Libya, Yemen Seek Role in Ending Snowballing Jordan-Qatar Row

Published June 16th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Yemen and Libya have intervened to hammer out a solution to a spiraling conflict between Jordan and Qatar over a deported Hamas leader who flew to Amman on Thursday, but was denied entry.  

According to reports, Libya has offered to send an aircraft to take the Hamas spokesman, Ibrahim Goshe, back to Qatar, after the captain of the Qatari flight refused do so “against [Goshe's] will.” 

Al Jazeera satellite channel reported that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh had called the Qatari emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, in an attempt to defuse the dispute. 

AFP reported that Jordanian authorities had demanded that Qatar Airways suspend all flights to Jordan after the carrier flew Ghoshe into Amman, the company's director general said late Friday. 

"The Jordanian Civil Aviation Authority has asked Qatar Airways to suspend all scheduled flights from Doha to Amman this season," Akhbar Al Baker told AFP. 

He said Jordanian officials claimed the carrier had "violated our air service agreement by bringing an illegal immigrant to Amman," referring to Ghoshe, who was expelled from Jordan in 1999. 

The director general called Amman's decision "laughable,” adding that the airline did not consider Ghoshe to be an illegal immigrant. 

Qatar Airways protested Friday after Jordan impounded the plane carrying Ghoshe, arguing it was incurring huge financial losses due to the aircraft being held in Amman. 

"The holding of the plane by the Jordanian authorities is causing the company huge material losses," the official QNA agency quoted a Qatar Airways official as saying, adding that the incident was "unprecedented." 

Jordanian airport officials told AFP Friday that the Qatari aircraft that flew Ghoshe from Doha on Thursday was still grounded at Queen Alia Airport. They refused to give more details. 

After Ghoshe was denied entry, airport officials asked the pilot to return him to Doha, the destination to which he and three other Hamas leaders were deported in November 1999. 

Jordan's Thursday decision to block the attempted return to Amman of the exiled spokesman triggering a harsh Qatari official response. 

"Airport officials were surprised today to see Ibrahim Ghoshe arrive on board a flight from Doha and told him he could not enter the country in line with an agreement previously reached with the authorities," a source told Jordan’s news agency Petra. 

Al Jazeera quoted a Qatari Foreign Ministry official as voicing his country’s “astonishment” at Jordan’s allegations that the banished Islamist had been sent back at the instructions of Qatari authorities. 

The source said the plane's pilot informed the Jordanian authorities that he had "strict instructions from the Qatari government not to return Ghoshe to Qatar." But the pilot denied the report, according to the station. 

Ghoshe and three other senior Hamas officials, all Jordanian citizens, were deported to Qatar in November 1999 after being held for three months on charges of belonging to an illegal group and threatening Jordan's security.  

Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, cracked down on Hamas in August 1999, closing its offices in Amman and arresting the leaders and two dozen members. The members were later released.  

Meanwhile, the head of Hamas’ politburo, Khaled Mishaal, told Al Jazeera that the group had known of Ghoshe’s plan and approved it. He also denied that the Qatari government had anything to do with the spokesman’s attempted return to Jordan. 

Mishaal had told the Qatari paper Al Raya on Wednesday that all mediation efforts aimed at securing his and his colleagues’ return to Amman had failed, but vowed they would return “despite the Jordanian authorities’ rejection.” 

Mishaal did not specify a date for his return, but said that the chances for his colleagues Ghoshe, Izzat Rishiq and Sami Khater to return were stronger than his. 

The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood slammed the government for “violating the constitution” by barring a citizen from entering his country – Albawaba.com 

© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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