June 22nd, 2013
07:00 AM ET

Kerry, key allies in Qatar for talks on Syrian rebels' support

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Qatar early Saturday for meetings with his Western and Mideast counterparts who support Syrian rebels struggling to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

The diplomatic group, known as the London Eleven, is meeting in Doha to help shift the balance of power on the Syrian battlefield away from al-Assad and into the hands of his enemies.

But they are up against support for his government by Russia, China, Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Full story

Filed under: John Kerry • Qatar • Syria • Uncategorized • World Update
June 20th, 2013
03:43 AM ET

Parents of kids killed in fire demand answers

A year after a mall fire killed 19 people - mostly toddlers at an unlicensed child care center - Martin Weekes is no closer to understanding why his triplets perished.

"The phrase we tend to use is that we are deafened by silence - the silence in our house because we had a really busy house with three 2-year-olds," Weekes said. "Similarly, we have been deafened by the silence by the authorities in Qatar who just failed to communicate or show any interest."

Qatari officials have not responded to CNN's requests for comment on the fire at the Villaggio shopping mall in Doha, which killed 13 toddlers, four nursery staff and two firefighters. The owners of the child care center are Qatar's ambassador to Belgium and his wife.


Filed under: Qatar • World
Prince Charles: Arabic hard to learn
March 14th, 2013
07:39 AM ET

Prince Charles: Arabic hard to learn

Prince Charles is learning Arabic but said he's having a difficult time of it.

At a networking event Thursday in Qatar for alumni of UK universities, he complimented guests on their impeccable English.

Qatar's energy minister inquired if Charles spoke any Arabic.

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Filed under: Jordan • Middle East • Prince Charles • Qatar • United Kingdom • World • World Update
Emir of Qatar becomes first head of state to visit Gaza since blockade
October 23rd, 2012
12:21 PM ET

Emir of Qatar becomes first head of state to visit Gaza since blockade

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, visited Gaza Tuesday and became the first official head of state to visit since Egypt and Israel instituted a blockade in 2007.

Qatari aid to the Palestinians in Gaza will increase from $250 to $400 million per year, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya announced at a news conference in Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

May 28th, 2012
01:11 PM ET

Mall fire kills 19 in Doha, Qatar, official says

A fire swept through a shopping mall in Qatar's capital city, Doha, on Monday, killing 19 people, 13 of them children, a government official said.

The fatalities at the Villagio shopping mall included seven girls, six boys, four teachers and two members of the civil defense, said the minister of state for interior affairs, H.E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, in a posting on the ministry's Facebook page.

Another 17 people were injured, four of them children, he said. Most of the other injured are civil defense firefighters, he said.

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Filed under: Qatar
November 12th, 2011
04:13 PM ET

Bahrain arrests five suspects in alleged terror plot

Bahraini authorities discovered "a terror cell" and have arrested five people for allegedly planning attacks against government and diplomatic buildings as well as unidentified individuals, officials said Saturday.

The discovery of the alleged plot began when Qatari security authorities arrested four Bahrainis who entered Qatar from neighboring Saudi Arabia, said a Bahrain Ministry of Interior spokesman.

The suspects were carrying documents and a laptop "containing sensitive security information and details about some places and vital establishments in Bahrain, as well as airline bookings to Syria," the spokesman's statement said. The suspects were also carrying a "significant" amount of U.S. dollars and Iranian toman, the spokesman said.

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Filed under: Bahrain • Iran • Qatar • Saudi Arabia • Syria • Terrorism
Hezbollah stages coup drills in Beirut as indictments loom, newspapers say
A pro-Hezbollah cleric spray paints his family name on a banner in Sidon supporting caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
January 19th, 2011
11:16 AM ET

Hezbollah stages coup drills in Beirut as indictments loom, newspapers say

Militants fanned out across Beirut and reportedly staged coup drills as political unrest continued to percolate in the country, Lebanese and Israeli media outlets reported.

Operatives from Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite groups, gathered in groups of up to 30 at a dozen strategic points in the Lebanese capital Tuesday, The Jerusalem Post said.  Included were sea ports, the airport and entries to the city, the newspaper reported.

Though Ghaleb Abu Zeinab, a member of Hezbollah’s political bureau, told The Post he wasn’t aware of any such drills, parents pulled their children from school after seeing people dressed in black and carrying hand-held radios.

A mother of three picking up her children in the Hamra area of the capital said the school contacted her “because the security situation is not good,” The Daily Star in Beirut reported.

One gathering was about 400 yards from the Grand Serall, downtown Beirut’s government seat, forcing security officials to close the roads to the building, The Post said.  The men were unarmed and no trouble was reported, according to various media.

Sources told The Daily Star that the men appeared well-organized and were seen in west Beirut, downtown and in the southern suburb of Hadath.

The drill came as Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan sat down for talks with Lebanese politicians, including Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, aimed at heading off sectarian strife in the country, The Daily Star reported.


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Filed under: Barack Obama • Israel • Lebanon • Politics • Protest • Qatar • Saudi Arabia • Security • State Department • Syria • Turkey • United Nations
December 6th, 2010
03:04 PM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Julio Grondona

The Argentine Football Association president is at the center of widespread allegations of FIFA corruption after soccer’s governing body awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Grondona has emphatically denied the allegations, telling the Argentine new outlet Telam, “There has to be an end to playing with my good name,” according to ESPN.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, a former employee of Qatar’s bid team said that an adviser recommended the Qatar Football Association pay $78.4 million to help the Argentine Football Association cope with a financial crisis. The payment reportedly was meant to help Qatar’s relationship with Grondona, who is on FIFA’s executive committee, which determines host cities.

According to ESPN, Grondona questioned why the Argentine group would have a debt so large and further told Telam, “I am not going to give any credence to whatever people say. The fact is the AFA has a solid contract with the Argentine government, and it is all going quite well.”

This allegation, of course, is not the first involving corruption by FIFA officials. BBC’s "Panorama" aired an investigation last month in which “reporter Andrew Jennings exposes new evidence of bribery, and accuses some executives of taking kickbacks.”

You have only to Google “FIFA World Cup bribe” to find a slew of allegations.

It’s worth noting that no FIFA official has been charged with any wrongdoing, and though many commenters have angrily vented about their country not being selected, few such complaints seem to originate in Russia or Qatar.