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Emirati prince hiding in Qatar accuses UAE rulers of blackmail and corruption

Sheikh Rashid bin Hamad al-Sharqi (R) attends the launching of the Innovation Award in the Persian Gulf emirate of Fujairah on March 29, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

An Emirati prince has sought asylum in Qatar after fleeing his country over claims that his life was in danger because of a dispute with the UAE's rulers.

According to the New York Times on Sunday, Sheikh Rashid bin Hamad al-Sharqi, 31, is the second son of the emir of Fujairah and arrived in Doha on May 16.

Sheikh Rashid accuses Emirati leaders of blackmail and corruption, but does not seem to have evidence to support his claims.

Reports of the prince's defection to Qatar began to circulate in May.

He also noted that tensions were high among UAE rulers over the country's involvement in the war against Yemen and that the actual Emirati death toll was higher than announced.

“There have been more deaths from Fujairah than anywhere else,” he noted.

Last week, Amnesty International said the UAE and its allied local militia have been torturing captives at a network of clandestine prisons in southern Yemen.

Saudi Arabia and some of its vassal states, including the UAE, launched a brutal war against Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall its former regime, which had been an ally of Riyadh but had resigned and initially fled into exile.

The offensive initially consisted of a bombing campaign but was later coupled with a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces into Yemen. Neither the war nor the blockade has been mandated by the United Nations (UN).

The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement on March 25 that the war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured until then. The war and the accompanying blockade have also caused famine across Yemen.

“I am the first in a royal family going out of the UAE and telling everything about them,” Sheikh Rashid added.

The report comes as Qatar is in the midst of a Saudi-led diplomatic and trade boycott.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt all cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 last year, after officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism.”

The administration of Saudi-backed and resigned Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Libya, the Maldives, Djibouti, Senegal and the Comoros later joined the camp in ending diplomatic ties with Doha. Jordan downgraded its diplomatic relations as well.

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Qatar's Foreign Ministry later announced that the decision to cut diplomatic ties was unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.

On June 9, Qatar strongly dismissed allegations of supporting terrorism after the Saudi regime and its allies blacklisted dozens of individuals and entities purportedly associated with Doha.

On June 23, Saudi Arabia and its allies released a 13-point list of demands, including the closure of Al Jazeera television network and downgrade of relations with Iran, in return for the normalization of diplomatic relations with Doha.

The document containing the demands by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain also asked Qatar to sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement.

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