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Qataris in Libya: ‘100s in every region’ 26, October 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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The Chief of Staff of the Qatar Armed forces, Major General Hamad Bin Ali Al Attiya, has confirmed for the first time that Qatar had ‘100s of Qataris on the ground [in Libya] in every region.’

While this is something of an open secret having been written about for a long time now (x x), it is interesting to note that it is now confirmed. However, the fact that there were ‘100s in every region’ is significantly more than most people thought.

It is likely that these forces were comprised of largely British trained Qatari Special Forces and parts of the Lekhwiya, a quasi-police outfit that does all sorts from, reportedly, training rebels in Libya, handling motorcades in Doha to directing traffic. Both the Lekhwiya and the Special Forces are reputed to be well trained.

In situ, it would be interesting to know if the Qataris were the ones doing the training themselves, or if it was the foreign instructors that trained them. I suppose it must have been a mix. The Qatari Armed Forces as a whole and like most Emirate forces, are small and rely to varying degrees on foreign soldiers within their ranks. Not only to do some of the training but to simply make up the numbers. There are, for example, many Jordanians, Yemenis and Egyptians in the Qatari military. None of these folk, incidentally, received a 120% pay raise the other month unlike their Qatari work-mates.

It is unlikely that this is the start of a new militarism in Qatari foreign policy. Sure, if another opportunity comes up where it is politically and practically feasible for Qatar to send some trainers into a conflict zone, they might do this again. Yet the chances of that do not appear to be good. Syria, for example, is a wholly different kettle of fish. From a vastly different, far smaller geography, to a significantly different political situation vis a vis the rebels and the government, to the fact that it is a critical regional tinder-box, I’d be surprised if any Qataris were rumored to be on the ground there in anything other than exceedingly small numbers, if at all.

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