Former Qatari PM admits sending militants, weapons to Syria with US-Saudi help

Former Qatari PM admits sending militants, weapons to Syria with US-Saudi help

BEIRUT – The former Prime Minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, admitted during a recent interview that his country supported militants in Syria.

In addition to Qatar, the ex premier admitted that Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the US were all involved in providing supplies to militant groups attempting to overthrow the government of Bashar Al-Assad.

He specifically ruled out Qatari support for the Islamic State (IS) group, however, and said that any resources sent to rebel factions in Syria had US approval.

“Anything that went, went to Turkey and was coordinated with US forces,” he explained.

“All distribution was done through the US and the Turks and us and everyone else that was involved, the military people.”

The ex premier was taking a shot at Saudi Arabia for claiming that Qatar is a state sponsor of terrorism, something Doha rejects.

The recent rift between the former Gulf allies has created a regional dilemma that will likely continue for quite some time as neither party has taken the necessary steps for diplomatic rapprochement.

In June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain announced a string of sanctions against Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting Islamist extremists. Qatar denies the accusations.

The wealthy Gulf emirate is home to the al-Udeid air base, home to some 11,000 US soldiers and crucial in the fight against IS.

As part of the coalition’s operations, numerous air strikes against IS targets in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan have been conducted from al-Udeid, the largest US base in the region.

The foreign minister said al-Udeid had also suffered under the air blockade as well as the Saudi decision to seal off Qatar’s only land border – a move that prompted Iran, along with Turkey, to step in and provide much-needed food imports.