Qatar -Bahrain, Egypt, KSA & UAE relations

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Qatar withdraws measures established against UAE
Ban on buying and selling commodities exported by UAE have also been partially revoked
Published: April 27, 2019 12:07WAM

Doha skyline

Doha skyline.Image Credit: Pixabay

Qatar has decided to withdraw its measures against the UAE in a significant concession aimed at averting the consequences of the UAE’s case in WTO against an illegal Qatari ban on UAE goods and services.

During a session of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the WTO, on Friday to examine the UAE’s request to set up an arbitration committee to assess Qatari efforts to ban UAE consumer goods and services, Qatar announced that it had withdrawn the measures they established against the UAE. It also said that it has partially revoked measures that banned buying and selling commodities exported by the UAE.

The Qatari climb-down recognises that Doha's policies had violated its international obligations. However, the partial concession doesn't not resolve some of the fundamental issues of the dispute, and the UAE continues to explore its legal options to ensure that Qatar abides by its WTO obligations.

Abdullah Hamdan Al Naqbi, Director of the international law Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, stated that Qatar's confession of its previous violations one day before the UAE request was heard '' is a clear concession''. ''We continue to seek Qatar’s full withdrawal of these measures so as to ensure Doha's commitment to its WTO obligations and ensure our exports of goods has free access to Qatar markets'' he underscored.

He added, ''We see today that Qatar approach, which placed it on the defensive, did not count and think of the damage that will come back from this trend.''

https://gulfnews.com/uae/qatar-withdraws-measures-established-against-uae-1.1556352619917?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=GulfNews_NewsLetter_20190427_Evening_PM
 

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Qatar climbdown in WTO case involving ‘illegal’ ban on UAE goods



The UAE initiated WTO dispute-settlement proceedings against Qatar in January. (Reuters)

Arab News
April 27, 2019

  • UAE government said in January that it had initiated WTO dispute-settlement proceedings against Qatar
  • Qatar has now decided to partially withdraw its measures
LONDON: Qatar has backed down on measures relating to its “illegal” ban on UAE goods and services, the subject of a dispute lodged with the World Trade Organization, the Emirates’ state news agency WAM reported.

The UAE government said in January that it had initiated WTO dispute-settlement proceedings against Qatar, following a ban on goods imposed by Doha.

Qatar has now decided to partially withdraw its measures, in what WAM said was “a significant concession aimed at averting the consequences of the UAE’s case” lodged with the WTO.

The step was announced during a session of the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO on Friday, WAM reported on Saturday. Qatar has also partially revoked measures that banned buying and selling commodities exported by the UAE.

“The Qatari climbdown recognizes that Doha’s policies had violated its international obligations. However, the partial concession doesn’t … resolve some of the fundamental issues of the dispute, and the UAE continues to explore its legal options to ensure that Qatar abides by its WTO obligations,” WAM reported.

Abdullah Hamdan Al-Naqbi, director of the international law department at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Qatar’s confession of its previous violations marks “a clear concession.”

“We continue to seek Qatar’s full withdrawal of these measures so as to ensure Doha’s commitment to its WTO obligations and ensure our exports of goods has free access to Qatar markets,” he said.

Qatar’s approach had “placed it on the defensive,” with little recognition of the consequences of its actions, Al-Naqbi added.

The UAE is one of several Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, that have imposed a boycott on Qatar due to its alleged support of terror groups. Doha denies the charges.

 

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UAE Says it Released Qatari Military Boat
Monday, 6 May, 2019

Asharq Al-Awsat

The United Arab Emirates has released a Qatari military boat seized after entering Emirati waters on April 30, the UAE state news agency WAM said.

Four military personnel were on the Qatari boat -- two Qataris, a Palestinian and an Indian, WAM quoted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation as saying in a statement.

 

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Outrage over Qatari Statement Describing Egyptians as ‘Enemies’
06 May, 2019


People walk in Mall of Qatar in Doha, Qatar. Reuters file photo

Cairo - Abdel Fattah Faraj

Secretary General of Qatar National Tourism Council Akbar al-Baker’s comments on granting tourist visas to Egyptians have sparked outrage and widespread criticism in Egypt.

Egyptian political analysts and MPs demanded on Sunday an official apology from the Qatari government.

MP Mustafa Bakri denounced Baker's comments, in which he described Egypt as an “enemy state.”

“We disagree with the Qatari regime, but we don’t disagree with its brotherly people,” Bakri said on his official Twitter account.

“However, when the Secretary General of Qatar’s National Tourism Council describes Egyptians as enemies, this reveals the size of this regime’s hostility to all that is Arab.”

