Friday, May 17, 2013

"Qatar’s emir, wants to be the Arab world’s Jihadist Nasser”

"The gas-rich state of Qatar has spent as much as $3bn over the past two years supporting the rebellion in Syria, far exceeding any other government, but is now being nudged aside by Saudi Arabia as the prime source of arms to rebels...,According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks arms transfers, Qatar has sent the most weapons deliveries to Syria, with more than 70 military cargo flights into neighbouring Turkey between April 2012 and March this year.For Qatar, owner of the world’s third-largest gas reserves, its intervention in Syria is part of an aggressive quest for global recognition and is merely the latest chapter in its attempt to establish itself as a major player in the region, following its backing of Libya’s rebels who overthrew Muammer Gaddafi in 2011.
But though its approach is driven more by pragmatism and opportunism, than ideology, Qatar has become entangled in the polarised politics of the region, setting off scathing criticism. “You can’t buy a revolution,” says an opposition businessman.
Qatar’s support for Islamist groups in the Arab world, which puts it at odds with its peers in the Gulf states, has fuelled rivalry with Saudi Arabia. Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Qatar’s ruling emir, “wants to be the Arab world’s Islamist (Gamal) Abdelnasser”, said an Arab politician, referring to Egypt’s fiery late president and devoted pan-Arab leader.
Qatar’s intervention is coming under mounting scrutiny. Regional rivals contend it is using its financial firepower simply to buy future influence and that it has ended up splintering Syria’s opposition. Against this backdrop Saudi Arabia, which until now has been a more deliberate backer of Syria’s rebels, has stepped up its involvement....
The relegation of Qatar to second place in providing weapons follows concern in the West and among other Arab states that weapons it supplies could fall into the hands of an al-Qaeda-linked group, Jabhat al-Nusrah.Diplomats also say the Qataris have had trouble securing a steady supply of arms, something the Saudis have been able to do via their more developed networks.
A supply route across Jordan’s border to southern Syria has opened up in recent months. The Jordanian government, which is terrified
of jihadis getting the upper hand in its neighbour, has been reluctantly allowing Saudi deliveries.
The west’s reluctance to intervene more forcefully in Syria has all but left Bashar al-Assad’s opponents reliant for support on Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey though since late last year, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan have joined the rebels’ backers as junior partners..."

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