The leaked emails of UAE Ambassador to US, Yousef al-Otaiba has showed that UAE was desperate to host an office for the Taliban in Abu Dhabi, which eventually landed in Qatar.
The New York Times reports is contradictory to the mounted campaign against Qatar for its alleged support of ‘terrorist groups’. Qatar was targeted by the Saudi-led bloc for hosting an office for the Afghan armed group.
The office which was opened in 2013 was part of a US-led effort to facilitate peace talks in Afghanistan and not to support the group itself.
It was reported that Otaiba received an ‘angry call’ from his foreign minister, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as Taliban ended up in Qatar and not in the UAE. “I got an angry call from [Zayed] saying how come we weren’t told,” Otaiba wrote to an American official, referring to the decision on choosing Qatar to host the Taliban.
Another mail dated September 12, 2011, showed an Emirati official questioning the US position on the Taliban office’s location.
“There is an article in the London Times that mentions US is backing setting up a Taliban embassy in Doha,” the diplomat, Mohamed Mahmoud al-Khaja, wrote to Jeffrey Feltman, then assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs.
“HH says that we were under the impression that Abu Dhabi was your first choice and this is what we were informed”, Khaja said in the email, referring to bin Zayed.
The mails were leaked by a group called ‘GlobalLeaks’, which is not affiliated with the software developer, GlobaLeaks. GlobalLeaks said that the leaks were a proof of the “biggest hypocrisy” in the Qatar crisis.
Qatar decided to host Taliban with US’ backing four years back. In 2011, when the emails were sent, the Obama administration was making efforts to hold peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, as it sought to remove NATO troops from the country.
Though, most of the troops withdrew in 2014, peace was not achieved. The opening of the office did not go down well with the then President, Hamid Karzai, by styling itself as an unofficial embassy for a government-in-exile.
Karzai stopped bilateral talks with the US and threatened to boycott any peace process altogether after the inauguration of the offices with a flag raising ceremony for the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” – the name of the country under Taliban rule.
However, the flag was soon removed.
Otaiba criticized Qatar for its alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood and for the opening of another Doha-based office for the Palestinian group Hamas, which was again arranged with US approval.
“What is true is Qatar’s behaviour. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas & Qadafi,” Otaiba wrote in a tweet on July 17, referring to the late former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
Doha has however called the allegations as baseless.
Earlier this month, David Petraeus, former CIA chief and army general, said: “Our partners should remember that Qatar – at our request – welcomed delegations from the Taliban and Hamas”.
Qatar was given a list of 13 demands to resolve the issue, which was denied by Qatar and said that the list was made to be rejected.