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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: "l’émirat récolte ce qu’il a semé"

by Marc de Miramon

"The emirate is reaping what it has sown"

Translated Thursday 31 January 2013, by Henry Crapo and reviewed by Richard Pond

Alain Chouet, recognized specialist concerning the Moslem world, was until 2002 the chief of service of security intelligence for the DGSE [1]

In your opinion, is there persuasive evidence of Qatari support for the Islamist groups that ravage the north of Mali?

Alain Chouet:
There is no proof of operational military support. Anyway, Qatar has neither the means nor capacity for that: it does not have the army nor the officers for that type of action. On the other hand, the emirate has furnished political, religious, and certainly financial support to Islamist groups in Mali. I add, in making this accusation, that Qatar is reaping what it has sown while supporting armed groups in Libya and Syria.

Huma: The humanitarian cover story for financing Islamist groups specialised in violent action isn’t exactly a new phenomenon ...

Alain Chouet:
Yes, but in general it hasn’t involved the Red Cross. Historically those channels are found at the level of Saudi organisations such as the Islamic World League or the World Organisation of Saudi Youth. At the same time, it has not been a long time since Qatar began engaging in this type of humanitarian action. Perhaps they are still in a learning stage.

How do you analyze the declarations of the Qatar prime minister, who explains that there is no military solution to the problem of northern Mali, and who has called, as has the preacher Yusuf Al Qaradawi, for negotiations with the Islamiste groups?

Alain Chouet:
This is certainly not designed to please their public opinion, because the Qatari don’t care a bit for the Malians. For the majority of the Qatari, the blacks are just slaves. Their concern is to know who has control of Islam: Iran, the Saudi, or themselves. In reality, they know all too well that, if the military operation continues, the Islamists will be crushed. They are not in Afghanistan, not in Vietnam, not in Iraq. The terrain is not in their favor by reason of the geographic situation in the Sahel, where they are at the mercy of drones and of observation satellites, in a region where the population is absolutely not favourable.

Does Algeria find itself menaced by this Qatari activism in their immediate neighbourhood, be it in Mali, Morocco, Libya, or Tunisia?

Alain Chouet:
I don’t think so. The Algerian problem is that they are paralyzed by their interior problems. They have virtually no more diplomatic presence at the level of the Sahel. The hostage taking at In Amenas must be understood in the context of a battle for influence within offshoots of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqmi), and has not much to do with the French intervention in Mali.

[1Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, the French state bureau for external security.

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