Qatar emir denies funding Syria extremists
The emir of Qatar has denied accusations that his country funds extremist groups in Syria, while stressing the Gulf state’s commitment to the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to Agence France Presse.
“We don’t fund extremists,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said in an interview with CNN, aired Thursday.
“If you talk about certain movements, especially in Syria and Iraq, we all consider them terrorist movement,” he added.
“But there are differences. There are differences that some countries and some people [believe] that any group which comes from Islamic background are terrorists. And we don’t accept that,” he said.
During the interview, the emir confirmed Qatar’s participation in Washington’s campaign against ISIS, which has seized swaths of Iraq and Syria.
“We’ve been asked by our American friends if we can join, and we did,” he said.
But he insisted that beyond defeating extremist movements in Syria, the long-term aim should be to punish the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
“The main cause of all this is the regime in Syria, and this regime should be punished,” he said.
“If we think that we’re going to get rid of the terrorist movements and leave those regimes doing what — this regime especially, doing what he is doing — then terrorist movements will come back again,” he warned.
The gas-rich emirate has been accused of funding Islamist groups in Syria, as well as Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood, following the Arab Spring uprisings.