Qatar emir: Airstrikes against IS group not enough

AP News
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Posted: Nov 11, 2014 10:33 AM
Qatar emir: Airstrikes against IS group not enough

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Qatar's ruling emir said Tuesday that U.S.-led coalition airstrikes are not enough to defeat "terrorism and extremism" in Iraq and Syria as he urged the world to take action against factors fueling radicalism there — a suggestion that also took aim at the Syrian regime.

Speaking to the Gulf nation's legislative advisory council, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said the policies of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and "some militias in Iraq" — a reference to Iranian-backed Shiite militias — are the most important factors contributing to extremism in the two countries.

"Any counterterrorism policies in Syria and Iraq that do not take this into account are just crisis management," he told the Shura Council in Doha.

Qatar plays a supporting role in the U.S.-led military coalition conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria by allowing coalition forces to use its vast al-Udeid air base.

The country has provided substantial arms and other aid to Syrian rebels, and along with other Arab states has pushed for tougher action against Assad's government. It has come under fire from critics for its support of Islamist groups, but it denies supporting militants and says it has never provided backing for Islamic State fighters.

However, Qatar's support for Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and its perceived meddling in regional politics rankle its Gulf neighbors. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Doha earlier this year, straining relations in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, which also includes Kuwait and Oman.

The emir sought to quell those differences in his address Tuesday, saying the GCC remains Qatar's "first regional home."

Tamim also touched on the effect of falling oil prices on the OPEC member nation.

"We have a strong and robust economy and will not be affected by such developments," he said. Still, he called on civil servants to rein in "extravagant and wasteful" public spending, whatever the price of oil.

Also on Tuesday, the emir named a brother, Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Thani, as his official deputy, according to a statement carried by the Qatar News Agency. The 34-year-old emir assumed the Qatari throne in June 2013 after his father's abdication.