Egypt Current Affairs
Jailed Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, popularly known as Shawkan, will be awarded United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Press Freedom Prize for year 2018. He was arrested in August 2013 for covering deadly demonstration at Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square in Cairo (Egypt’s capital) between security forces and supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi. He is one of 700 defendants facing charges of killing police and vandalising property during the clashes.
UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize
The award was established in 1997 by United Nations’ cultural body UNESCO’s in honour of Colombian journalist Guillermo Cano Isaza. It honours person, organization or institution for their outstanding contribution to the defence and promotion of freedom of press anywhere in the world, especially achieved in face of danger. The award carries cash prize of $45000 and is funded by Colombia based Cano Foundation and Finland based Helsingin Sanomat Foundation. Guillermo Cano Isaza was a Colombian journalist who was assassinated on 17 December 1986 in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador in Bogota.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Libya and UAE have suspended their diplomatic ties with Qatar. All the six countries have announced that they would withdraw their diplomatic staff from Qatar and eject Qatar’s diplomats from their territories. They have also planned to cut air and sea traffic.
Saudi Arabia has accused Qatar for embracing various terrorist and sectarian groups that are aimed at destabilizing the region such as the Muslim Brotherhood, al—Qaida, the Islamic State group and other groups supported by Iran.
Egypt has accused Qatar for supporting terrorist groups and taking an antagonist approach towards Egypt.
Bahrain has accused Qatar of media incitement, support for armed terrorist activities and funding linked to Iranian groups for its decision.
The decision has been taken after Qatar alleged that hackers took over state—run news agency’s website and published fake comments from its ruling emir about Iran and Israel. It had angered the Gulf Arab countries who responded by blocking Qatari—based media including Al—Jazeera.
Qatar has long been accused by its Arab neighbours over its support of Islamists. Qatar’s support for the Sunni Islamist political group Muslim Brotherhood which has been outlawed by both Saudi Arabia and the UAE made Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in 2014 to recall their ambassadors from Qatar. Only after eight months, the ties were normalised after Qatar forced some Brotherhood members to leave the country.
On May 27, Qatar’s emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani had called Iranian President Hasan Rouhani to congratulate him on his re-election. This has also angered the Sunni Saudi Arabia which also sees Iran as its No. 1 enemy and a threat to regional stability.
Qatar also remains as a key financial patron of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. It has allowed the stay of exiled Hamas official Khaled Mashaal in its territories since 2012.
Oil prices have seen a jump after the six countries announced suspension of diplomatic ties with Qatar as it affected some of the world’s biggest oil and gas exporters. Qatar, a gas rich nation is also the biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and a major seller of condensate (a low-density liquid fuel) and refining product derived from natural gas.
Qatar will be host to 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Saudi Arabia has announced that it would seal its land border with Qatar cutting off the country from the rest of the Arabian Peninsula.
Qatar is home to a major US military base, a sprawling al-Udeid Air Base, which is home to the US military’s Central Command hosting 10,000 troops. How this decision would affect American military operations is yet to be seen.