Qatar recognises Libyan rebel body as legitimate

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Qatar became the first Arab country to recognise Libya’s rebels as the people’s sole legitimate representative, in a move that may presage similar moves from other Gulf states.

Word of the decision came a day after a senior Libyan rebel official said Qatar had agreed to market crude oil produced from east Libyan fields no longer under the control of leader Muammar Gaddafi.
“This recognition comes from a conviction that the council has become, practically, a representative of Libya and its brotherly people,” the Qatari Foreign Ministry said in a diplomatic note on Monday, Reuters reports.

Explaining Qatar’s decision, an unnamed official cited by Qatar’s state news agency said the rebel council included representatives of different regions and had acceptance among the Libyan people.

Energy-rich Qatar was the first Arab country to join in patrols in the U.N.-backed no-fly zone over Libya last Friday. Doha-based news channel Al Jazeera has covered the revolt and several of its crew were kidnapped earlier this month and another was killed in an ambush.

France is the only Western country to have recognised the rebel council as the legitimate representative of Libya.

WAITING FOR AN OUTCOME

The head of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a loose economic and political bloc, said the “Libyan system has lost its legitimacy” and backed the move by the tiny Gulf Arab state.

Apart from Qatar, the GCC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The other Gulf Arab countries mostly are waiting to see the outcome in Libya as Western-led forces pound Gaddafi’s forces and rebels advance towards Tripoli. The United Arab Emirates offered humanitarian assistance and sent 12 aircraft to take part in patrols.

GCC Secretary General Abdulrahman al-Attiyah, who is Qatari, told Reuters the emirate’s position was “in line with the decisions of the GCC with Qatar’s stance supporting the choices of the Libyan people and their protection from the continuous brutality of the regime”.



Before the crisis, Libya produced about 1.6 million barrels of oil per day, or almost 2 percent of world output. Most of the oil is in the east where the rebels are stronger, but so far sanctions and the lack of a marketing operation have stopped the rebels selling it abroad.
“We contacted the oil company of Qatar and thankfully they agreed to take all the oil that we wish to export and market this oil for us,” said Ali Tarhouni, a rebel official in charge of economic, financial and oil matters.