News / Middle East

Libya Conflict Spotlights Qatar's Growing Influence

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague (r) talks with Qatar's Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani before the start of the first contact group meeting on Libya in Doha, Qatar, April 13, 2011
Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague (r) talks with Qatar's Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani before the start of the first contact group meeting on Libya in Doha, Qatar, April 13, 2011
Elizabeth Arrott

The small state of Qatar is playing a large role in the Libya conflict. In addition to hosting a conference Wednesday on the future of the North African country, Qatar has made its presence felt on the rebel side with military aid and morale boosting. Our correspondent has more from the defacto rebel capital Benghazi.

The expression of anti-government sentiment has flourished in eastern Libya, but perhaps few media outlets have such reach as the new Libya Channel.

The satellite service brings together news and voices from across the country to a people largely cut off from some of the most basic forms of communication.

Despite its apparently indigenous nature, few here are surprised that the drive - and money - behind the effort is Qatar.   

The Gulf state was the first Arab nation to recognize the rebel's Transitional National Council as Libya's legitimate government.  Doha is taking part in the enforcement of a no-fly zone and helping the rebels sell oil on the world market.  As for arms, anti-government forces simply shrug and smile when asked if Qatar is behind the new weapons seen at the rebel's front lines.

Benghazi businessman Najib Mohammed has nothing but praise and thanks for Qatar's role.

He credits the Qatari leader for helping prevent the deaths of what he guesses would have been thousands of people at the hands of government forces.

Standing outside rebel headquarters, his friend, Wahib Abd Samad, offers a possible motive of why Qatar, nearly alone among the Arab nations, has taken such a strong stand in the internal conflict.

"I have seen Qatar in many good positions," said Samad. "[It] likes to support the people, not the government.  Qatar is a nice emirate."

The government in Tripoli takes a different view. 

"Qatar is hardly a partner of any kind, it's more of an oil corporation than a true nation," said Moussa. "And the Emir of Qatar is an oppressive dictator who does not represent any liberal values," said spokesman Ibrahim Moussa.

But it is exactly Qatar's oil wealth, and the liberal idea of free speech, that have riled regional autocrats and given it far greater influence than its size would suggest.  The Doha-funded al Jazeera network has been accorded a key role in the anti-government protests sweeping North Africa and the Middle East.

And while leaders in Syria and Yemen crack down on their opposition, and Saudi Arabia sends tanks to help Bahrain do the same, Qatar appears intent on carving out a niche role.

Abdalla al Ashaal, a professor of politics at the American University in Cairo, says it can be seen in various places across the Arab world.

"They are playing a very constructive role with the rebels of Darfur in Sudan," said al Ashaal. "And now they are trying to help the rebels in Libya despite the fact that [Libyan leader Moammar] Gadhafi had no quarrel with the Qatari government before."

Al Ashaal calls its influence in Libya another card in Qatar's increasingly full hand.  

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid