viernes, 7 de diciembre de 2012
US uses Qatar, UAE as surrogates in its ‘regime change’ bids
A militant mans an anti-aircraft heavy machinegun in Syria’s northwestern city of Aleppo. (File photo)
The US government has secretly used two Persian Gulf states of Qatar and United Arab Emirates (UAE) to ship weapons to rebel groups in Libya and Syria in efforts to help overthrow their governments.
“Relying on surrogates allows the United States to keep its fingerprints off operation, but also means they may play out in ways that conflict with American interests,” leading US daily The New York Times reports Thursday, noting growing worries in Washington that the two despotic Arab regimes have also given arms to “radical jihadist” groups, in Libya and now in Syria, unfriendly to the United States.
According to the report, amid Washington worries that weapon shipments to Libya through their Arab surrogates in the Persian Gulf may have ended up in the hands of groups that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, last September, including its ambassador to the country, the Obama administration is now considering “whether to play a direct role in arming rebels in Syria, where weapons are flowing in from Qatar and other [US-backed] countries.”
The report cites unnamed US officials as saying that the Obama administration “has never determined where all of the weapons, paid by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, went inside Libya,” adding that Qatar has shipped “small arms” to Libya by air and sea, “for which it has demanded reimbursement from Libya’s new government.”
“Some of the arms since have been moved from Libya to militants with ties to al-Qaeda in Mali… Others have gone to Syria,” the daily adds, quoting “several American and foreign officials and arms traders.”
American officials are also cited in the report as saying that “the United Arab Emirates first approached the Obama administration during the early months of the Libyan uprising, asking for permission to ship American-built weapons that the United States had supplied for the emirates’ use,” noting that US officials rejected the request but “urged the emirates to ship weapons to Libya that could not be traced to the United States.”
The report further reveals that an Arizona-based arms merchant, named Marc Turi, was also involved in shipping US-made weapons to Qatar for profit through Washington-issued licensure, but his Phoenix home was raided by Department of Homeland Security officers, probing his “arms dealings.”
Turi, however, insists that he has become a scapegoat because “he was getting in the way of the Obama administration’s dealings with Qatar.”
He further complained that the Qataris imposed no controls on who got the weapons. “They just handed them out like candy,” he said.