A senior Qatari official says Qatar hosted the Taliban militant group based on a request from the United States, whose president, along with a number of Arab regimes, has been pressuring Doha over what they say is its support for extremist groups. Mutlaq al-Qahtani, a senior counterterrorism adviser to Qatar’s foreign minister, told Al Jazeera on Sunday that Qatar hosted the Taliban “by request by the US government” and as part of Qatar’s “open-door policy, to facilitate talks, to mediate and to bring peace.”
The Taliban opened a “political office” in Qatar in 2013, but the Qatari government later shut it down. Taliban leaders are still said to be in Doha, however.
Qatar has come under intense pressure from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, the Maldives, and Egypt — all of which have broken off ties with Doha — and the US over accusations that the Qatari government sponsors extremist groups, including the Taliban.
A recent visit by US President Donald Trump to Riyadh, where he called on Arab countries to “isolate” governments supporting “terrorism” as well as Iran, is believed to have emboldened the Saudi rulers to pursue their policies more aggressively, including by assailing Qatar.
Those regional countries have suspended all land, air, and sea traffic with Qatar, ejected its diplomats, and ordered most Qatari citizens to leave.
Trump poured fuel on the fire of the dispute between Qatar and its adversaries by suggesting earlier in a tweet that his call in Riyadh for the isolation of terror sponsors was the reason why Qatar was being targeted.
This is while Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had just earlier attempted in a more diplomatically savvy manner to avoid a stirring up of tensions between the Arab countries involved in the dispute, calling for dialog to resolve the tensions.—Agencies