UAE denies easing Qatar ban, signs $5.5 billion arms deal
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UAE denies easing Qatar ban, signs $5.5 billion arms deal

A port circular that suggested the easing of trade embargo against Qatar had been “misinterpreted” and that a clarification will be sent to all ports soon, the UAE’s Federal Transport Authority (FTA) said in a statement. It came after media outlets reported that an Abu Dhabi ports circular dated February 12 had called off previous directives that banned cargoes of Qatar origin from UAE waters and ports and those of UAE origin from Qatar. The UAE has cut its relations with Qatar since June 2017 in response to a call by Saudi Arabia which accuses Qatar of supporting terrorism and financing extremism. Last year, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, along with Bahrain and Egypt, formed a so-called Quartet which urged the Qatari government to comply with a list of demands that included severing ties with Iran and closing a Turkish military base in Qatar or face sanctions. Doha, however, has rejected the demands and said it was being targeted because of the independent policies which it pursued.   In 2018, Qatar’s emir turned down an invitation by Riyadh to attend the 39th Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit, during which the issue of Qatar crisis was not brought up. However, reports suggest that a number of officers from Qatar’s armed forces, led by Brigadier General Khamis Mohamed Deblan, have arrived in Saudi Arabia to participate in a military drill. The Emirati forces are also attending the military exercise which will come to an end on March 14. Back in December, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani called the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council a “toothless” organization incapable of holding its members to account. "They have mechanisms in place and never trigger them because some countries believe they are non-binding,” he said. There is also disagreement between Qatar and the UAE over the Saudi-led war on Yemen. As the genocide of Yemeni people goes on, the UAE this week signed weapons deals worth $5.5 billion with local and international companies at the opening day of an arms fair in Abu Dhabi. The deals were awarded to firms from Russia, Turkey, Pakistan and South Africa at the exhibition. The UAE is Saudi Arabia’s main partner in its invasion of Yemen. Saudi Arabia launched the war in March 2015 to restore Yemen’s former Riyadh-backed officials. The World Health Organization says some 10,000 people have been killed since the coalition launched the war, but rights groups put the death toll at five times higher.

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