Qatar admitted Wednesday having deployed hundreds of soldiers in Libya in support of the insurgents, who overthrew the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. The news, reported by the international media, was given by the Chief of Staff of the small Gulf nation, Hamad bin Ali Al Atiya.
According to various observers, Qatar’s admission takes on even more significance considering the role in the Arab revolts and in Libya of the al Jazeera satellite TV, whose editor is in fact the government of Qatar. Al Atiya’s declarations were released on the sidelines of the Doha Conference in Qatar’s capital, attended by representatives of nations that supported the revolt and the head of the Libyan interim National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil.
The head of the NTC asked that the NATO continue operations in Libya until the end of 2011, which the North Atlantic Alliance will decide on Friday in Brussels (Belgium) at the meeting of the ambassadors of the allied nations.
The death of Gheddafi, killed last week with his son Mutassim in still unclear circumstances, though ending a violent conflict also opened a new phase in which hidden truths will emerge. Although the NATO officially declared it conducted 26,000 operations in Libyan territory since last March, the number of civilian victims of the conflict remains unclear, as also the actual involvement of foreign troops. Qatar aside, many sources reported the presence of western special forces with a very different objective in respect to the official 1973 UN resolution that authorised an intervention with solely humanitarian aims.
The Doha meeting will mainly focus on security, in particular the forms of international cooperation to restore stability in Libya. Abdel Jalil specified that the priority is to impede Gaddafi supporters from fleeing to other countries.