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Qatar liaised with Iran-backed parties in Bahrain

Qatar’s former prime minister Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem Al Thani in March 2011 had extensive contacts with Al Wefaq secretary general Ali Salman

Image Credit: REUTERS
ReutersA sign indicating a route to Qatar embassy is seen in Manama, Bahrain, June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
Gulf News

Manama: Details are emerging in Bahrain about the charges cited by the kingdom as it announced the reasons for severing its diplomatic ties with fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member Qatar.

On Monday morning, Bahrain said it was cutting off relations with Qatar and explained that the decision, while regrettable, was inevitable and necessary to protect the country’s security and preserve its stability.

Bahrain added that it was not against the Qatari people who did realise the terrible sufferings visited on Bahrainis with every terror attack rendered possible by the support of the Qatari government for terrorism and its efforts to bring down the legitimate Bahraini political regime.

No details were officially given about the attempts to bring down the regime in Bahrain, but Al Watan daily on Wednesday reported that it was able to obtain facts about the role played by some Qatari officials in 2011 when Bahrain had to deal with its worst political crisis in modern times.

The newspaper said that “in 2011, Qatar liaised with the now-dissolved Al Wefaq society despite its links with Iran and which was at the time calling for the downfall of the regime.

“The contacts contributed to the preparations to launch a Qatari initiative that included forming an interim government in Bahrain and calling for withdrawing the Peninsula Shield troops from Manama,” Al Watan said.

The troops, from the military arm of the GCC, were deployed to ensure peace and stability as they guarded vital installations in the capital to ensure that they were not impacted by the crisis that had hit the country.

Bahrain said that it called in the Peninsula Shield under an accord between the six GCC countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — regarding a united response to threats, likening it to Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato).

According to Al Watan, Qatar’s former prime minister Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem Al Thani in March 2011 held extensive contacts with Al Wefaq’s secretary general Ali Salman a short time before the Peninsula Shield troops entered Bahrain and shared with him several proposals that were later turned into the Qatari initiative.

The Qatari premier asked Al Wefaq to coordinate with its allied societies to ensure that protesters remained at the GCC Roundabout, the epicentre of the protests, as Qatar exerted pressure on Bahrain to open up all roads to people and remove vigilantes and check-points, Al Watan added.

The Qatari premier presented to Al Wefaq a proposal to launch a national dialogue, whenever there was a possibility, to discuss its political demands. However, protesters had to remain at the roundabout for one month after the start of the dialogue.

Qatar received feedback on the situation and the Qatari prime minister presented the “Qatari Initiative” that asked the Bahraini government to implement four principal points.

Under the initiative, Bahrain was asked to guarantee the right for all Bahrainis to protest, the government called upon to shut down Bahrain Televisions and to release all detainees, and there was also a suggestion that an interim government be formed within two months.

The Qatari official told Al Wefaq to insist on lifting the state of national emergency in the kingdom and the withdrawal of all Peninsula Shield forces. He stressed that Qatar would not take part in the forces and, even if it did, it would be something symbolic and emblematic.

According to Al Watan, Al Wefaq welcomed the proposals, particularly after the Qatari premier assured them that Doha would be the main sponsor of the initiative and that it accepted that Al Wefaq be represented in the interim government.

However, when the Qatari government presented its proposals, the Bahraini government rejected them flatly, saying they amounted to interference in the kingdom’s domestic affairs, Al Watan said.