UAE Activist’s Wife Hiding In Britain Sparked Qatar Crisis

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Qatar’s foreign minister Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani claimed Qatar’s refusal to hand over the activist wife led to the Qatari-Gulf dispute.

A U.A.E. politician’s wife, who was hiding in the United Kingdom with her husband, is the reason for the Qatari diplomatic crisis that roiled the region last year, claims Qatar’s foreign minister Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani.

The U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain all cut ties with Qatar and accused the oil-rich nation of supporting terrorism. But al-Thani says it was all cooked up over one woman's passport application after she fled for her safety. 

According to the foreign minister, the Qatar-Gulf dispute began last year when Qatar refused to extradite the woman to the United Arab Emirates. The woman, married to an unnamed Emirates opposition leader, had six children. She fled to Qatar in 2013 when government opponents were being arrested in the U.A.E.

The husband then moved to the United Kingdom where he sought asylum and was granted indefinite leave to remain. Meanwhile, his wife stayed behind with her family in Qatar.

However, when she tried to renew her passport at the Emirati embassy in hopes of joining her husband in the United Kingdom, her application was refused and the authorities demanded she be handed over to U.A.E.

But Qatar refused to do so.

The U.A.E. then started attacking the Doha government on social media and said that it will only stop when the woman is handed over to them.

In 2017, when Qatar inquired why the U.A.E. was continuously attacking the country, they were once again given the same reason: to extradite the woman.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, sent envoys to the Emir of Qatar demanding she be sent back. However, this request was also turned down.

"Prince Tamim refused to extradite the woman because she was not wanted in a criminal offense, and this would be contrary to international law and the Qatari Constitution,” said al-Thani.

After two months, a Saudi-led alliance including the U.A.E., launched a diplomatic and transport blockade of Qatar, accusing it of getting cozy with Iran and supporting terrorism. Doha denies these allegations.

Following this situation, U.S. intelligence sources claimed the crisis sparked in June when the U.A.E. hacked the Qatar’s official website and planted incendiary quotes which were attributed to the emir, praising the quartet’s arch-enemy, Iran.

This week Doha said it was investigating the hack and discovered it was carried out by two of the blockading countries — but it would not name which ones.

Meanwhile, a family friend of the couple in question said they were terrified of the consequences they will have to face if forced to go back to U.A.E.

“If she had been handed over by Qatar she would have been tortured and held as a hostage until they handed her husband over. She would be sentenced to 10 years in jail and never see the sun again,” he said.

"They have committed no crime. He is a peaceful man, not a terrorist, otherwise he would not have been granted status to remain the U.K. All they did was ask for their freedom, to participate in society. They asked for very little."

Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Fadi Al-Asssad

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