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Arabic press review: Saudi Arabia 'planned' to occupy Qatar, minister claims

Meanwhile, Algeria sentences activist for his role in toppling Bouteflika, $106bn smuggled out of Yemen during the war and 100,000 Jordanian restaurant staff out of work because of coronavirus
Years of civil war have led to billions of dollars being smuggled out of Yemen, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed has reported (AFP)

Saudi Arabia 'planned' to occupy Gulf neighbour  

Qatari Defence Minister Khalid al-Attiyah has claimed that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain had a two-phase plan to occupy Qatar. 

'There was a premeditated intention for an invasion, not just a siege'

- Qatari Defence Minister Khalid al-Attiyah

"Actually it was not a mere intention. There was a plan to invade Qatar," Attiyah told Qatar-backed Al-Jazeera Arabic news channel on Sunday.  

"This plan was set into two phases, imposing the siege with the aim of creating an overall state of panic, which would have a direct impact on the Qatari street, then executing a military invasion," the minister said. "There was a premeditated intention for an invasion, not just a siege. They wanted to implement the siege phase fully then to invade, things were clear to us … all the intelligence we had and all the available evidence undoubtedly confirmed the theory of an existing plan."

Since 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE have imposed a blockade on Qatar. The Saudi-led coalition said it launched the blockade against Doha in a bid to stem Qatar's alleged support of terrorism in the region - a charge that Qatar has denied.

Algeria sentences activist to three years in prison 

An Algerian court has sentenced a senior protest leader, who had helped organise protests against former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to three years in prison, according to the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper. 

The National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD), a prisoners' rights organisation in Algeria, said that 61 people were still behind bars for organising protests that had led to Bouteflika's removal. 

The CNLD described the three-year prison sentence against Ibrahim Lahlami as "unbelievable and unacceptable”. In a separate case, former lawmaker and activist Khaled Tazaghart was also sentenced to one year in prison. 

The protest movement started on 22 February 2019 after years of popular anger against Bouteflika, who was later forced to resign.

Weekly demonstrations calling for comprehensive political reform were interrupted in March due to restrictions related to combating the coronavirus pandemic.

Yemeni funds smuggled abroad estimated at $106bn

The war in Yemen has led to a rise in the smuggling of large sums of money out of the country, leading to significant losses to the Yemeni economy, London-based daily newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed has reported. 

'Money was smuggled through commercial companies and private investment companies operating in Dubai'

- Yemeni official source

Yemeni sources told the newspaper that "large funds have been smuggled from several governorates by former and current officials, traders and businessmen, in order to launder it through investments in many countries, such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey". 

Official estimates have said the amount of money smuggled from Yemen was approximately $106bn. 

The report added that much of the funds was smuggled through Emirati banks, most notably funds owned by former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and officials from his government, as his family and former associates settled in the UAE. 

Yemeni official sources told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that "money was smuggled through commercial companies and private investment companies operating in Dubai, which smuggled huge funds from Yemen, some of which were transferred to European countries and were liquidated by multiple companies". 

Coronavirus sees 100,000 restaurant workers laid off in Jordan

The president of the Jordan Association for Restaurants and Sweet Shop Owners, Omar Awad, said that at least 100,000 restaurant workers had been barred from working due to coronavirus-related restrictions, reported the Jordanian daily newspaper Al-Ghad. 

"4,500 restaurants, employing 100,000 workers, were closed due to government measures to face the coronavirus pandemic," Awad told Al-Ghad. 

Jordan has approximately 22,000 restaurants, which employ 350,000 workers. Awad explained that the closed restaurants relied on dining halls to serve dishes to customers, which meant that the food provided in those places was not sold directly to the public.

He pointed out that approximately 2,500 restaurants that depended on selling their products directly to dining rooms were struggling due to pandemic-related closures. Awad added that 15,000 restaurants that sold food directly and did not rely on dining halls had not been affected by the closure measures. 

* Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.