How Qatar, Iran colluded to force Shiite demography on Syria-Lebanon border town

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A recent report by BBC on Qatar’s involvement in paying over $1 billion ransom to a terrorist group, in exchange for the release of Qatari hostages held in Iraq by the Iraqi Hezbollah organization, has highlighted the country’s role in altering sectarian demography on the Sunni populated town of al-Qusayr located on the Syrian-Lebanese border.

Reports suggest that the local Sunni residents in the town were displaced by the Lebanese Hezbollah.

The worse part in this forced displacement is that it was supervized by Qatari intelligence officer who was physically present in the town, and by the request of the Iranian Major General Qassem Suleimani, the Quds Force’s leader.

According to reports, al-Qaeda terrorist group was also present during this time.

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The story unfolded in the middle of intense negotiations between Doha and Iraq’s Hezbollah for the release of Qatari hostages for a ransom of over $1 billion. Qassem Suleimani appeared to be involved in these negotiations, forcing new conditions on Doha, in exchange for implementing an agreement dubbed “The four-town agreement.”

This agreement provides for the evacuation of both Sunni populated towns of Zabadani and Madaya from rebels opposed to the Syrian regime and their families, in exchange for the evacuation of both Shiite towns of Kufriya and al-Fa’wa of their population, after being besieged by both factions Ahrar al-Sham and Fatah al-Sham.

After Qatar handed over $1.5 billion, transported by a Qatari Airways flight to terrorists via Baghdad International Airport, the conspiracy of sectarian re-mapping of the agreement started, forcing a new demographic sectarian reality.

The text messages published by the BBC revealed that Qatar started immediate forced evacuation of the Sunni populated towns, handing them to Bashar al-Assad regime.

Qatari intelligence officer Jassim bin Fahad al-Thani, who is supposed to be a member of the ruling family, confirmed that he was present on the ground.

One of the text messages reportedly said the following: “We have brought out (46 buses) people from the two Sunni towns in Syria,” he said. “We took 5,000 people out over two days and now we are getting 3,000 people out ... we do not want any bombings.”

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A few days later, the other two Shiite towns were evacuated from its local population. According to the Qatari text message which read: “3,000 Shiites were detained during the handover ... when we see the hostages, we will let the buses move.”

This prompted a reply from Qatar’s Ambassador to Iraq who said: “They are terrified…They said that if the sun rise (without the Shiites leaving) they will keep the hostages’ captive,” he said.

Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim receives released kidnapped members of Qatar’s ruling family at the Doha airport in Doha on April 21, 2017. (File photo: Qatar News Agency via AP)
Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim receives released kidnapped members of Qatar’s ruling family at the Doha airport in Doha on April 21, 2017. (File photo: Qatar News Agency via AP)

Residents expelled

In the end, the Qatari hostages and the 3,000 Shiites were released, and the residents of the four towns were expelled, but the story does not end here.

Organizations involved included Ahrar al-Sham and Fatah al-Sham - who were besieging Kafriya and al-Fa’wa; with Ahrar al-Sham as a direct branch of al-Qaeda in Syria led by Abu Muhammad al-Julani, who headed al-Nusra Front to dissolve it later and rename it Fatah al-Sham.

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This raises the question about direct Qatari involvement and cooperation with this terrorist organization which ordered the lifting of the siege of 3,000 Shiites in exchange for freeing its captive members and transferring them under their protection to a safe place, in the presence of Qatari intelligence officer who did not mind being involved directly in this operation.

The BBC report and the coming to light of the text messages show once again the Qatari involvement in these negotiations and co-ordinations with Sulaimani, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and al-Qaeda to execute the four-town agreement that tried to alter sectarian demographic in the region.

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