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Libya denies rift with Qatar | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Libyan National Transitional Council [NTC] is still silent regarding the harsh public criticism that some of its members and supporters have levied at Qatar, accusing it of interfering in Libya’s domestic affairs.

The NTC has avoided releasing any official statements on the growing wave of criticism of the Qatari role in Libya. However, in a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, a high-ranking official denied any shift in the official relationship between the NTC and the Qatari government. He said that the criticism of the Qatari role did not express the NTC’s official stand, but only of a group of the NTC’s members.

Mahmud Jibril, former chairman of the NTC’s Executive Council; and Abdul-Rahman Shalqam, former Libyan foreign minister; launched an unprecedented scathing criticism [of the Qatari role]. The Qatari authorities have ignored the criticism and have not issued any statements either.

In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone from Tripoli, a NTC source said: “The critical remarks do not at all express deterioration in Libyan-Qatari relations. We will maintain these relations, and will not forget the positive role that Qatar played in supporting the popular revolution that erupted on 17 February and ended with toppling of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and his subsequent death.”

Qatar, along with the United States and other European countries, led the Western alliance that backed the Libyan people’s uprising against Gaddafi. Qatar also offered military and financial aid to the NTC, and was one of the first countries to recognize the NTC and delegitimize Gaddafi’s regime.

Numerous civil society organizations intended to stage a demonstration in Tripoli over the weekend, in protest of the Qatari role in Libya, but the demonstration was postponed until a later date. According to statements to Asharq Al-Awsat by activists and politicians privy to the demonstrators, this move coincided with confirmation by Libyan sources that the Qatari authorities decided abruptly to end hosting the Libya Al-Ahrar Satellite Channel Television, which transmits from Qatari territories. That television channel was regarded as the mouthpiece of the NTC.

Meanwhile, Libyan Prime Minister-designate, Abdel Rahim al-Kib, began over the weekend, intensive consultations in Benghazi in preparation for announcing the formation of his prospective government. Officials close to Al-Kib said that the new government will for the first time include the appointment of at least two women in ministerial posts. It will also grant leaders of the revolutionaries’ three ministerial portfolios as the government intends to contain the revolutionaries’ anger and restiveness over what they described as ignoring the military role they played in overthrowing Gaddafi’s regime.

Al-Kib has so far met with military and security commanders of the revolutionaries in Tripoli, and promised to improve their conditions and meld them in the new Libyan state. Despite public relief at electing Al-Kib as prime minister of the prospective government, Libyan sources say that many, who look forward to joining the new government, are waiting to decide their position after the announcement of the government, something that indicates that public differences will arise later.