Qatari Foreign Minister Mohamed bin Abdel Rahman Al-Thani - Reuters
CAIRO – 12 October 2017: Ahead of the fourth and fifth rounds of UNESCO’S director-general vote taking place on Thursday and Friday respectively, Qatar has been lobbying to amass the highest number of votes; as the top two candidates in the fourth round would compete in the fifth to determine the winner.
On Thursday, the Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed bin Abdel Rahman Al-Thani appeared in UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris for the first time since the vote started. The reason might be that the Qatari candidate Hamad Abdul Aziz Al-Kawari had lost two votes in the third round on Wednesday.
Most probably, the Qatari minister was summoned to close more deals with some of the 58 member states of the UNESCO’s Executive Board, who are not still settled on which candidate to vote for.
According to confidential sources, Kawari received in his candidacy room, no. S375, in the organization’s headquarters the permanent delegate of Oman several times, as well as Sudan’s permanent delegate in a meeting that lasted for 30 minutes on Thursday.
What’s more, a diligent cooperation has been noted between the Qatari delegation and the Yemeni permanent delegate, although Yemen is not part of the Executive Board.
However, Yemen plays “hidden roles” in favor of Kawari in the organization, despite its earlier announcement of boycotting Qatar for supporting terrorism.
The United States announced on Thursday its withdrawal from the UNESCO, objecting to the politicization of the organization. The move’s timing is considered by sources in the UNESCO as a big maneuver by the U.S. to veer member states’ support to the Qatari candidate to fill the financial void left by the organization’s largest financer.
Sources revealed that there is an alternative scenario if the Qatari candidate could not amass the support of a big number of voters, which is lobbying to gain votes for the Lebanese candidate Vera Khouri, who is considered a conventional candidate among Arabs. This scenario explains why she refuses to withdraw, although she received only four votes in the third round.
The sources added that the United States and France have been attempting to force the withdrawal of Egypt and Africa’s candidate Ambassador Moushira Khattab before the fourth round on Thursday, so as to guarantee that the Qatari and French candidates would receive the highest number of votes and then compete on Friday.
Thereafter, the French candidate would win either through a deal with Doha or out of concerns by Executive Board member states on Kawari’s eligibility for the position as he is suspected to be anti-Semitic.
It is worthy to mention that Khattab would receive the support of all developing countries if she competes in the fifth round. Sources also said that France has been in contact with other European states to vote for its candidate.
On the third round held on Wednesday, each of the Qatari and French candidates got 18 votes, while Khattab got 13 votes, acquiring one additional vote.
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