Qatar says fighter jets deal shows deep U.S. support

UNTV News   •   June 16, 2017   •   2361

FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jet does a low-level flyby over Forward Operating Base Bostick in eastern Afghanistan January 1, 2009. REUTERS/Bob Strong/File photo

A $12 billion deal to buy Boeing F-15 (BA.N) U.S. fighter jets shows Qatar has deep-rooted support from Washington, a Qatari official said on Thursday, adding that its rift with some other Arab states had not hurt the U.S. relationship with Doha.

Qatar is facing a severe economic and diplomatic boycott by Saudi Arabia and its regional allies who cut ties last week, accusing it of funding terrorist groups, a charge Doha denies.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly echoed the accusations against Qatar, even as his Defense and State Departments have tried to remain neutral in the dispute among key allies. Qatar is home to the headquarters for U.S. air forces in the Middle East.

On Wednesday U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis signed the previously-approved warplane deal with Qatari Minister of State for Defense Affairs Khalid al-Attiyah. Qatar’s ambassador to the United States, Meshal Hamad al-Thani, posted a picture of the signing ceremony on Twitter.

“This is of course proof that U.S. institutions are with us but we have never doubted that,” a Qatari official in Doha said. “Our militaries are like brothers. America’s support for Qatar is deep-rooted and not easily influenced by political changes.”

A Qatari defense ministry source said the deal was for 36 jets. In November, under the administration of Barack Obama, the United States approved a possible sale of up to 72 F-15QA aircraft to Qatar for $21.1 billion. Boeing, the prime contractor on the sale, declined to comment.

A European diplomat in the Gulf said the timing of the deal appeared coincidental.

“Presumably the U.S. could have delayed the deal if they’d wanted to, although I don’t think there’s a great connect between sales and foreign policy.”

Qatar is an important base for the U.S. military carrying out operations against Islamic State militants and other groups in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and beyond. Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar is home to more than 11,000 U.S. and coalition troops.

Qatar’s state news agency said on Wednesday that two U.S. warships arrived at Hamad port in Qatar as part of a planned joint military exercise involving marine forces.

The Pentagon said the jets sale will increase security cooperation between the U.S. and Qatar and help them operate together. It added Mattis and Attiyah had also discussed the current state of operations against Islamic State and the importance of de-escalating tensions in the Gulf.

The fighter jet deal had been stalled amid concerns raised by Israel that equipment sent to Gulf states could fall into the wrong hands and be used against it, and by the Obama administration’s broader decision-making on military aid to the Gulf.

Trump, who took office in January, has accused Qatar of being a “high-level” sponsor of terrorism, potentially hindering the State Department’s efforts to help ease the worst diplomatic crisis between Gulf Arab states for years.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is expected in Kuwait on Thursday after completing a visit to Qatar, foreign ministry sources said, in his quest to help broker an end to the dispute. Kuwait has emerged as the main mediator in the crisis.

Turkey has backed Qatar in the crisis and President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said on Wednesday the rift was damaging the Islamic world and Ankara would do all it could by diplomatic channels to prevent any escalation. — By Tom Finn | DOHA

(Additional reporting by Rania El Gamal; writing by Sylvia Westall; editing by Peter Graff)

Philippines added to Qatar’s list of ‘special risk’ COVID-19 countries

Marje Pelayo   •   August 31, 2021

Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health has listed the Philippines among countries under the “special risk” category in the Arab state’s COVID-19 travel list.

The list was posted on Qatar’s official agency websites – the Ministry of Public Health of Qatar (MOPH) and its primary health care provider Hamad Medical Corporation.

The Philippines is among six countries which Qatar labeled with special risk in terms of threat of COVID-19 infection along with the following:

  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka

According to Qatar’s travel policy, travelers from these countries are required to follow additional rules:

– Those vaccinated/recovering from COVID-19 in the State of Qatar are subject to a two-day hotel quarantine and are allowed to leave the hotel on the second day if the result of the PCR test is negative.

