Browsing 'Politics' News

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Qatar is likely to remain one of region’s most stable economies in the coming years due to its strong economy, top-heavy governance and politically inactive population, a new report has found.

According to BMI Research, the government’s ability “to provide its citizens with generous subsidies and economic opportunities” is a main reason for the stability.

However, Qatar has implemented some austerity measures in recent years due to lower oil prices and budget deficits.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only

But when asked about actions such as rising utility and gas prices, BMI told Doha News that these were “unlikely” to have a negative effect on stability.

Andrine Skjelland, MENA Country Risk Analyst at BMI, said:

“The scope of fiscal consolidation remains limited, and the overall impact on Qatari citizens’ living standards will be minimal.

In any case, we believe the government would be quick to scale back measures at first signs of significant popular discontent, preventing unrest from spreading.”

However, BMI’s report noted that political involvement from Qatari citizens is expected to remain “minimal.” Additionally, it forecast that foreign workers will continue to be subject to “heavy restrictions.”

It added that national policies will continue to be shaped by “a small group of elite decision makers” who face few constraints, “in turn ensuring broad policy continuity.”

Trump effect

BMI was also optimistic in terms of the big picture. For example, it asserted that Qatar’s diplomatic ties with the US will remain strong.

This is despite Donald Trump’s presidency and his views on radical Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Donald J. Trump/Facebook

US President Donald Trump

The report concluded that the continued US military presence at the Al Udeid air base and deep economic ties between the two countries will outweigh other US foreign policy concerns.

BMI’s experts added that a softer focus on human rights by the US would likely work in Qatar’s favor.

“Compared with the previous administration, we expect the US government under Trump to focus less on human rights issues and the spread of democracy in its foreign policy – a trend that will likely be welcomed in Doha, as it limits the potential for external pressure on it to implement political and social reforms.”

Muslim Brotherhood links

Trump’s team is also currently debating whether to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

This move could strain diplomatic relations between the US and Qatar, whose support of the group in Egypt has caused past conflict with its neighbors.

European External Action Service

Deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi

However, BMI asserted that Qatar’s ability to act as a peace-broker in the region, coupled with financial and military concerns, guarantee that the two countries won’t fall out over the issue.

“Doha’s ties to a broad range of state and non-state actors mean it is still considered a facilitator of MENA negotiations in Washington,” the report stated.

“The two countries also have deep trade links, particularly in the energy sector, and Doha has announced plans to invest $45bn in the US over the next five years.”

BMI added that Qatar would likely yield to US pressure over its Muslim Brotherhood ties if required to do so.

This is because relations with the US and other GCC countries are becoming increasingly important amid regional instability, according to the report’s authors.


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Dr. Najeeb Al Nuami

A prominent lawyer and former justice minister of Qatar has asserted that a new travel ban against him is “politically motivated.”

Dr. Najeeb Al Nuami has been unable to leave Qatar since Jan. 8, when he received an SMS alerting him about the ban.

Speaking to Doha News, Al Nuami said he was told that the prosecutor’s office is seeking to charge him with professional misconduct.

However, on Twitter he said that “the travel ban on me has no legal basis.”

He also told an Egyptian newspaper that the ban appeared to be a punishment for the political stances he has taken over the years.

Outspoken critic

Al Nuami served as the country’s Minister of Justice from 1995 to 1997, and is now an outspoken critic of the government.

He has defended several high-profile cases over the years, including the Qatari poet who was jailed (and eventually pardoned) for allegedly insulting the Emir; Saddam Hussein and prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.


Pardoned Qatari poet Mohammed Al-Ajami

Speaking to Doha News yesterday, he said the travel ban was a “gross abuse of prosecutorial power” and has made it difficult for him to work, as he has several clients abroad.

However, he remained defiant, adding that officials in Qatar now “have the international community to answer to.”

“The authorities think they can pressure me like this. But I don’t and won’t bow in the face of this or any other pressures,” Al Nuami said.

What happened

It remains unclear exactly why Al Nuami was banned from leaving Qatar.

But he said he was told a complaint was filed against him by an Omani businessman who alleged that he abused his attorney-client privilege.

However, Al Nuami argued that the man had been forced to file that complaint after being tortured by security officers over a conflict he had with a prominent Qatari.

That complaint was later rescinded, Al Nuami said.

News of the travel ban has already caught the eye of some human rights groups.

Amnesty International told Doha News that it was concerned to hear of the travel ban and is seeking further information.


Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar’s national carrier has said it will drop special screening of travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries to the US for now.

The move by Qatar Airways and several other airlines comes after a US judge halted a temporary travel ban on nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

In a statement yesterday, Qatar Airways said:

“As directed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), nationals of the seven affected countries listed below and all refugees seeking admission presenting a valid, unexpired U.S. visa or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) card (Green Card) will be permitted to travel to the United States and will be processed accordingly upon arrival.”

Previously, the airline said it would not allow travelers without certain visas to continue on their journeys.

Uncertain circumstances

More than 100,000 people have been affected by the new immigration restrictions in the two weeks since US President Donald Trump instituted the ban.

This has included students, professionals and refugees, among others.

The president said the temporary policy was for safety reasons, but many have criticized it for unfairly targeting Muslims.

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US President Donald Trump

Last week, Qatar’s own foreign minister urged the US to “do the right thing” and said a Muslim ban “is something we will stand against.”

However, the UAE’s foreign minister defended the ban a few days ago, calling it an “American sovereign decision.”

The Trump administration has appealed the judge’s ruling and it remains unclear what will happen next.