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

Official: S. Sudan President, Rebel Leader to Meet in Tanzania

Talks part of effort to end conflict in country that has left more than 10,000 people dead, displaced more than 1.5 million others More

Dutch Deny Link to Mystery Submarine Off Sweden

Netherlands denies Russian claim that 'foreign vessel' photographed in waters off Sweden could be Dutch More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles 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.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid