Alwaght- Saudi Arabia tried to host a liaison office for the Taliban while it now accuses Qatar of doing the same, a former fighter has revealed.
Speaking to the Middle East Eye, Abdullah Anas also said he is bewildered by claims from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia that Qatar supports extremism by hosting the Taliban in Doha.
On 26 July, Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to the US, said: “I don’t think it is a coincidence that inside Doha you have the Hamas leadership, you have a Taliban embassy, and you have the Muslim Brotherhood leadership.”
But Abdullah Anas told MEE: “If Qatar is hosting the Taliban for talks aimed at reconciling the warring factions in Afghanistan, this initiative was established in Saudi Arabia before.
“There were also some rounds in the Emirates. So if Qatar is accused of hosting terrorists, someone hosted the same ‘terrorists’ before this.”
It was Anas’s idea to start the process with a series of visits he made to Afghanistan and then to Saudi Arabia from 2006 to 2008.
During that time, he engaged in active cooperation with not only of Hamid Karzai, then president of Afghanistan, but also Prince Muqrin, then head of Saudi intelligence and, eventually, the late King Abdullah.
The former mujahidin turned Afghan mediator had more than one meeting with the head of Saudi intelligence.
Anas’s peace mission started in 2006. An Algerian, he left Afghanistan in 1993, having spent 10 years fighting the Soviet army alongside Ahmed Shah Massoud.
His father-in-law, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, co-founded the Afghan Services Bureau (the Maktab al-Khidamat or MAK) along with Osama bin Laden . The MAK raised funds for, and recruited, foreign mujahidin for the war against the Soviets.
The New York Times published leaked emails from the Emirati ambassador to Washington Yousef al-Otaiba which revealed that the UAE had originally sought to host the Taliban liaison office.
Qatar says it hosted the Taliban at the request of the government of the United States as part of Doha’s "open-door policy, to facilitate talks, to mediate and to bring peace".
Mutlaq Al Qahtani Qatari foreign minister's special envoy on counterterrorism added that by hosting the office, Doha "was facilitating the talks between the Americans, the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan".