Monday, April 21, 2008

Ethiopia cuts ties with Qatar after row over Al-Jazeera

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia announced Monday it was severing ties with Qatar, accusing the Gulf Arab state of supporting armed opposition groups across the Horn of Africa region. It cited Qatar's "strong ties" with Ethiopia's arch-foe Eritrea, and alleged Qatari support to armed opposition groups within Ethiopia as well as to Islamist insurgents in Somalia, where Addis Ababa sent troops in 2006 to prop up a weak government.
"Ethiopia has decided to break diplomatic relations with Qatar," said a government statement received by AFP.
"Ethiopia has displayed considerable patience toward Qatar's attempts to destabilize our sub-region and, in particular, its hostile behavior towards Ethiopia," the statement said.
"Qatar has now, however, become a major source of instability," it added. "All those who are prepared to foment instability in Ethiopia and undermine the country's security have been given support and encouragement by Qatar."
It went on: "This has gone beyond Qatar's strong ties with Eritrea. It has indeed provided direct and indirect assistance to terrorist organizations in Somalia and other areas ... Qatar has been one of the most important supporters of terrorism and extremism in our sub-region."
The statement also accused Qatar of using its "media outlets" to undermine Ethiopia.

On April 11, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry had sharply criticized the Qatar-based news network Al-Jazeera for airing a series of TV reports on Ethiopia's restive Ogaden region.
The Ethiopian authorities have imposed a news blackout on the vast area populated by ethnic Somali Muslims and slapped touch restrictions on humanitarian work.
The Foreign Ministry was particularly upset by a report on the activities of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), the separatist group it has been battling for years.
"Al-Jazeera is using inaccurate and misleading information, fabricated by opposition elements backed by a state which makes no secret of its efforts to destabilize not only Ethiopia but also the entire subregion," it had said. "It is hard to ignore the fact that Al-Jazeera broadcasts out of Doha, the capital of Qatar. Qatar is a close ally of Eritrea. It would be totally unrealistic to imagine that any Al-Jazeera program on Ethiopia could be anything other than seriously biased."
Addis Ababa accuses neighboring Eritrea - which acquired its independence from Ethiopia in 1993 - of supporting opposition movements.
In Doha, Qatar officials dismissed the Ethiopian allegations.
Al-Jazeera's aggressive style of reporting has caused many governments unaccustomed to criticism to accuse it of bias - and some have also downgraded their relations with Qatar. (The Daily Star)

Read also: "Ethiopia severs ties with Qatar" (BBC)


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