Gulf crisis: UAE to punish Qatar sympathisers with 15 year jail term

Arab states could impose an embargo on Qatar if it does not change course regarding its support of "extremism" and "destructive policies" in the region, United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Wednesday.

Their "fingerprints are all over the place" in terror funding, Gargash said.

Gargash listed a number of terror groups he alleged Qatar had funded, including al-Qaida's branches in Syria and Somalia, militants in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and other group's with "al-Qaida-type organizations" in Libya. The countries are now blocking Qatar's access to their airspace and blocking its ships, isolating the small, energy-rich nation.

Pro-Qatar protests are also planned in Istanbul for Wednesday night.

American President Donald Trump took sides in the deep rift in the Arab world on Tuesday, praising the Middle East countries' actions against Qatar.

The UAE has avoided shutting down its natural gas pipeline with Qatar, despite closing air, sea and land links, due to its dependence on gas to generate electricity, according to reports.

Without naming Saudi Arabia, it said: "World public opinion, especially in Iran, sees the fact that this terrorist act was perpetrated soon after the meeting of the US President with the heads of one of the reactionary regional states that has always supported. terrorists as to be very meaningful". Qatar has denied the charges.

"The decisions that were made were very strong and will have a fairly large cost on Qatar and we do not believe that Qataris want to sustain those costs".

Soccer's world governing body Federation Internationale de Football Association also has said it remains in regular contact with Qatar, which will host the 2022 World Cup.

Opposing the UAE's new policies against Qatar, which Al Shamsi said were taken for the country's interests and national security, could be punished by up to 15 years in jail, Emirati Arabic news website Albayan reported.

While liberal compared to much of the Middle East, the UAE has tough cybercrime and slander laws under which people can be arrested, imprisoned and deported for taking photographs without the consent of those shown.

A senior United Arab Emirates official Thursday accused Qatar of escalating a row with its Arab neighbors by seeking help from Turkey and Iran in the dispute, as Doha took a defiant tone toward its new pariah status.

This is the reason why Saudi Arabia and UAE pledged $12 billion aid to Egypt when military strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Mohammed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president of the Muslim Brotherhood.

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