Qatar responds to New York Times’ article; denies involvement in Somalia attack

The State of Qatar has denied allegations made in the New York Times story. It is asserted that Qatar's foreign policy has always been one of creating stability and prosperity and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign countries. Somalia's Foreign Minister Ahmed Isse Awad backed up Qatar's assertion.

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News Desk |

Qatar has categorically denied news reports published by the New York Times (NYT) on Monday, proclaiming the alleged involvement of Qatar in the bomb attacks carried out in Bosaso, Somalia in May.

Earlier, the NYT had reported obtaining a phone call recording between Khalifa al-Muhannadi, a Qatari businessman working in Somalia and Qatar’s Ambassador to Somalia, Hassan bin Hamza, suggesting Qatari “interests” in bombing its rival neighbor, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) assets in Somalia in a bid to drive the Emirati state out of the African region.

The Emiratis have established a ring of more than half a dozen commercial ports or military bases around the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa.

Responding to the report published by the NYT Government Communications Office (GCO) of the State of Qatar on Tuesday, that Qatar’s foreign policy has always been one of creating stability and prosperity and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign countries, stressing that the Qatari national, who the New York Times quoted, is not, and has never been, an advisor of any sort to the government of the State of Qatar.

At least 10 people were injured in the May 10 attack in downtown Bosaso with a local affiliate of the Islamic State (IS) claiming responsibility for the bombing.

Read more: The Gulf crisis: Fake news shines spotlight on psychological warfare

Qatar’s request to NYT on controversial Somalia recording rejected

It is also reported that a request to the NYT for a copy of recording that suggested the Gulf kingdom was promoting terrorism in Somalia was turned down.

Qatar has categorically denied news report published by the NYT, proclaiming the alleged involvement of Qatar in the bomb attacks carried out in Bosaso.

Qatar News Agency (QNA) quoted the government’s liaison office saying that it had requested a copy of the recordings published by the U.S. newspaper to support its own investigation around the incident, but noted that the request was turned down due to NYT’s editorial policy.

A foreign intelligence agency opposed to Qatar’s foreign policy was reported to have provided the recording to the NYT according to the leading US news agency.

Read more: Is Qatar defying the Gulf blockade?

Somalia “satisfied” with Qatari government’s statement

Somalia’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Isse Awad backed up Qatar’s assertion. “The Qatari government released a statement that they shared with us in which they denied the claim. And we are satisfied with it,” Awad told Voice of America’s Somali service on Tuesday. Both countries share cordial ties since 1970 and are part of the regional African League.

A foreign intelligence agency opposed to Qatar’s foreign policy was reported to have provided the recording to the NYT according to the leading US news agency.

In March 2015, Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke led talks with the Prime Minister of Qatar, Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani. The gathering focused on strengthening investment, commerce, and governance ties between both territories, with an emphasis on stabilization initiatives. It concluded with a signed cooperative agreement in the civil aviation and education sectors.

Read more: Qatar to host New round of talks between the US and Taliban

According to Sharmarke, the treaty aims to accelerate the ongoing reconstruction and development process in Somalia and to buttress local job creation. Among the agreement’s stipulations, Qatar Airways is scheduled to begin making flights to the Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu.

Qatar has also launched investments in Mogadishu and supported Somalia’s forces. It supplied 68 armoured vehicles in earlier this year, taking advantage of the presence in the country of Turkey’s biggest overseas military base where more than 10,000 Somali soldiers were trained.

Qatar-UAE Power Struggle in Horn of Africa

Qatar and the UAE are driven by their geopolitical interests in the Horn of Africa. Doha’s approach has relied heavily on the consolidation of its ties with the sovereign central government in Somalia seeking its political support. It has also viewed Somalia as a sphere of influence to minimize the impact of Abu Dhabi’s blockade.

https://twitter.com/FreeFromTerror/status/1153723557437935616

Qatar views Somalia as a strategic regional base from which to alleviate the Saudi-UAE-imposed blockade against it via indirect flight routes in the region. Qatar Airways’ traffic over Somali airspace has significantly increased. In contrast, the UAE’s interests in Somalia had been solely driven by economic and strategic factors.

QNA quoted the government’s liaison office saying that it had requested a copy of the recordings published by the U.S. newspaper to support its own investigation around the incident.

Its engagement with secessionist Somaliland has been an opportunity to expand its economic and military clout in the region. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain imposed a land, sea, and air blockade on Qatar in June 2017 after disagreeing with Doha’s foreign policy and accusing it of supporting Islamist groups in the region; an accusation Doha denies.

There have been subsequent efforts of dirty tricks campaign against Qatar by their Gulf enemies as the UAE moves to establish its influence in the Horn of Africa. The Emiratis have established a ring of more than half a dozen commercial ports or military bases around the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa, including a major military base at Assab, Eritrea, that was used to launch operations into Yemen, where the UAE and the Saudis are fighting a war against the Houthis.

Read more: Qatar pledges to remain at the forefront of the Palestinian cause

The four countries issued a list of the 13 demands to Doha, including shutting down a Turkish military base on Qatari soil and closing down its state-funded broadcaster Al Jazeera Media Network. Qatar, a major US ally in the Gulf, has insisted on maintaining an independent foreign policy path from the blockading nations. Being a strategic ally of the superpower, it has been hosting Taliban for almost a decade.

The UAE, part of the blockading quartet, had reportedly expressed anger over US selection of Qatar for hosting the Taliban talks. Hacked emails of the UAE ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba showed the efforts of the Emirati state to negotiate Taliban talks in Abu Dhabi. One of the e-mails by Otaiba had reportedly cited the Taliban talks in Qatar as a major reason behind Emirati blockade on the tiny peninsula.

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