Saudi Arabia and UAE 'tried to host' Taliban first

Saudi Arabia and UAE 'tried to host' Taliban first
From Al Jazeera - August 12, 2017

A former Afghan fighter turned mediator says Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) tried to host the Taliban before the armed group set up an office in Qatar.

Abdulla Anas, a former friend of the late al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, told the Middle East Eye on Friday that he was "bewildered" by Saudi Arabia's claim that Qatar supported terrorism by allowing the Taliban to open an office in Doha.

That initiative was first established in Saudi Arabia, Anas said.

"There were also some rounds in the Emirates. So if Qatar is accused of hosting terrorists, someone hosted the same 'terrorists' before this," he said.

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His statements apparently contradict a mounted campaign against Qatar for its alleged support of "terrorist groups".

A Saudi-led bloc, which includesUAE, Bahrain and Egypt, severed diplomatic ties with Qatar in June and imposed a land and sea blockade.

The four Arab states accused Qatar of financing terrorism, citing the 2013 opening of a Taliban embassy in Doha as an example.

Qatar has denied all allegations and said it agreed to open the missionfor the Taliban as part of a broader US-led effort to facilitate peace talks inAfghanistan-not to support their ideology or the group itself.

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Anas, an Algerian who now lives in London, told Middle East Eye that he made a series of visits to Saudi Arabia between 2006 and 2008 in an effort to bring warring factions in Afghanistan to the negotiating table.

He said he met Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the former head of Saudi intelligence, more than once, and helped organise the 2008 peace talks in Medina with the blessings of the late king, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.


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