World stands by Qatar as siege on 120th day
02 Oct 2017 - 3:51
By Irfan Bukhari / The Peninsula
After 120 days of unjust siege imposed on Qatar on June 5, the whole world stands by Qatar, diplomatically and politically, and the world nations are extending existing cooperation in various fields with Doha while the blockading countries are stuck in a diplomatic quagmire they created on the grounds of evidenceless allegations.
The 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, held last month, exposed the hollowness of siege countries’ diplomacy in relation to the blockade of Qatar.
Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani after successful visits to Turkey, Germany and France made a historic speech at the opening session of 72nd session of UNGA. As expected, the speech received wide-scale appreciation and endorsement across the globe.
During Emir’s visit to Germany, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed concern over siege while French President Emmanuel Macron called for lifting of blockade expressing serious concerns over human rights violations caused by the siege.
Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani also met with the President of the United States Donald Trump on the sidelines of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly. President Trump also expressed his hopes for quick resolution of the crisis. During the whole crisis starting 120 days ago, the world community stood by Qatar. The foreign ministers of the UK, Germany, Italy and Turkey have visited Qatar during the siege. Also, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Secretary of Defence James Mattis visited Doha.
The human rights violations committed by the blockading countries during siege will always remain a source of shame for Saudi-led quartet. Qatar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has recently confirmed that there are nearly 26,000 violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a result of the siege imposed by the four countries against the State of Qatar.
Two days ago, the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee, appointed by the British Parliament to investigate the violations of the siege imposed on the State of Qatar has called for an “immediate lifting of the siege”, terming it as illegal and violation of all international and humanitarian conventions and laws.
During siege, all appeals made by Qatar and global human rights organisations to not politicise Haj fell on deaf ears and Saudi authorities did not restore severed contacts with authorities concerned in Qatar to facilitate Qatari pilgrims.
During 120-day siege, Qatar has accomplished a remarkable achievement and that is the opening of Hamad Port. Hamad Port, with an annual capacity of 7.5 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU), is the materialization of Qatar’s plan to diversify its economy and achieve self-reliance.
After 120 days siege, normal life goes on in Qatar with no scarcity of food items. Rather, the siege has proved a blessing in disguise with Qatar ensuring speedy completion of its projects to ensure self-sufficiency.
Apart from imports from Turkey, Iran, India, Pakistan, UK, Georgia, Oman and other countries, many national products like Baladna, Dandy and Ghadeer are available in the local markets to serve the daily needs of the residents.
Hassad Food has announced the launch of ‘Iktefa’ initiative that aims to turn unproductive local farms into productive ones and increase production. Qatar is also building huge strategic food security facilities and warehouses at Hamad Port. Qatari owned Dar Al Rayan Investment Company has announced the first of its kind initiative that will revolutionise the poultry sector and boost local production of poultry products in the country.
New trade partnerships between Qatar and different countries of the world have been made in the last 120 days. According to recently released figures, Turkey has emerged as one of the top trading partners of Qatar after the blockade. Turkey’s export volume to Qatar surged by 84 percent during the June-August period this year, compared to the same period in 2016. Trade delegations from Pakistan, India, Iran, Turkey, Oman, Georgia and many other countries have visited Doha to start new partnerships.
According to a report appeared in “Times of Oman”, transactions between Oman and Qatar increased by 1,000 percent in a single month (August), and 2,000 percent over three months.
Last month, top Dutch and Qatari agro producer companies met to explore opportunities for extending bilateral cooperation in horticulture sector. The first edition of “MedFood 2017” exhibition was also held last month.
To facilitate smooth trade, Mwani and Milaha launched a number of new maritime lines between Hamad Port and different ports of Oman, Kuwait, Turkey, India, Pakistan, China, Malaysia, Greece etc. in the last three months.
By imposing illegal embargo on Qatar Airways, the siege countries wanted to hit it economically but after the passage of 120 days, QA is flying high in skies of success.
In June 2017, Qatar Airways reclaimed the number one position in 2017 Skytrax Awards. Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, has been recently elected Chairman of the Board of Governors (BoG) of prestigious global aviation industry body International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Among a number of initiatives and achievements, Qatar Airways has also recently announced an order for two Boeing 747-8 Freighters and four 777-300ERs, valued at $2.16 billion. Despite the ongoing blockade imposed on Qatar by three Gulf countries, the business at Hamad International Airport (HIA) is going as usual and HIA served 580,000 passengers and handled 3,300 aircraft movements in during the holiday period – June 19 to 25, 2017.
The total value of Qatar’s non-oil exports in August 2017 reached QR1.796 billion compared to QR1.328 billion in July, recording an increase of 35.2% and to QR1.493 billion in August 2016 recording an increase of 20.3%, according to the monthly report of Qatar Chamber on the foreign trade of the private sector.
Despite siege, Education Above All (EAA) Foundation and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) last month announced a new project to enable a further 95,000 children affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria to access quality education with co-financing by the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD). The work of metro is also progressing at a fast pace and first four trains of Doha Metro, out of a total 75, have arrived in Qatar from Japan.
Within the first hundred days of the ongoing blockade, over 250 companies started their operations in Qatar with a significant number of them shifting from the UAE, one of the blockading countries, said a top official of Qatar Chamber.
World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Human Capital Index has ranked Qatar as one of the best in the region. The Middle East and North Africa has an overall average score of 55.91. Qatar, with a score of 55, outperformed Saudi Arabia, the largest economy in the regi`on.
The blockade has also failed hitting Qatar’s resilient economy. After the IMF team’s week-long visit to Doha in August, Mohammed El Qorchi, an official of IMF, said that Qatar’s government had acted effectively in protecting the economy against sanctions imposed by other Arab countries
“The impact on banks’ balance sheets was mitigated by liquidity injections by the Qatar central bank and increased public sector deposits. These reactions reflected effective coordination and collaboration among key government agencies,” Mohammed El Qorchi said in a statement. Defying siege, all Qatar 2022 projects are being implemented as per master plan.