Qatar emir denies funding Syria extremists
DOHA // The emir of Qatar has denied accusations that his country funds extremist groups in Syria, while stressing the Gulf state’s commitment to the US-led campaign against ISIL.
“We don’t fund extremists,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said in an interview with CNN aired on Thursday. “If you talk about certain movements, especially in Syria and Iraq, we all consider them terrorist movement.”
“But there are differences. There are differences that some countries and some people (believe) that any group which comes from Islamic background are terrorists. And we don’t accept that.”
Qatar has been accused of funding Islamist groups in Syria, as well as Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood, following Arab Spring uprisings.
But Qatar is now taking part in Washington’s campaign against ISIL, which has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria.
The emir confirmed this participation.
“We’ve been asked by our American friends if we can join, and we did,” he said.
But he insisted that beyond defeating extremist movements in Syria, the long-term aim should be to punish the regime of president Bashar Al Assad.
“The main cause of all this is the regime in Syria, and this regime should be punished,” he said.
“If we think that we’re going to get rid of the terrorist movements and leave those regimes doing what — this regime especially, doing what he is doing — then terrorist movements will come back again,” he warned.
More than 180,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict since it erupted in March 2011, according to a monitoring group. The United Nations puts the figure at 191,000.
* Agence France-Presse
Published: September 26, 2014 04:00 AM