– The rest of the people are subject to a hotel quarantine for a period of 10 days.​

Meanwhile, passengers coming from countries in other categories will have to pre-register in the State’s Ehteraz website (www.ehteraz.gov.qa) for other arrival requirements.

Generally, Qatar classifies COVID-19 risks into three levels – green, yellow and red.

The Arab state added a category for countries flagged as “Special Risk Six-Country Zone” which includes the Philippines.

“The Ministry of Public Health would like to remind everyone to follow the official website of the Ministry for details of the travel lists of Countries Based on Categorization of COVID-19 Risk,” the HMC reminded.

 

Afghanistan Crisis: OFWs escape to Dubai, Qatar with help from employers

Marje Pelayo   •   August 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Relatives of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Afghanistan confirmed with UNTV that their family members have reached Dubai safely after narrowly escaping the unrest in the Taliban-controlled country.

From Dubai, they are expected to return home to the Philippines soon.

On Tuesday (August 18), 35 Filipinos arrived in the Philippines from Afghanistan.

Based on records of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), there are around 130 Filipinos in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Joseph Glenn Gumpal, who acts as president of the Samahang Pilipino in Afghanistan, said 11 more Filipinos have already made it to Qatar with the help of their employers.

UNTV was able to get in touch with other stranded Filipinos in Afghanistan whose fates remain uncertain after a series of flight cancellations.

Among them is Rio Adrias, who confirmed that they are in constant communication with the Philippine Embassy in Pakistan which has jurisdiction over Filipinos in the Afghan country.

The only problem, Rio said, was that the chartered flight that they were supposed to board on Tuesday was canceled and they were told that they would need to take a commercial flight.

“Hindi pa rin po namin malaman kung kailan makakalapag ang eroplano dito sa Kabul kasi puno pa rin po ng tao ang Kabul airport. Hindi pa rin po lumilikas nasa 10,000 Afghan po ang naghihintay [na] doon na po natutulog,” she said.

Rio is one of the 24 Filipinos currently staying in a shelter some distance away from Kabul airport.

As for their personal needs, Rio said they still have enough supply for several days.

They also worry, however, for the safety of other Filipinos stranded in areas with no access to food and proper lodging.

“Sa pamilya ko, huwag kayong mag-alala ako’y nakakangiti pa pero ako’y naiiyak. Pero doon po sa gobyerno po natin sana po talaga una, matulungan nyo kaming mailikas talaga dito kaming lahat na gustong umuwi kasi talagang ang hirap,” Rio said asking for government support.

“Hindi safe. Hindi kami okay. Hindi namin ma-explain yung pakiramdam namin dito,” she added.

Rio said if she makes it back to the Philippines, she would never go back to Afghanistan.

All she asks for is a livelihood support from the Philippine government in recognition for their contribution to the country’s economy. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Qatar temporarily bans travelers from Philippines, 13 other countries amid COVID-19 spread

Robie de Guzman   •   March 9, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Travelers from the Philippines and 13 other nations are temporarily barred from entering Qatar amid the rapid spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) worldwide, its state communications office announced.

In a press statement issued Sunday, the Qatar government said the entry ban will take effect on March 9, Monday.

The ban covers China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria and Thailand.

The move affects all individuals intending to enter Qatar, including visas upon arrival, those with a residence or work permit, and temporary visitors.

 “This step comes in line with the State of Qatar’s efforts to take all necessary preventive measures to limit the spread of coronavirus,” the statement read.

“The State of Qatar urges all citizens and residents to avoid all but essential travel at this time,” it added.

Qatar Airways has already suspended flights to and from Italy.

Qatar’s communications office also said that these precautionary measures may be subject to further updates based on the latest guidance of the national health authorities and international organizations on the spread of coronavirus in order to ensure the safety of all residents of the state.

Qatar has recorded 15 cases of novel coronavirus.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines has climbed to 10 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported four more cases on Sunday. The new cases were announced a day after the DOH confirmed the virus’ local transmission in the country.

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