Gulf crisis: UAE to punish Qatar sympathisers with 15 year jail term

Marsha Scott
June 9, 2017

The skyline of Dubai pictured from the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world standing at 828 metres in May 2017.

One of the first signs of the crisis in which four Gulf states have cut ties with Qatar came in a phone call from an anxious government adviser to a Reuters journalist early on May 24.

Qatar is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a defense alliance between the Gulf states: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and UAE.

Several Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, cut ties with the tiny Gulf state on Monday over what they say is Qatar's support for terrorism, a claim Qatar vehemently denies.

US President Donald Trump praised the action against Qatar, but stressed the need for Gulf unity.

In a later official statement, Trump urged the Gulf to be "united for peace and security in the region".

Al Jazeera's Sinem Koseoglu, reporting from Istanbul, said the Turkish government and some opposition parties had expressed support for Qatar during the rift and had said its isolation is not acceptable.

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was supposed to visit Turkey on Wednesday at his own request to discuss bilateral and regional matters, Turkish foreign ministry sources said.

"Inclination or favoritism" towards Qatar by social media users in the UAE is punishable by three to 15 years in prison, alongside a minimum fine of 500,000 dirhams ($136,000), according to the Public Prosecutor's statement.

A series of flashpoints across the region in the days following Trump's visit heightened tensions that had been building for months and removed any hope among Qatar's neighbours of peeling it away from Iran and the Islamist groups it has engaged with for years.

Foreigners residing in Qatar and in possession of a Qatari residence visa would also not be eligible for visa on arrival in the UAE, Etihad spokesman said in an email. One possibility of the deepening of measures against Qatar could be the imposition of financial sanctions, the people said. But talks were underway to ensure supplies.

He said supplies would be brought in through Qatar Airways cargo flights.

On Tuesday, reports in the Saudi Press Agency said Saudi Arabia's general authority of civil aviation has cancelled all licences to Qatar Airways as well as its employees, and directed that all its offices in Saudi Arabia be closed within 48 hours. They alleged Qatar funds terror groups and has a worryingly close relationship with Iran, a nation with which it shares its vast offshore natural gas field.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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