Browsing 'Dr. Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah' News

Qatar foreign minister Dr. Khalid Al Attiyah.

Ministerie van Buitenlands

Qatar foreign minister Dr. Khalid Al Attiyah.

Qatar’s foreign minister has said five Taliban detainees living in the country are abiding by their release conditions, even as questions emerge about what will happen to the former fighters when terms of the arrangement expire later this year.

The five men were released from an American prison in Guantanamo Bay and sent to Qatar last year in a prisoner swap that saw US soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive in Afghanistan for five years, returned to the states.

Late last week, US Senator Lindsey Graham – who recently visited Qatar – said the men may be looking to return to the battlefield and they had “reached out” to individuals fighting American forces in Afghanistan who had come to meet with them.

“The Taliban five are communicating with people inside Afghanistan,” Graham – a member of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, was quoted as saying.

It’s not clear if such communications would violate the terms of their release, which – beyond a requirement to remain in Qatar for one year – were never publicly disclosed. The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, previously reported that the other restrictions include a ban on fundraising and “military incitement.”

Regardless, Qatar’s foreign minister – Dr. Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah – called the recent media reports “totally false” early this week.

“They are living according to the agreement we signed with the United States,” he said, according to Reuters. American and Qatari security agencies “will monitor and pick up anything that will happen,” he said, adding, “I can assure you, no one has made an attempt to go back” to Afghanistan.

Prior to last week’s reports, it appeared as though the Taliban members in Qatar had kept a low profile since their release. In their first public statement last June, they vowed to stay “loyal” to the agreement with Qatar.

Taliban office in Doha.

Salman Siddiqui/Twitter

Taliban office in Doha.

Other members of the Taliban have lived in Qatar for several years. In 2013, the group opened a political office in Dafna that was reportedly intended to facilitate negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan government and the US.

But the headquarters closed less than a week later after drawing the ire of then-president Hamad Karzai in Kabul for raising a flag and installing a placard that named the building a representative of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” – the former name of the country when it was under Taliban rule.

It’s not clear what, if any, control Qatar places over the Taliban’s activity in the country in exchange for allowing it to maintain a presence.

The US, however, admits that there is “very little” that country’s military forces can do to prevent the men from returning to the battlefield later this year.

Thoughts?

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal

Trango/Wikicommons

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal

Breaking the country’s silence on media reports that Qatar had expelled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, Foreign Minister Dr. Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah has denied that the rumors are true.

Earlier this week, several publications including CNN reported that Meshaal, a Palestinian leader whose political party controls Gaza, was told to leave Doha, where he has lived for the past several years.

Qatar foreign minister Dr. Khalid Al Attiyah.

Ministerie van Buitenlands

Qatar foreign minister Dr. Khalid Al Attiyah.

But speaking at a press conference yesterday, Al Attiyah said “Meshaal is a dear guest of Qatar” who “is living in his country and among his relatives.”

He later added that “the Palestinian issue is at the heart of Qatar’s foreign policy principles.”

The reports came at a time when Qatar is under pressure from its fellow Gulf states to reduce support for political Islamic groups and mend its ties with Egypt, which has a tense relationship with Hamas and has previously blamed it for attacks in the Sinai region.

Pressure

Some analysts predicted Qatar’s efforts to repair its relations with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt would ultimately force it to ask Hamas to leave. But yesterday, Al Attiyah threw a wrench in that narrative.

Nevertheless, the Washington Post and London-based Asharq Al-Awsat both cited unnamed Hamas sources as saying the organization had been instructed to keep a lower profile in Qatar and avoid creating the impression that the country actively supports the Muslim Brotherhood, with is aligned with Hamas.

Gaza Solidarity Festival in Qatar.

Qatar Red Crescent

Gaza Solidarity Festival in Qatar.

Many see Qatar as one of the largest financial backers of Hamas, although Al Attiyah rejected that suggestion over the summer and argued the country supports the Palestinian people and not a specific faction.

Leaders of Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel, relocated their headquarters from Damascus to Doha in 2012 after siding with the forces fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

That same year, Qatar pledged $415 million to fund infrastructure development in the Gaza Strip, which is run by Hamas. More recently, Qatar helped fund the salaries of some 24,000 civil servants in Gaza.

Meanwhile, until a few months ago, Qatar was also home to several leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.

GCC

Wikimedia Commons

GCC

Several of its senior members announced they would be leaving Doha in September, although observers said the organization would continue to maintain a considerable presence in Qatar.

The move was seen by many as an effort by Qatar to resolve a dispute with neighboring Gulf states Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Both see the Muslim Brotherhood as a threat to their authority and withdrew their ambassadors from Doha last year in a move widely interpreted as a public rebuke for Qatar’s support of the organization.

Thoughts?