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Qatari minister, Algerian diplomat reportedly clash verbally in Cairo
BBC Monitoring Middle East
February 21, 2013

Saudi Arabia`s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal (R) gets help fixing his headscarf before the start of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Cairo February 6, 2013. Leaders of Islamic nations will press for a negotiated end to Syria`s civil war at a summit in Cairo starting on Wednesday that thrusts Egypt`s new Islamist president to centre stage amid political and economic turbulence. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

Text of report by R N headlined: “Belani says dispute between a Qatari minister and an Algerian ambassador groundless allegation,” published by privately-owned Algerian newspaper El Watan website on 21 February

Internet sites have been echoing a report in the last few days about an “altercation” between Nadir Larbaoui, Algerian ambassador in Cairo, and the Qatari minister of foreign affairs, Cheikh Hamad Bin-Jasim Al Thani.

The cause of the alleged “dispute” reportedly was the Algerian refusal to agree to a Qatari request to close down the Syrian diplomatic mission [in Algiers]. After a number of Algerian newspapers had relayed this information, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Amar Belani, yesterday denied it, saying that it is a “groundless allegation”.

In a statement to the Algerian news agency, APS, Belani affirmed: “Given that certain national daily newspapers have carried false information about an alleged altercation that reportedly happened between the Algerian ambassador in Cairo and the foreign minister of Qatar is groundless and was taken from certain Middle East websites whose credibility and intentions are suspect.”

The sites that have reported this information said that the altercation took place at a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo devoted to “the closing down of Syrian diplomatic missions in the Arab countries”.

These websites said that the Qatari minister had used an un-diplomatic language towards the Algerian ambassador who informed him about the refusal of Algeria to send the Syrian ambassador home, and accused him of “interference in the domestic affairs of a fraternal and friendly country”.

According to the Arab websites in question, Hamad Bin-Jasim Al Thani reportedly told Larbaoui: “Your turn will come”, in a tone of a threat of an uprising in Algeria. Larbaoui, always according to the same websites, reportedly replied: “You are at the head of the sabotage not only in Syria but also in the entire Arab world... [Paper`s ellipsis] You and the secretary-general of the Arab League are committing crimes against Syria and the Arab nation.”

Source: El Watan website, Algiers, in French 21 Feb 13

© 2013 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Algeria Rejects Qatar`s Bribe Offer to Close Syrian Embassy
FARS News Agency
February 19, 2013

Qatar has offered the Algerian government a 20-million-euro bribe in case it shuts down the Syrian Embassy in Algiers, the Syrian Dam Press news website reported on Tuesday.

The Algerian government has resolutely rejected Qatar`s offer, and reiterated its support for the Syrian government.

Certain Arab states, specially Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in line with western countries` policies are trying to destabilize Syria by supporting, arming and financing terrorist and armed opposition groups.

The Algerian government, however, has opposed any foreign interference in Syria, and called for constructive talks among different Syrian groups in a move to maintain the country`s sovereignty.

Last month, a Lebanese newspaper wrote that Qatari and Turkish officials in a recent meeting discussed a plot to prevent the nomination of incumbent President Bashar al-Assad in 2014 presidential election, including all-out efforts to topple the Syrian government before election, a Lebanese newspaper reported on Wednesday.

In a meeting with Qatari Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davoudoglu told Tamim that Bashar Assad should not have the opportunity to rule the country until 2014, al-Akhbar said.

The Lebanese daily reported that Davoudoglu has also underlined that Syria should go under financial sanctions in a bid to have the Syrian government weakened.

Turkey is among the countries that support militants inside Syria. Ankara provides military training for anti-Damascus militants along its borders with Syria.

The unrest in Syria began in March 2011.

The Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.

Militant groups, supported by certain western states and their regional allies, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been trying to topple the Syrian government for over 20 months.

Also Sources said last week that a large number of spying cells from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar are operating in Syria to help the armed rebels topple the Damascus government.

Informed sources told the Palestinian al-Manar weekly that Israeli, Saudi, Turkish and Qatari intelligence officers, backed by the US, have infiltrated into Syria via the Turkish borders, adding that each spying cell is comprised of 16 agents.

According to the sources, the main goal of the intelligence groups is gathering intelligence, specially in the form of footage and images, from Syria`s sensitive and important sites, the country`s military grid and power in particular.

The spying cells have also been provided with a list of Syria`s prominent scientists and experts in different fields to kidnap and assassinate them, the sources said, elaborating on the mission of the multinational espionage operations underway in Syria.

© 2013 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

© 2013 Fars News Agency. All Rights Reserved.

“Most” Arab League states agree to give Syria`s seat to opposition – website
BBC Monitoring Middle East
February 18, 2013

Report by Ahmad Rabi: “Sources: 3 Countries Refuse To Grant Syrian Opposition Seat in Arab League”

Arab diplomatic sources in Cairo have revealed to Bawwabat al-Sharq that most Arab countries are willing and have agreed to grant the “opposition” Syrian National Coalition the seat of Syria in the Arab League instead of the Al-Asad regime, which these countries consider has lost its legitimacy due to its ongoing crimes that have killed more than 70,000 persons, and after almost a year and a half since this membership was frozen.

The sources revealed today that there are only three Arab countries that have reservations about such a decision, while emphasizing that this is one of the important and strategic decisions that needs consensus or general agreement,” [quotation mark as received]. The sources said that both Lebanon and Iraq object to it, while Algeria has reservations.

Defected Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab discussed this request with the Arab League during his meeting with Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi and Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Muhammad Kamil Amr. Hijab discussed various aspects of the Syrian crisis and prospects for its resolution, as well as the opposition`s point of view, calling for the right of the Syrian National Coalition to have Syria`s seat in the Arab League.