“They have supported terrorism to kill civilians and spread chaos in the region,” Bakri stressed.

Foreign workers make up 1.6 million of Qatar's 2.5 million population. Egyptians in Qatar are estimated at 350,000, making up the largest Arab minority in the Gulf country.

Since June 5, 2017, seven Arab countries have cut ties with Qatar - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen, Mauritania and the Comoros, accusing it of “supporting terrorism.”

“The Qatari official’s statement reflects an internal sense of hostility against Egypt,” MP Amr Sidqi, the head of the parliamentary Foreign Relations and Aviation Committee, told Asharq Al-Awsat.

He demanded an apology from the Qatari government “for the (shameful) statement against the Egyptian people.”

Mohammed Farouq, an official in the tourism industry, said the number of Egyptian tourists visiting Qatar annually amounts to “zero.”

He pointed out that Egyptians don’t make requests to visit Qatar, which in turn, has stopped issuing tourist visas for Egyptian nationals.

Qatar can’t be classified as a tourist country, Farouq noted, adding that it can’t even be compared to Egypt, UAE or Morocco.


 

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Qatar disowns tourism official’s comments on visas for ‘enemies’

Updated 07 May 2019
Reuters
May 05, 2019

  • Doha has distanced itself from comments made by Qatar tourism chief Akbar Al-Baker
  • Al-Baker caused outrage previously for claiming women could not do his job as CEO of Qatar Airways
DOHA: A Qatari tourism official said the country would not grant visas to those it considers “enemies” in reference to Egyptian nationals seeking to enter the country amid an ongoing dispute, a remark that was later disowned by the Qatari government.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar in 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the allegation.

While citizens from the three Gulf states were recalled to their home countries due to the rift, Egyptians, who make up the largest Arab minority in Qatar, have remained and comprise a sizable portion of the tiny but wealthy country’s workforce.

Speaking at an event to promote a summer tourism campaign, the tourism council’s Akbar Al-Baker said Qatar would not let Egyptians enter the country to take part in promotions aimed at boosting its tourism industry.

“The visa will not be open for our enemies — it will be open for our friends,” Baker said of Egyptians looking to come. “Are visas open for us to go there? No. So why should we open it for them? Everything is reciprocal.”

The comments were the first by a Qatari official since the nearly two-year rift began suggesting Qatar would no longer grant visas to people from Egypt, the most populous Arab country.

Qatar’s government communications office later said in a statement that Baker’s comments did not reflect the state’s official policy for issuing visas and that it welcomes “all people of the world.”

“Qatar’s position has always been clear that people should not be involved in disputes that arise between nations,” the statement said.

Many Egyptians say, however, that the visa process has been effectively closed to them since 2017, with narrow exceptions made for the immediate family members of residents and for specifically approved events.

Qatar has a population of around 2.7 million but just over 300,000 nationals, and does not publish statistics breaking down population by nationality. A 2017 report by a private consultancy estimated Egyptians at 200,000.

“When you open your arms to Qatar, Qatar will open its arms even bigger for you. But if you become an adversary of Qatar, then we will also treat you as an adversary,” Baker said.


 

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UAE Accuses Qatar of ‘Severely Aggravating’ Gulf Crisis
7 May, 2019


The International Criminal Court in The Hague. (AFP)

Asharq Al-Awsat

The International Criminal Court met in The Hague on Tuesday to look into the United Arab Emirates’ request to take a series of measures to protest its rights against Qatar’s manipulation of legal proceedings at international agencies.

The UAE asked the UN's top court on Tuesday to stop Qatar "severely aggravating" the two-year-old crisis that snapped ties between Doha and Gulf states.

"Qatar has continued to aggravate the dispute and make it more difficult to resolve," Hissa Abdulla Ahmed Al-Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the Netherlands.

She urged the court to take urgent measures to stop Qatar's alleged actions, warning of "irreparable harm" to the UAE's own legal rights otherwise.

Since June 2017, Qatar has faced an economic and diplomatic boycott by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt over its support and financing of terrorism.

The UAE said on Tuesday that Qatar had blocked its own citizens from accessing an Emirati website to ease travel issues.

Doha also used state media such as the Al Jazeera channel to "spread false accusations" about the case, including claims that a hotline for Qatari citizens did not work, the UAE said.

Emirati lawyers accused Qatar of using fake documents including some with a fake British royal seal to back its legal case.

The UAE also objects to Qatar taking the case separately to the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

In a sign tensions are still high, the United Arab Emirates said it released Monday a Qatari military ship that had violated UAE territorial waters last week.



