US Calls on Qatar to Stop Funding Terrorist Militias

US Calls on Qatar to Stop Funding Terrorist Militias

Sunday, 13 May, 2018 - 06:45
Armed Houthi militants shout slogans during a demonstration in support of the militia in Sanaa. (Reuters)
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
The Daily Telegraph published on Saturday communications between the administration of former US President George W. Bush and Qatar in which the latter called on the former to stop financing militias loyal to Iran.

The revelation comes thirteen days after the Washington Post reported on a leaked letter from Qatar confirming that Doha had paid over $1 billion to extremist militias in Syria and Iraq.

Several US security officials had expressed concerns about Qatar’s links to a number of pro-Iran militias, many of them regarded as terrorist organizations by Washington.

Washington’s call follows the disclosure of a number of emails said to be sent from a Qatari senior official to leading members of groups, such as Lebanon’s “Hezbollah” and senior commanders in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The emails, seen by the Sunday Telegraph, show that senior members of the Qatari government are on friendly terms with Iranian key figures such as Qassem Soleimani, head of al-Quds Force, and Hassan Nasrallah, head of “Hezbollah”.

The previously undisclosed conversations between Qatari officials and heads of several Iran-backed terror groups show that Doha paid hundreds of millions of dollars as part of ransom payments to secure the release of hostages held by Shiite militias in southern Iraq.

Qatari officials say they opened communications with Iran and a number of the terror organizations supported by Tehran to secure the release of members of the Qatari royal family who were kidnapped while on a hunting trip in southern Iraq.

After US President Donald Trump decided on Tuesday to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran, the administration is now calling on Qatar to review its relations with Tehran and Iranian-sponsored terrorist groups.

A number of senior Qatari government officials have developed cordial relations with senior figures in IRGC, as well as a number of Iranian-sponsored terrorist organizations, according to a senior US security official.

"At a time when the US government is trying to persuade Iran to end its support for terror groups in the Middle East, we do not believe it is helpful that Qatar continues to have ties with such organizations," added the official.

Washington regards Qatar as an important ally in the war against terrorism, and the US based its command headquarters for the recent military campaign against ISIS in Qatar.

In one of the emails, believed to have been intercepted by foreign governments, a senior Qatari official reported that £50 million was paid to Soleimani in April 2017. Another £25 million was paid to an Iraqi Shiite terror organization that is accused of killing a number of US troops in southern Iraq.

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