Dubai: In late 2011, tapes of a purported conversation between Qatar’s former foreign minister and prime minister Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani and late Libyan leader Muammar Al Gaddafi were released, allegedly after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.
The tapes are reported to have angered Saudi Arabia, and have been cited as one of the reasons the country chose to downgrade ties with Qatar. The recordings are presumed to be from after 2008, since an Arab League meeting the recording refers to was held in Damascus that year.
Below are excerpts of Hamad Bin Jassem’s alleged statements from the conversation:
“British and American intelligence [agencies] have asked me to assess the situation in Saudi Arabia — please keep this between us. [So] I assessed the situation for them, and told them that it’s difficult.
“The government is senescent, and it is not allowing anyone to run the affairs [of the country]. OK, it can be an old government but at least allow people to run the country. I told them that if someone cannot work for eight hours a day, he should leave it to someone else to work and oversee the affairs. They haven’t even allowed the youth to work. Nothing.
“Hope in the front line [generation], even in the army, is lost. Hope should be vested in the second line …. One should develop personal relations with them, those who are in between. This, in my personal view, is an important aspect of the process. These people [holiday] in London, Paris, Rome. They are known. These are the ones we need to work on. Our embassies should quietly [work on them]. This won’t cost us a lot. This is the first point.
“The second point is that the English told me that they will stand with the Al Saud [ruling family] to the end because the alternative — Islamists, is dangerous. We don’t want that. They’re tired of them [Al Saud] but they can’t find an alternative. We succeeded when we took away their [American] bases [and brought them] to Qatar. We created a [security] deficiency.
“Now they [Saudis] have given again them paid-for bases … We had slowly broken their monopoly over the Gulf. Look at how many heads of state attended [the summit] in Damascus. We, the Kuwaitis and the Emiratis attended. This was a major setback for Saudi Arabia. They [Saudis] no longer have control over the Arab League.
“We are working with the Americans on this. We have a dispute with the Americans, which the Saudis have had success in, that is Al Jazeera. The Americans are upset with Al Jazeera. But we communicate [with Americans], and they ask us for our opinions on many things but the problem is that we don’t have many Arab states that will [publicly stand with us].
“The second thing is that we wanted to be a bit neutral with them on some issues because they piled significant pressure on us [through] the Americans. And we were steadfast in the face of this for three years and did not change our positions. And they are trying to [undermine] us on certain issues.”