 

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Bahrain Says Committed to Arab Quartet Stance from Qatar
09 May, 2019

Bahrain's King addresses senior state officials and diplomats. Bahrain News Agency

Manama - Asharq Al-Awsat

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has reaffirmed the Kingdom’s commitment to its long-standing positions with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt to safeguard the security and stability of the region.

He said Qatar should “stop the support and funding of terrorism and meet the conditions that have been announced and stipulated in the agreements reached in this framework.”

The King made his speech as he received senior state officials and diplomats at Al-Sakhir Palace on the occasion of Ramadan.

The Arab Quartet – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt – boycotted Qatar in June 2017 for backing terrorism.


 

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UAE seeks ICJ's order to stop Qatar from escalating crisis
Wam/Abu Dhabi
May 11, 2019


UAE also disproved the allegation that the it expelled Qatari citizens from the country.

UAE has told the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that the documents and arguments presented to the Court by Qatar against the UAE were either fabricated or outright counterfactual. The UAE requested the World Court to take punitive steps necessary to stop Qatar from its cynical attempts to manipulate the international forums for settling scores with its neighbours.

The submission made by the UAE at the conclusive session of the three-day ICJ hearing stressed that the Qataris whose rights to enter the UAE were allegedly violated had never used the hotline set up for the purpose in June 2017 or apply for entry permits. The UAE pointed out that similar fabrication of names and documents by Qatar happened in the case with Bahrain as well. The hearing on Thursday, May 9 took place to consider the UAE's request for interim action for protecting its sovereign rights and adjudicating its complaints against Qatar.

The UAE Ambassador to the Netherlands Dr Hessa Al Otaiba said in her conclusive remarks that the submission presented to the Court by the UAE's legal team showed beyond any shadow of doubt that the UAE had never indulged in racial discrimination as alleged by Qatar. She added that Qatar was continuously escalating the conflict and making resolution of the crisis even harder.

The UAE pointed out that Qatar was actually misusing the Agreement for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination with a view to defaming the UAE by lodging two separate cases on the same issue. The documents submitted by the UAE also confirmed that Qatar had used its vast media network to spread lies and falsehoods against the UAE about the issues brought to the Court's attention.

The UAE also disproved the allegation that it had expelled Qatari citizens from the country. Interestingly, Qatar admitted before the Court that it had blocked on grounds of security the website through which its citizens could apply for entry permits. This, the UAE asserted, was a ploy to cook up evidence against the UAE and claim it was defying the Court's decision.

Pointing out that the Court had taken some interim action while it considered the Qatari pleas, the UAE Ambassador said that the UAE expected the same from the Court in respect to the UAE's pleas.

"All that we are asking is for the Court to protect the UAE's rights on an equal footing. We request the Court to order Qatar to unblock our website for Qataris to apply for entry permits. Blocking the website is a typical Qatari ploy to prevent us from facilitating the visit of their citizens to the UAE and to create the impression that we were discriminating against them," she explained.



 

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How the 9/11 mastermind vanished from Qatar
Web Report
Filed on September 11, 2017



The US administration found that Khalid Sheikh was working in Qatar

The mastermind of the 9/11 attacks got sanctuary in Qatar, reveals Richard Clarke, the former US National Coordinator for Security and Counter-terrorism in the Clinton and Bush administrations, in an article in the New York Daily News.

"Most people associate the name of Osama Bin Laden with the mass murders of 9/11, but another man, a serial terrorist, was the real ringleader. I first learned his name, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (KSM), in 1993 as someone connected to the truck bomb attack on the World Trade Centre. We later learned that he had an unparalleled ability to organise large-scale terrorist attacks, something bin Laden lacked," Clarke wrote.

The mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad is a Pakistani who grew up in Kuwait and studied in North Carolina for his undergraduate degree, Al Arabiya reports.

After being involved in the New York attack, he resurfaced in Manila in 1995, and was behind another plot to bomb American planes over the Pacific.

The US security establishment and political leadership by 1996 "considered him the most dangerous individual terrorist at large."
Later the US administration found that Khalid Sheikh was working in Qatar in the Water Department as a matter of official cover.


Clarke says: "It is an understatement to say that before 9/11, the US military leadership was very reluctant to engage in counter-terrorism operations." Finally, the Clinton Administration decided to directly approach the Qataris in the case of Khalid Sheikh.

"To mitigate the risk inherent in that move, the US ambassador was asked to talk only to the Amir. He would ask the Amir to talk only to the head of the Qatari security service. The request was that they should grab KSM [Khalid Sheikh Muhammad] and hold him for a few hours until we could land an arrest team to fly him to the US," writes Clarke.

However, within hours the US envoy had met the Amir with the request, Khalid Sheikh had disappeared from Doha.


