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 Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More