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Friday, August 26, 2011

Libya’s Revolution: Made In Qatar?

Qatar is the small Arab Gulf Emirate that's been playing an outsize role in the democratic rebellions across the Middle East, from Yemen to Libya.

Qatar is the small Arab Gulf Emirate that's been playing an outsize role in the democratic rebellions across the Middle East, from Yemen to Libya. (Bing.com)

“Qatar rescued us,” is what one of the heads of the Libyan opposition said this week when asked how the rebels have financed their fight again the Gadhafi regime.

Qatar is the tiny Arab emirate that’s been playing a major role in the democratic rebellions across the Middle East.

It’s only about a third bigger than Delaware and has only around 2 million people.

But it’s proving more critical in the region, in many ways, than its heavyweight neighbors like Saudi Arabia.

Qatar has openly helped the Libyan rebels, and it’s helped mediate disputes in Yemen and Lebanon.

Qatar also owns the increasingly influential Arab news channel Al Jazeera, which is housed in Qatar’s capital city of Doha.

And it is home to key U.S. military bases — including the US Forward Command in charge of the war in Iraq.

Veteran Middle East observer Lawrence Pintak told Here and Now‘s Sacha Pfeiffer that “anywhere you look in the Arab world today, there is a Qatari foothold.”

Some have called it the “Doha effect.”

Pintak says recent events have left traditional Arab powers like Saudi Arabia “with egg on their face,” while there is a growing image in the region that “all roads lead to Doha,” the Qatari capital.


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  • AvidListner

    What about the protests in Qatar? The treatment of minorities? The fact that it too is a monarchy?

    • Tom

      Sorry but there weren’t any protests in Qatar, not a single one…

      (Live there…)

    • Oi

      There was no one protest happened in Qatar. Proud to be Qatari <3

  • Mohd

    Which protests you are talking about Mr Avidlistenr? and which minority you r talking about ?
    have you ever been in Qatar? with due all respects first come to Qatar then comments. the citizin happy living good no tax education free . please research before you comment.

  • Anonymous

    The influence of Qatar was obvious to anyone watching (Qatar-based and -funded) Al Jazeera during the early days of the Libyan uprising. Al Jazeera’s coverage of Libya was relentless. In addition to covering the rebellion and the repression within Libya itself, Al Jazeera was constantly reporting on the calls for international intervention — indeed, Al Jazeera created the impression that such intervention was inevitable,  constituting nothing short of an ethical imperative. But at the very same time, there were massive nonviolent protests in Bahrain, which were being repressed with live gunfire, massive imprisonment, and the destruction of Shi’i mosques. Al Jazeera did cover this, but barely. There seemed to be 10x more coverage of Libya than Bahrain.  Then when international intervention began in Libya, on the side of the rebels, this too received massive coverage on Al Jazeera. And meanwhile, Qatar and Saudi Arabia intervened in Bahrain, on the side of the regime! The intervention of Gulf states into Bahrain was reported in a very matter-of-fact style on Al Jazeera, with no details and no analysis. Al Jazeera — and now, the world’s attention — was on Libya. Not Bahrain, where Qatar and Saudi Arabia were busy repressing the populace to prop up the monarchy. And not Yemen either, where the USA — using special forces and armed drones –  was escalating its repression of South Yemen protest movements which had led become a a massive, nationwide, and largely nonviolent revolutionary movement. In August 2011, the Libyan rebels appear to have won. But at what cost to the people of Bahrain, or Yemen? And, we might ask, to what end?

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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