Libyan rebels - Creative commons
CAIRO – 17June 2017: Since the eruption of civil war and the ascendance of militant terrorist groups in Libya , there have been several allegations against Qatar saying it supported these groups to hijack the authority in the North African country.
Many revolutionist leaders and figures in Libya were affiliated with terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda, before the fall of former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi. Those groups have had ties with Qatar; and some of their leaders used to be guests on Al-Jazeera channel funded by the Qatari state.
The Qatari Military and Financial Assistance of rebels against Gaddafi
As New York Times reported in 2011, Qatar supplied rebels with food and medical aids and marketed Libyan oil on their behalf. It also helped rebel groups launch a television station through a French satellite, in opposition to state TV.
The Libyan rebel groups turned out to be terrorist guerilla groups, whose members are mostly extremists and Islamists, having zero intention of enforcing democracy or peaceful circulation of power.
Since Qatar itself is an absolute monarchy having no room for democracy or freedom of speech, its support for different opposition groups in Arab countries, regardless of their tendency or nature, can hardly be interpreted as attempts of promoting democracy.
In an article titled “Qatar admits sending hundreds of troops to support Libya rebels,” written by The Guardian’s correspondent in Tripoli Ian Black in 2011, it is reported that Qatar admitted, in 2011, sending troops to assist rebels in Libya, in a conference held in Doha after the fall of Gaddafi.
The conference was attended by the leader of Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil.
Qatar also “delivered weapons and ammunition on a large scale – without any clear legal basis,” according to Black. Although Qatar said it only sent defensive weapons to rebels in Libya, such weapons also included Milan anti-tank missiles.
There had been occasional sightings of Qatari Special Forces in Libya since the eruption of war, Black stated. These forces participated in the final assault on Qaddafi’s Bab Al Azizeya coumpound in Tripoli in August 2011.
"We were among them and the numbers of Qataris on the ground were hundreds in every region. Training and communications had been in Qatari hands. Qatar … supervised the rebels' plans because they are civilians and did not have enough military experience," the Qatari chief-of-staff, Major-General Hamad bin Ali al-Atiya, had told AFP.
Qatar also reportedly gave infantry training to rebels in the western Nafusa Mountains and in eastern Libya and it brought them to Qatari territories for further preparation. That is in addition to granting $400 million to rebels.
Al Jazeera’s Role in Libya
Amid the eruption of the Arab Spring revolutions, Qatari owned Al Jazeera persisted in polishing the image of Al-Qaeda leaders in Libya, during the February 17 uprisings in 2011, by presenting them as revolutionist leaders. The main figures they supported were Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, who was fighting with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and is now the head of Al-Watan Party in Libya, and Ali al-Salabi, the head of the Rafallah el-Sahati militant group in Libya.
According to Al Arabiya.net, Belhaj was one of the founders of the Libyan Militant Group in the 1990s, and he later headed to Afghanistan. His real name is Abd-Allah el-Sadek, and he was arrested in Malaysia in 2004 and interrogated by the CIA before being deported to Libya in the same year.
Salabi is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and had been one of the Gadhafi regime’s opponents, before he built good relations with Seif el-Islam el-Gaddafi, whom he persuaded to release the incarcerated Libyan Militant Groups’ member. As Black reported, Salabi was in exile in Qatar for years.
Belhaj was first hosted by Al Jazeera on April 24, 2012 to clear himself of the terror accusations directed to him by American and British intelligence services, following his arrest in Bangkok. Al Jazeera hosted Belhaj again on January 17, 2017, as he claimed that the British government offered him financial compensation so he would not file a lawsuit against it, stating that he just wanted an apology.
Salabi was hosted on July 31, 2007 by Al Jazeera to explain the ‘Jurisprudence of Victory and Empowerment’ which would enable the establishment of an ‘Islamic state’ as part of an episode of a show called “Kol Youm” (Everyday), which has been broadcasted on Al Jazeera for years.
In 2011, Salabi made a statement to Al Jazeera.net, saying that “the little secular minority” is an enemy to Libyans’ religion, as the vast majority of Libyans are Muslim. The statement came in response to Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Gebril’s calls for reconstructing a national army and resolving armed militias.
Assassination of Former Army Chief
Abdel Razek al-Nazori, Libyan chief of army staff, accused Qatar of killing his predecessor, General Abdul Fatah Younes in statements reported by SkyNews.
‘Qatar has been supporting terrorist groups directly and publicly since 2014, the assassination of Younes on 2011 has to be part of its plan to control over the country using those groups,’ Nazori stated.
‘Qatar used the political situation in Libya for its favor. They hired terrorist groups, supported and armed them,’ Nazori added.
Assassination Attempt of Current National Army Leader:
Libya’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia has claimed Qatar supported terrorist and extremist groups inside Libya and provided extremists with funds in Tripoli, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist militias in Benghazi and Sirt.
Libyan Ambassador Abdel Baset Al-Badri revealed Qatar’s role in an assassination attempt against Libya’s General Commander Khalifa Haftar in a video published Friday on YouTube. “Qatar is responsible for the House of Representatives’ blast attempt in the city of Tobruk, near the border of Egypt, to impede the political accord,” Badri stated in a statement.
In June 2014, Haftar survived a suicide attack in which three of his guards were killed. Haftar was seen as “purging” Libya in the “Dignity Operation” against terrorist militias in Libya at the time.
Badri accused Doha of driving a wedge between Libyan parties by funding extremists and terrorist groups, most importantly the Brotherhood-affiliated Justice and Construction Party.
Libya Boycotts Qatar
Prime Minister of Libya’s transition government Abdullah al-Thinni decided to stop oil exports executed via Qatari-owned companies, accusing Qatar of funding terrorist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Libyan militias.
The Libyan government declared the stop of oil export via Glencore PLC in coordination with Libya's Armed Forces' General Command, in a press conference on June 14.