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Saudi Arabia, allies say may allow some Qataris to stay

11 June 2017 12:00


Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates say they may allow some Qatari nationals to stay in their countries as a deadline looms for Qataris to return home amid a diplomatic crisis.

The trio issued statements early on Sunday, urging mixed nationality families to call their respective interior ministries, which would take into consideration the “humanitarian circumstances.”

They also announced hotlines to help families with Qatari members, but did not elaborate on the details.

The three countries cut their diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing Doha of destabilizing the region with its support for terrorism. They also gave all Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave.

The UAE even barred the Qataris from catching connecting flights through its airports but the country said on Sunday it drew a distinction between Qatar’s government and its people.

The unprecedented move, spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, has led to large-scale travel disruptions.

Passengers of cancelled flights wait at the Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, June 6, 2017. (Photo by AP)

No expulsion of nationals from ‘hostile’ states: Qatar

Hours before the trio’s statements, the Qatari Interior Ministry said nationals of the countries that severed ties with Doha would have “complete freedom” to stay in the monarchy “in accordance with the laws and regulations adopted by the state.”

In a statement carried by state news agency QNA, the ministry said there was no change in policy toward the nationals of “brotherly and friendly countries which cut or reduced diplomatic relations following the malicious and hostile campaigns against Qatar.”

“The state of Qatar, in accordance to its firm beliefs and principles, works on avoiding political conflicts with states and governments when dealing with their people,” it added.

On Friday, Amnesty International criticized in a statement measures adopted against Qatar as sweeping and arbitrary, saying they had ripped apart families.

“Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are toying with the lives of thousands of [Persian] Gulf residents as part of their dispute with Qatar, splitting up families and destroying people’s livelihoods and education,” the human rights organization said.

The diplomatic crisis broke out last month after QNA released comments attributed to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani describing Iran as an “Islamic power,” criticizing US President Donald Trump and praising Hamas.

Qatar later said hackers had broken into the QNA website and published the fake news, but the denial apparently failed to convince the Saudi regime and Persian Gulf Arab allies.

Doha, which has long faced criticism from its neighbors over its support for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, says it is targeted by an orchestrated smear campaign over its independent foreign policy.

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