French academic says Qatari newspaper misrepresented his views on GCC

Dr. Stephane La Croix said his views on the GCC nations were "altered and misrepresented" in Qatari newspaper Al Sharq. (Supplied)
Updated 14 February 2018

French academic says Qatari newspaper misrepresented his views on GCC

LONDON: A leading French academic said that a widely circulated Qatari newspaper article in which he appeared to be taking sides against Saudi Arabia and the UAE was inaccurate.
Speaking exclusively with Arab News, Dr Stephane La Croix, a specialist on Islam and the Gulf countries, confirmed the alteration and misrepresentation of his views.
“There were many mistakes. They (Al Sharq) acknowledged them and published a more accurate version, and I don’t want to make further comment,” he said.
Dr. La Croix said that the newspaper has agreed to correct the story and rectify what it has previously published.
The widely circulated article first appeared on Feb. 13 and originally contained some inaccurate comments about Saudi-UAE relations and the role both countries played in the region. The interview reappeared on Tuesday with a new headline and an apology.
The newspaper claimed that the mistakes were of a technical nature, and related to the misuse of terminology with the newspaper’s translation of Dr. La Croix’s interview.
In a published statement, Orient XXI criticized the unprofessionalism displayed by Al Sharq and decided to publish its own translation of the interview it conducted with Dr. La Croix, this can be read in full here
Dr. La Croix teaches political science at Sciences Po, a leading university in Paris, and is the author of several books on the Middle East.
Qatar is in dispute with several Arab countries. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties last April and imposed a boycott because of Doha’s links with terrorism and its media’s incitement of extremism.
One such example happened last month when Qatar signed a security agreement with the NATO alliance.
Qatari media and its allies in the Middle East region exaggerated the deal but stopped short from claiming that Doha took a full role in the transatlantic alliance.

Turkey-backed fighters await ‘zero hour’ to attack Syria’s Manbij

Updated 38 min 54 sec ago

Turkey-backed fighters await ‘zero hour’ to attack Syria’s Manbij

  • The YPG fear the US withdrawal will open the way for a threatened Turkish attack into northern Syria
  • The YPG have also left Manbij but retain influence over the Kurdish-allied groups

JARABLUS, SYRIA: Opposition commander Adnan Abu Faisal and his army are encamped near the frontline in northern Syria, waiting to launch an offensive on his home city of Manbij.

But they are not the ones who will decide whether to march on the strategically important city, held for more than two years by Kurdish forces supported by the US.

The decision will depend on Turkey, the main backer of Abu Faisal’s group, and on how contacts evolve between Washington and Ankara over the US plans to withdraw forces from Syria, a move set to reshape a major theater of the war.

The US and Turkey are allies both in the NATO defense alliance and in the fight against Daesh, but Ankara sees the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces that helped the US-led coalition drive Daesh out of Manbij in 2016 as a security threat.

The YPG fear the US withdrawal will open the way for a threatened Turkish attack into northern Syria, including Manbij, but US President Donald Trump has warned Turkey of “economic devastation” if it goes ahead with the attack.

Abu Faisal’s fighters are awaiting orders near Jarablus, a town held by Turkey and its Syrian opposition allies about 35 km south of Manbij. The frontline in the area runs through open farmland where wheat and corn are usually grown.

“We are ready with our forces ... for ‘zero hour’ to begin any military action,” Abu Faisal, whose forces have more than 300 vehicles including pickup trucks and armored vehicles provided by Turkey, told Reuters.

“Preparations are going at full speed,” he said.

Abu Faisal, 36, was an army captain before Syria’s civil war began in 2011 but defected from the Syrian Army in 2012 to join the fight against Bashar Assad.

Abu Faisal helped wrest control of Manbij from the Syrian Army early in the conflict but fled when it was seized by Daesh in 2014 and has not set foot there since then.

The YPG have also left Manbij but retain influence over the Kurdish-allied groups that hold the city 30 km from the border with Turkey.

Manbij lies near the junction of three separate blocks of territory that form spheres of Russian, Turkish and, for now, US influence.

The US military pullout will not only leave Kurds exposed to possible confrontation with Turkey but will also open the way for the expansion of Russian and Iranian sway into the areas that US forces will be leaving.

The US military deployed into Syria as part of the fight against Daesh but officials later indicated wider objectives included containing Iran, Assad’s main regional ally. 

Late last month, the YPG called on Assad’s forces to protect Manbij from attack by Turkey. Syrian government forces, which are backed by Russia, answered the YPG appeal by deploying outside Manbij.

Abu Faisal’s fighters, backed by Turkish forces, made their own advance toward the city the same day but stopped short of an attack.