Clarke writes: "Khalid Sheikh went on to organise the 9/11 attacks, the Bali bombing in Indonesia, the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl, and other terrorist attacks."

Two years after 9/11, he was held in Pakistan by US agents accompanied by Pakistani officers, and is now lodged in Guantanamo military prison, Cuba.

"Had the Qataris handed him over to us as requested in 1996, the world might have been a very different place," writes Clarke.

 

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Things are not going back to normal. Qatar has pretty much done a lot of damage and with the current regime which is run by the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey NO WAY things are going to get any better. I personally expect Qatar to be expelled from GCC. I mean not expelled because Qatar is a founding member but KSA, the UAE, Bahrain and maybe maybe Kuwait are all going to establish a coordination council similar to the already established KSA UAE one however the current council is not going to be abolished. It will remain open and will keep on functioning normally but it will be limited to matters related to internal security, education, health care, jobs...etc.
 

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Qatar fails to make coherent case at International Court of Justice
Gargash accuses Doha of deliberately restricting free movement of Qataris
Published: May 09, 2019
Ramadan Kader

Dubai: Qatar has failed to present a coherent case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the Arab quartet’s boycott, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said Thursday.

“Pleading ended today at the ICJ and the Qatari legal team came up up with nothing new,” Gargash said in a tweet.
He added that Qatar’s contradictions undermined its legal position at the court and embarrassed its lawyers.

“Doha’s big dilemma is that it claims discrimination against its citizens only to become clear at the court that it is the one that blocks websites, which facilitate their movement, and deliberately restricts them,” the official added.

In June 2017, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt broke off diplomatic and transportation links with Qatar over its support for terrorist groups.
Qatar has repeatedly alleged that the boycott has infringed its citizens’ rights and filed legal complaints at international agencies.


 

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A bit off topic, but nonetheless mind boggling. Why now?

Qatari families stripped of citizenship deprived of key human rights, rights group says
Updated: May 12, 2019 12:55 PM

At least 28 members of the Ghufran tribe are continuing to call for their rights to be restored
A delegation from Al Ghufran Tribe, one of the biggest tribes in Qatar, staged a protest on in front of the United Nations in Geneva in September. WAM

A delegation from Al Ghufran Tribe, one of the biggest tribes in Qatar, staged a protest on in front of the United Nations in Geneva in September. WAM

Qatar’s decision to strip families from one of the country’s biggest tribes of their citizenship has left some members still stateless 20 years later and deprived of key human rights, Human Rights Watch said on Sunday.

Stateless members of the Ghufran clan are deprived of their rights to decent work, access to health care, education, marriage and starting a family, owning property, and freedom of movement.

The tribe has called on the international community to take a decisive stand against the ruling family of Qatar, who they claim violated a number of international conventions in stripping them of their citizenship.

Altogether, there are 28 stateless individuals in the four families. Four others interviewed, two of whom live in Qatar, said they became Saudi citizens 8 to 10 years after Qatar stripped them of their citizenship.

The Qatari government has asserted that those stripped of citizenship held a second nationality, for Saudi Arabia, presumably because a large faction of the Al-Murrah had long ago also settled in Saudi Arabia and gained Saudi citizenship. Dual citizenship is prohibited under Qatar’s nationality law, as in other Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

But several clan representatives told Human Rights Watch that they believe the action was a form of collective punishment related to the participation of some members in a failed 1996 coup against then-Emir Hamad Al Thani, who had deposed his father, Khalifa Al Thani, the year before. In a 2006 US State Department report, “diplomats pointed out that many other dual nationals in Qatar have not been affected.”


Qatar has restored citizenship to many of the thousands of Ghufran clan members whose citizenships they arbitrarily stripped starting in 1996, some families still have no clear path to restore their citizenship.

Without valid identity documents, they face restrictions opening bank accounts and acquiring drivers’ licenses and are at risk of arbitrary detention.
Those living in Qatar are also denied a range of government benefits afforded to Qatari citizens, including state jobs, food and energy subsidies, and free health care.

“Many stateless members of the Ghufran clan are still denied redress today,” Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said.
“The Qatari government should immediately end the suffering of those left stateless and give them and those who have since acquired other nationalities a clear path towards regaining their Qatari citizenship.”

The Ghufran clan is a branch of the semi-nomadic Al Murrahs, who span the Gulf region and are among the largest tribes in Qatar.

 

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Saudi Arabia activates new web link for Qatari Umrah applicants
Arab News
May 15, 2019

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has activated a new web link to handle requests from Qatari nationals wishing to perform the Umrah pilgrimage, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah set up the new link because access to the previous one was blocked by Qatari authorities, SPA said.

