Qatar Arming Libya Rebels in “Freedom Fight” While Denying Democracy at Home
Qatar ready to arm Libyan opposition: amir
Xinhua, April 15, 2011
Amir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said on Thursday that his country stands ready to provide arms to the Libyan opposition on request.
“If they will ask for weapons, we’re going to provide them,” the amir, who is on a visit to the United States, told CNN in an interview.
He confirmed that the opposition had raised a request, but “it will take some time” as the weapons offered need “a lot of training.”
When pressed to confirm reports that Qatar has provided French-made anti-tank weapons to the opposition, he replied that “it might be arrived to them during the last two days. It’s possible.”
Barack Obama: Qatar crucial to coalition’s success in Libya
Gulf state praised by US president as Doha confirms it is supplying weapons to Libyan rebels in bid to overthrow Gaddafi
Ian Black, Chris McGreal and Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian. April 15, 2011
President Barack Obama said the coalition acting to keep Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi from attacking his people would have been impossible without the support of the tiny Gulf Arab nation of Qatar.
“We would not have been able, I think, to shape the kind of broad-based international coalition that includes not only our Nato members but also includes Arab states, without the emir’s leadership,” Obama told reporters after a meeting in the Oval Office with Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. “He is motivated by a belief that the Libyan people should have the rights and freedoms of all people.”
Officials in Doha confirmed that the Gulf state is supplying anti-tank weapons to Libyan rebels in Benghazi as part of its strategy of working to overthrow the Gaddafi regime.
Qatar’s prime minister and foreign minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem, has said that UN resolutions on Libya permitted the supply of “defensive weapons” to opposition forces struggling to fight Libyan armour.
Qatari government officials were reluctant to talk about the delivery of French-made Milan missiles, thought to be by sea. “We need to send the Libyans equipment so they can defend themselves and get on with their lives,” a senior source said. “These are civilians who have had to become fighters because of the situation.”
The foreign secretary, William Hague, and his opposite numbers from the 21-nation Libya contact group endorsed Qatar’s position. Hague insisted the UK would supply only non-lethal equipment. France’s view is similar but both countries, which are leading Nato air strikes in Libya, accept that arming the rebels is legal.
Gaddafi’s government has repeatedly complained that the Qataris are supplying the rebels. Khaled Kayim, Libya’s deputy foreign minister, has claimed that about 20 Qatari specialists are already in Benghazi. The emir of Qatar is the only Arab leader to recognise the interim national council in Benghazi.
Benghazi’s revolutionary leadership has pleaded with other Arab countries and the west to provide weapons capable of destroying Gaddafi’s tanks and rocket launchers. But it has persistently avoided answering questions about deliveries, claiming the issue is a security matter.
Obama: ‘No big move toward democracy in Qatar’
David Jackson, USA Today, April 16, 2011
During the day Thursday, President Obama met with the emir of Qatar, praising his help in Libya and his leadership “when it comes to democracy in the Middle East.”
That night, Obama provided political donors in Chicago with a somewhat different view of the emir and Qatar.
“Pretty influential guy,” Obama said of Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, noting that he basically owns the Al Jazeera television network. “He is a big booster, big promoter of democracy all throughout the Middle East. Reform, reform, reform — you’re seeing it on Al Jazeera.”
But Obama: “Now, he himself is not reforming significantly. There’s no big move towards democracy in Qatar. But you know part of the reason is that the per capita income of Qatar is $145,000 a year. That will dampen a lot of conflict.”
Having banished the press pool from a q-and-a session with the donors, Obama did not realize he was still speaking on an open mike.