ANALYSIS: Hezbollah and Qatar – a story of forbidden love?

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The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, described Lebanon’s Hezbollah as a resistance movement. He was quoted by the Qatar News Agency saying that it is “not wise” to be hostile to Iran, Hezbollah’s biggest sponsor.

Even if Qatar considers these statements from the emir to be fabricated, it cannot hide that its policies in recent years towards Hezbollah are parallel to these remarks, despite the havoc caused by the Syrian war. It is a case of forbidden love between the two.

In 2008, Qatar sponsored a meeting uniting all the Lebanese parties in Doha to end an 18-month-long deadlock. Qatari support to Hezbollah and its allies (the March 8 block) was clear.

قطر حزب اللہ
قطر حزب اللہ

The most prominent stance that empowered Hezbollah was in 2010, when the former Qatari emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, visited the south of Lebanon, a Hezbollah stronghold. He toured the villages that Qatar contributed to reconstructing after the war with Israel in 2006. Hezbollah organized a massive reception for the emir in its stronghold, Bint Jbeil.

The visit to southern Lebanon at that time gave a great impetus to Hezbollah’s propaganda who aimed for Syria, Iran and Qatar to become a regional axis in the face of the Arab “moderation”.

قطر حزب اللہ
قطر حزب اللہ

After the eruption of the Syrian revolution, Qatar supported groups opposed to the Syrian regime. Consequently, Qatar’s relations with Hezbollah stumbled and Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah criticized Doha several times in his speeches. However, it did not last long and the relations are now back to normal. Nasrallah said that despite the stances regarding Syria, Qatar and Hezbollah are still in contact, trying to find a political solution for Syria.

A pro-Hezbollah newspaper reported in November 2013 that there were meetings held between Qatar and Hezbollah that stressed on the importance of the axis (Syria, Iran and Hezbollah) for Qatar. Duri

ng these meetings, Qatar insisted on informing Hezbollah about its desire to play a direct role in breaking the ice with Damascus and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The London-based al-Arab newspaper quoted observers as saying that heavy discussions were recently held between Qatari and Syrian officials, arranged by Hezbollah in Beirut. Qatar made generous financial offers for the Assad regime that is facing huge financial difficulties.

The newspaper quoted sources saying that Doha is willing to strengthen the Assad regime on the financial level and provide it with important information about the opposition, in an attempt to thwart the Syrian revolution, in response to the Saudi Arabia’s attempts to limit the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region; the group is also close to Qatar.

In April, Qatar had an agreement with Hezbollah to free 26 Qatari hunters, including members of the ruling family, who were kidnapped during a hunting trip on the Syrian-Iraqi borders in January. Sources said that Hezbollah has worked hard to free the kidnapped hunters, and it was a confidential operation. While this cannot be confirmed, several sources reported that Qatar paid $2.3 million to Hezbollah for the return of its kidnapped citizens.

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