The new link is: https://qtumra.haj.gov.sa

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly stressed that Qatari nationals are welcome to undertake pilgrimages to the Kingdom, despite the diplomatic rift between the two countries.

The Kingdom, along with the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, in 2017 imposed a boycott on Qatar due to claims it supports terrorist groups. Doha denies the claims.

 

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Faqasi: Qatar Funneled Bin Laden’s Money
14 May, 2019


Ali al-Faqasi

Riyadh - Abdullah Al-Haida

Ali al-Faqasi, a controversial inmate serving a three-decade sentence in Saudi jails, had played a role in organizing the Riyadh compound bombing in May 2003. The ex-Qaeda member surrendered shortly after being named as one of the Kingdom’s most wanted terrorists.

Rumored to have been an associate of senior al-Qaeda leaders Saif al-Adel, Abu Mohammed al-Masri and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Faqasi was reported to have been al-Qaeda’s second in command in Saudi Arabia, prior to his June 26, 2003 surrender.

Faqasi, in an exclusive interview on furlough with Rotana Khalijia Liwan program's TV host, revealed how he served al-Qaeda at the peak of the terror group’s crimes.

Recalling how the September 11 attacks changed the nature of the terrorist group’s formation, Faqasi said: “We fled Afghanistan a few months ahead of the September 11 attacks - but the terror work remained open. Whoever can operate from anywhere, from Afghanistan to Syria, was asked to do so.”

“I returned to Saudi Arabia under the instructions of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who tasked me with forming a terror cell.”

As for al-Qaeda’s affiliation with Iran, Faqasi said that the group’s notorious Saif al-Adel leader operates from within the cleric-led country.

Faqasi went over the roles many countries played in allowing al-Qaeda personnel to achieve their goals.

Iran directly facilitated his transit to Pakistan, whilst Qatar acted as a secure funding channel for the group, he said. More so, the admitted ex-Qaeda member revealed that Qatar’s official propaganda outlet, Al Jazeera, often backed what the terror group was trying to achieve on a regional level.

“Osama Bin Laden’s goal was in line (with Al Jazeera), whereby both sought to destabilize the security of Arab countries, namely Saudi Arabia.”

Expressing his deepest regrets, Faqasi blames the group’s pundits selling him anti-state edicts.

Changed, Faqasi said: “I’m thankful for the revolution being led by our Crown Prince--we are living a real awakening. I am reassured that my son is protected and entrusted to the homeland.”

 

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Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt Urge Qatar to Stop Funding Terror Groups
15 May, 2019


A view shows buildings in Doha, Qatar, June 9, 2017. (Reuters)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt called on Qatar Wednesday to stop funding terrorist groups and respect the rights of migrant workers.

The three countries made the demand before the UN Human Rights Council's Review on Qatar.

In its speech to the Council, Saudi Arabia called on Qatar to take the necessary measures to stop its financing of the terrorist groups and to take the necessary measures not to give terrorist groups media platforms to spread fanatical ideas of terrorism.

The Kingdom also urged the removal of obstacles that hinder Qatari citizens and expatriates working in Qatar from performing the Hajj pilgrimage and Umrah.

Saudi Arabia expressed deep concern over the tragic humanitarian situation of hundreds of Qatari families of Al-Ghufran clan as the Qatari government withdrew citizenship from members of Al-Ghufran clan, confiscated their money and property and discriminated against them with forced displacement in addition to robbing them of their rights to return home.

For its part, Bahrain demanded that Qatar to take the necessary and immediate measures to remove barriers hindering access to justice for migrant workers, to apply the necessary standards to ensure their protection from abuse and exploitation, to punish offenders and to ensure that they receive their wages in a timely manner.

Manama appealed to Doha to implement reforms to develop the contractual system to improve labor recruitment procedures and to intensify efforts to prevent forced labor.

It also called on the Qatari authorities to fully implement the National Plan of Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and to ensure that victims reach justice.

Egypt urged Qatar to take steps and steps to sever all forms of communication with individuals, organizations and terrorist or extremist entities, and stop providing financial, financial or moral support to them.

It also called on Doha to stop providing various forms of support to media platforms that disseminate hate speech and justify violence or incitement to it, whether in Qatar or abroad.

It urged the Qatari authorities to end all arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances against a number of Qatari nationals, including members of the ruling family.

Egypt demanded that Qatar to commit to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and to adopt legislation to combat violence against women, including protection of migrant women, and to take immediate measures to end the arbitrary deprivation of citizenship of some Qatari citizens and to restore nationality to those arbitrarily deprived.

 
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