‘Malign state’ Qatar condemned for collusion in Somalia terrorism

Nurses at the Medina hospital assist a civilian wounded in an explosion outside a hotel near the international airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, on July 22, 2019. (REUTERS/Feisal Omar)
Updated 24 July 2019

‘Malign state’ Qatar condemned for collusion in Somalia terrorism

  • Proof of link with Al-Shabab justifies Anti-Terror Quartet’s boycott of Doha, analyst tells Arab News

JEDDAH: Qatar was accused on Tuesday of being a “malign state” after evidence emerged that Doha colluded in Islamist militant attacks in Somalia targeting the assets of other Gulf states.

A phone conversation between Khalifa Kayed Al-Muhanadi, a Qatari businessman close to Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Hassan bin Hamza Hashem, the Qatari ambassador to Somalia, show’s Doha’s involvement in Al-Shabab terrorism in the Somali port of Bosaso, which is operated by the Dubai company DP World.

“The bombings and killings, we know who is behind them,” Al-Muhanadi says in a recording of the conversation leaked to The New York Times. “Our friends were behind the last bombings.” The attacks were “intended to make Dubai people run away from there,” he said. “Let them kick out the Emiratis, so they don’t renew the contracts with them and I will bring the contract here to Doha.”

The ambassador replies: “So that’s why they are having attacks there, to make them run away.”

Qatar will do whatever it can do to unleash and support the terror ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and all the other groups that stem from it.

Salman Al-Ansari Founder, SAPRAC

US President Donald Trump has accused Qatar in the past of financing terror. However, on a visit by Sheikh Tamim to the White House this month, Trump said the emir was a friend, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin thanked Qatar for combating terrorist financing.

The world may be surprised by Doha’s sponsorship of terrorist attacks but Qatar's neighbors are not, Salman Al-Ansari, founder of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, told Arab News.

It is why the Anti-Terror Quartet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have operated a diplomatic, trade and travel boycott of Qatar since June 2017, he said.

 “Qatar will do whatever it can do to unleash and support the terror ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and all the other groups that stem from it,” he said. “It exploits any instability in any country to support terrorist militias to advance its evil interests.

“This intelligence leak surely shows that the world is fed up with the two-faced Qatari policies. I expect more leaks against Qatar in the coming days.

“The world has the right to see the full picture and to name things by their names. Qatar is a malign state and needs to be confronted with nothing but decisiveness and strength.

“Doha has been trying its best to control the Horn of Africa through terrorist groups and to allow Iran to destabilize shipping lanes in the Red Sea.”
The official Qatari response to the leaked phone conversation indicated fear, Al-Ansari said, and the “Qatari businessman” was obviously a Qatari government intelligence officer.

“If it’s true that he doesn’t represent the government, then why did the Qatari ambassador hear the news about the success of a terror operation without objecting to it?

“The Qatari government think that they can continue to fool the world as they did before. What they don’t realize is that the time is different, and the past global tolerance of Qatar's terrorism is over, now and for ever.”


Turkish, Iranian media outlets exchange blows on Syria

A Syrian woman carrying a child walks by, in the Washukanni Camp for the internally displaced, near the predominantly Kurdish city of Hasakeh in northeastern Syria, on February 17, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 19 February 2020

Turkish, Iranian media outlets exchange blows on Syria

  • Middle East expert believes Ankara and Tehran are locked in an information war

ANKARA: Turkish and Iranian media outlets are battling as deeply rooted tensions have resurfaced. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency has published an opinion piece that critically discussed tensions with Iran over Syria. It said: “Turkey’s vision of regional development and integration is pitched against Iran’s regional strategy prioritising geopolitical wins.
“Ignoring Ankara’s concerns in the fight against terrorism during Operation Peace Spring, Tehran is now setting its Shiite militias in the field in motion against Turkey, who is actively endeavoring to prevent a humanitarian crisis.”
The analysis piece, titled “Idlib front, Iran’s weakening foreign operation capacity,” was penned by Hadi Khodabandeh Loui, a researcher at the Iran Research Center in Ankara.
Throughout Syria’s civil war, Turkey has backed rebels looking to oust Bashar Assad, while Iran has supported the Assad regime. However, the two countries are collaborating to reach a political solution to the conflict.
An editorial piece that was published in Iran’s hardline newspaper Entekhab compared Turkey’s military moves in Syria to Israel’s bombings of pro-Assad forces. The piece warned Ankara about a potential aggressive reaction from Tehran to both threats.
Israeli warplanes fired missiles at targets near Syria’s capital, Damascus, in early February and they hit Syrian Army and Iran-backed militia positions, reportedly killing 23 people.
Being among the guarantor states of the Astana peace process for Syria, aimed at ending the Syrian conflict, Turkey and Iran have already witnessed the fragility of their relations in October 2019 when Iran criticized Turkey’s moves to establish military posts inside Syria, emphasizing the need to respect the integrity of Syria.
Then, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quickly accused Iran of betraying the consensus between the two countries following Tehran’s condemnation of Turkey’s operation in northern Syria against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia.

BACKGROUND

Throughout Syria’s civil war, Turkey has backed rebels looking to oust Bashar Assad, while Iran has supported the Assad regime. However, the two countries are collaborating to reach a political solution to the conflict.

In March 2018, Iran’s Tehran Times defined Turkey’s cross-border military operation against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin as an “invasion.” It splashed with a headline that read: “Turkish troops occupy Syria’s Afrin.”
Over recent weeks, Ankara has voiced criticisms that the Assad regime, Iran-backed militia and Russia have violated the ceasefire in Syria’s rebel-held province of Idlib, with frequent attacks targeting Turkish troops.
Samuel Ramani, a Middle East analyst at the University of Oxford, thinks that Assad’s forces are winning decisively, and Turkey’s ability to resist them is greatly diminished.
“Assad’s forces have consolidated their control over west Aleppo, and are steadily advancing in Idlib. Turkey does not view the Iranian mediation offers in Syria as credible, especially as Iranian media outlets are justifying them by claiming that Turkey broke the terms of the Sochi agreement by harboring extremists. Turkey is insistent that Russia violated Sochi by supporting Assad’s offensive,” he told Arab News.
Regarding the media conflict, Ramani thinks that Turkey and Iran are locked in an information war over Syria, and are both trying to paint the other as an aggressor.
“It’s a way to rally public support in both countries around more confrontational posturing, in the event of a bigger military escalation that actually sees Turkish and Iranian forces in direct combat, not just Assad and Turkish proxies,” he said.