BEIRUT

Middle East

Libya’s former PM accuses Qatar of seeking too big a role

DUBAI: Libya’s former Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril accused Qatar of trying to play too big a role in his country’s affairs and supporting unnamed factions, in remarks broadcast Thursday.

The Gulf Arab state of Qatar, the world’s top exporter of liquefied gas exporter and home to the influential Al-Jazeera satellite channel, played a key role in an international alliance that helped bring down Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi in October after more than 40 years in power.

“Qatar has given a lot to the Libyan revolution at the beginning, and has truly played a role that cannot be forgotten,” Jibril, who resigned in October after Gaddafi’s capture and killing, said in an interview broadcast by the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television.

“But now I think that Qatar is trying to play a role that is bigger than its true potential,” he added.

A close U.S. ally, Qatar has tried to play a prominent role in regional conflicts, often mediating to resolve conflicts, including in Yemen and Sudan.

Earlier this year, Qatar played a main role in securing an Arab League decision that paved the way for a U.N. Security Council resolution to protect civilians in Libya after an uprising broke out there in March. Qatar planes and troops also took part in a NATO-led mission in Libya.

Libyan officials and Western diplomats have said they believe Qatar, one of the smallest countries in the Arab world, has been channeling funds and technical assistance to Islamist military commanders in Libya.

There was no immediate comment from Qatar on Jibril’s remarks, but the Gulf Arab state denies interference in other state’s affairs, saying it uses its resources and influence for the benefit of all Arabs.

Jibril accused Qatar of siding with factions he did not name in the conflict.

“The truth is that Qatar has what could be called the soft tools of money and media. But whether it is Qatar or any other country, all states when they reach the state of what political scientists call expansion beyond the capabilities, leads to breaking at the middle.”

He said that Qatar had always tried to play a role in regional conflicts, including in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region and in the Palestinian issue.

“The Qatari role in Libya, if it was a role that meets the interests of the Libyan people, then it is welcome. But when Qatar sides with a faction or with a group against the rest of the Libyan people, then this may not be in favor of the Libyan people,” Jibril said.

“Libya will not be affiliated to one or another country, be it Qatar or … the United States or France or Britain. We thank all those allies for their support for the Libyan people, but I do not think that the Libyans could accept external intervention or that any infringement on their sovereignty.” 

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 11, 2011, on page 8.

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