Since the Taliban takeover, Qatar has played a major diplomatic role in Afghanistan.
A document that was leaked online in an apparent bid to discredit Qatar’s diplomatic role in Afghanistan was forged, analysts said on Friday, forcing some western media outlets to pull earlier reports.
The fake documents claimed Qatar paid some $110 million to Afghanistan’s former president to allegedly persuade him to avoid resisting the Taliban in the lead up to the group’s takeover of Kabul.
The leaks were first posted by Italian TG1 News Network and later picked up by The Khaama Press before spreading to other outlets in Europe and the US. The reports alleged two separate payments were made to senior military officers in the Afghan government just one month ahead of the 2021 capture of the country.
However, Afghan experts have since debunked the documents, prompting various western media outlets to pull their reports.
Obaidulla Baheer, an Afghan lecturer at AU Afghanistan and expert on the country’s affairs said the documents do not back the claims made in the reports.
“At no point in the report is a link established between the money and the horrible military strategy that led to the fall,” Baheer said in a Twitter thread.
“Those familiar with Qatari official documents would tell you that the format & font of the document are incorrect. It is missing its barcode as well. This just shows you how easily stories are manufactured to conveniently confirm biases & have media outlets blast those lies,” he noted.
“Also, it is highly unlikely that Qatari officials would give receipts for payments or do it in local languages,” he added.
Addressing the leaked documents, political analyst and associate professor at King’s College London – School of Security Studies, Dr. Andreas Krieg suggested such disinformation could have been strategically planted.
“It looks like Qatar’s competitors over Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi have deliberately leaked disinfo to discredit Doha’s Afghan strategy,” he tweeted.
“Meanwhile, the UAE are engaging and courting both the Taliban and the old networks around the Ghani regime simultaneously,” Dr Krieg added.
Similarly, political analyst and Afghanistan expert Tamim Asey also weighed in on the incident online.
“Several sources now confirmed to me that these are indeed FORGED and PLANTED documents and is apart of a DISINFO campaign,” said, warning journalists and social media users to not “fall prey to it”.
“Talk to professionals and cross-check. Thank you,” he concluded in a tweet.
As the Taliban swooped in on the capital city, Qatar quickly mobilised in Kabul to help evacuate around 80,000 foreigners and Afghans fleeing the country in an operation that lasted several months.
Since the Taliban takeover, Qatar has played a major diplomatic role in Afghanistan, serving as a bridge between the group and the rest of the world in a bid to push for stability in the war-torn country.
Such a role has spotlighted the Gulf state as a major political player on the global stage, with leaders from around the world praising Qatar for safely evacuating civilians and opting to push for dialogue at a time of heightened sensitivity.
However, the praise has come with mass attacks to stem Qatar’s rapid rise on the political front, with experts pointing towards increasing disinformation campaigns from the UAE.
At the end of last year, numerous reports indicated there is likely a “little hand” in the scandal permeating the relationship between Qatar and the EU, pointing towards the United Arab Emirates amid the ongoing EU corruption scandal.
According to Dagospia, it is Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the de facto head of the Abu Dhabi intelligence services, who spilled everything to Belgium, triggering the avalanche that is engulfing the European Parliament.
Sheikh Tahnoon, known as TbZ, has been leading agents of Abu Dhabi globally alongside his brother, UAE’s third President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
According to NY Weekly, “The reporting [of Dagospia] makes sense,” due the multiple times Abu Dhabi has lead various operations against Qatar, including the UAE’s lobbying attempts at DC and the targeted media offensive on the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In November, a classified report compiled by US Intelligence, stipulated that the UAE exerted ‘extensive efforts’ in ‘manipulating the American political system’.
Since 2016, the UAE has reportedly spent more than $154 million on US-based lobbyists, according to Justice Department records, and millions of dollars in funds and donations to American think tanks and universities, many that produce policy papers with findings favourable to UAE interests.
As per an Intelligence Online report linked to the same case, important evidence included previously unreported 2022 court filings that show various UAE-funded individuals fighting fiercely to quash a subpoena that would require them to turn over all communications and documents relating to a secret collusion in anti-Qatar PR campaigns, and to disclose payments received and from whom.
Numerous other investigations have found mass disinformation spread by bots on social media have also been linked to the UAE.