included shutting down a Turkish military base in Doha.

Media freedom

It is not clear what motivated the countries to backpedal on the Al Jazeera demand.

However, many rights groups around the world had condemned the call to close the network, saying it violated media freedom.

In recent days, the UAE has tried to reframe the argument as one about security instead.

According to the Guardian, Al Kaabi said:

“Far from being a channel of editorial freedom, Al Jazeera is very selective. It never highlights opposition to Turkey’s President Erdoğan, such as the recent civilians’ march.

They preach freedom of expression and yet Al Jazeera never ever broadcasts anything to do with opposition to the Qatar regime. The freedom of expression only operates outside the borders of Qatar.”

Whatever the reason, many people in Qatar have viewed the shift in position as a victory.

Thoughts?

MOFA

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani meets with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

 

Qatar will work with the US to establish a better way to combat terrorism financing, officials have announced.

The countries signed an agreement this week as Qatar continues to be embroiled in a dispute with its neighbors in part over allegations that it financially supports terrorist groups.

However, the boycotting nations have said the move is “not enough.”

QNA

For illustrative purposes only.

In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency, they said they will continue to isolate Qatar until “authorities are committed to the implementation of the just and full demands that will ensure that terrorism is addressed and stability and security are established in the region.”

Meanwhile in Qatar, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said yesterday that the new deal has been in the works for weeks.

He added that it had “no direct or indirect connection to the Gulf crisis or the siege imposed on Qatar.”

That said, Al Thani signed the MoU with his counterpart US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson yesterday during the US official’s visit to Qatar.

Tillerson is in the region this week specifically to help mediate the ongoing Gulf dispute, which has left Qatar at odds with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.

Few details

Officials did not go into specifics about what the MoU entails, but Tillerson said it outlines the steps each country will take to stop terrorism financing globally.

It also sets a timeline for its implementation.

According to AFP, the official expressed optimism about the Gulf dispute after meeting Qatar’s Emir:

“I’m hopeful we can make some progress to bring this to a point of resolution.

I think Qatar has been quite clear in its positions and I think very reasonable and we want to talk now … how do we take things forward, and that’s my purpose in coming.”

However, mediator Kuwait expressed clear exasperation yesterday as the crisis continues into its second month.

According to Kuwait’s official news agency, Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah expressed “bitterness” and is “extremely concerned” over “unprecedented developments” regarding the dispute.

He will however continue to help with mediation efforts.

And Tillerson will meet with foreign ministers from the four boycotting countries in Saudi Arabia today.

Thoughts?