Source: Al-Sharq website, Doha, in Arabic 16 Feb 13

© 2013 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Qatar seeks economic gains, Gulf states fear “Afghanization” in Mali – daily
BBC Monitoring Middle East
January 31, 2013

Report by Sarah al-Shimali: “In Mali, Search for Qatar! Gulf Fears of Its Afghanization; French Delegate Arrives in Riyadh on 26 January”

During the presence of French President Francois Hollande in Abu Dhabi last week, he heard talk from the Emirian leadership that made him very happy, as they had expressed their absolute support for the French campaign against the radical Islamist groups in Mali. This support was not deemed strange or ruled out, in view of the multiple Emirian stances that were never in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, especially those expressed by Dubai Police Chief Dahi Khalfan.

Gulf Fears

The French will ask again the GCC countries for this support, as well-informed sources have revealed to Elaph that a visit will be carried out by the special French envoy from the Elysee Palace to the Saudi capital Riyadh on 26 January, but did not reveal its reasons or the content of the letter the envoy is delivering from Hollande to the Saudi leadership. However, it is most likely that the discussions will revolve around the critical situation in Mali.

These sources also told Elaph that the GCC countries side with France in its war against terror, because they generally stand against all kinds of radicalism and threats to the security of any nation in the world. Nevertheless, the same sources pointed out that what is happening in North Africa raises serious concerns among the GCC leaders of the Afghanization of Mali and its transformation into another bleeding Islamic wound in the world. These concerns multiplied after terror hit Algeria with the hostage crisis that ended in a painful massacre, threatening to transfer the struggle to Africa, where resources and minerals are abundant from the far west of the African continent to its far east.

Which Trench?

Nevertheless, in the midst of any crisis, look for Qatar. After the wafting scent of the Qatari money that was put at the disposal of the Islamists in Tunisia and Egypt during the Jasmine Revolution and the revolution of 25 January, respectively; the public Qatari support for those who rebelled against slain Libyan leader Mu`ammar al-Qadhafi; and the Qatari Prime Minister Hamad Bin-Jasim`s undertaking of the unification of the Syrian opposition, here is Qatar - with its small surface area, vast oil and gas resources, and big ambitions of its rulers - floating on the surface of the conflict in Mali.

Observers are asking about which trench of North Africa the Qataris stand in. Do they support the Malian Government, just like the French, Americans, and West African nations, or are they providing this support to the Al-Qa`idah-linked Islamist groups that have their grip on the soul of Mali, especially, Al-Qa`idah in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb [AQILM], Ansar al-Din [Ansar Eddine], and the Tuaregs?

Last summer, Qatar had a strong presence on the Malian scene through humanitarian action, such as the announcement by the Qatar Red Crescent on the allocation of approximately 1.6m dollars for humanitarian aid in Mali to help the people in regions controlled by Islamist radicals. However, this presence was exposed, and even one of the French magazines cited the mayor of the Malian municipality of Gao as saying: “The French Government knows perfectly well who finances the terrorists and Islamists in northern Mali, such as Qatar, for instance.”

Newspaper reports cite experts as confirming that the Qataris sent groups of special forces to northern Mali to train some of the groups there, especially groups from Ansar al-Din, just as they sent similar groups to lead the anti-Al-Qadhafi in the battle for his overthrow.

Multifaceted Benefits

Until now, this story is just speculation, as there is no conclusive evidence of Qatari financing of Islamists in Mali. Rather, there is a humanitarian presence represented in the Qatari Red Crescent, which is assisting the distressed, based on a legitimate Islamic motive, nothing more.

However, French political analyst Mehdi Lazar is connecting the Qatari dots on the African map, from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Islamists of Tunisia, the mediation in the Darfur issue, to the active participation in the fight against Al-Qadhafi; and he is not convinced by the argument about Qatari humanitarian aid in Mali. He believes that proving the involvement of Bin-Jasim`s government in financing or training Malian Islamists will lead to results with dire consequences. Qatar`s involvement in this manner will give it some power in North Africa, but it will also put it at risk. Even if it chooses to be an intermediary of good intentions between the Malian authorities and the rebels, including the Tuaregs in the north and the Islamists in the south, Qatar is choosing to benefit from the chaotic situation in Mali.

Additionally, Qatar aspires to harness the benefit it is acquiring in three directions: first, reinforce its influence in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, just like it does in Syria; second, compete with Saudi Arabia in controlling the Sunni Islamic world; and third, strengthen the Sunni resistance against the Shi`i expansion, which is increasingly becoming stronger with the steadfastness of the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance and the rise of the Shi`i in Iraq.

Economic Anticipation

Economically, Qatar sees in Mali the next oil power that certainly needs someone to develop its infrastructure in terms of extracting and refining oil, a field that Qatar has mastered and an area in which it specializes.

Qatar is sowing its seeds in restless Mali from now, and it is strengthening its relations with the Malian Government and revolutionary Islamists groups simultaneously, while playing an intermediary role between the two sides in order to be on good terms with whatever state governs Malian territory, while controlling the gold and uranium mines and the oil.

Furthermore, Mali is an axis of penetration into West Africa where Qatar is consolidating its economic influence through the purchase of vast agricultural land rich with primary resources and the construction of mosques. However, the process of economic attraction is not limited to Qatar alone, as well-informed sources have told Elaph that China is preparing to enter the crisis in Mali in response to its ambitions in Africa, especially since the economic resources that China receives from the African continent assist it in its struggle with the United States.

It is worth mentioning that the Sino-African relations have been thriving for a long time, and the Chinese presence in Africa is not something new, unlike the Arabs who neglected the black continent out of ignorance of its many resources and strategic importance, something that the Qataris realized recently.

Source: Elaph website, London, in Arabic 24 Jan 13

© 2013 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.


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