TUNIS, TRIPOLI – Angry Tunisian and Libyan protesters burned the Qatari flag in two simultaneous moves and without prior coordination.
Furious about the persistent interference of the Gulf state in the Arab countries’ affairs, the protesters condemned Doha’s foreign policy and accused its Emir of supporting religious parties to serve his country’s agenda, as part of a "conspiratorial scheme for the benefit of Israel and the international imperialist powers."
The Tunisian protesters in Gafsa burned the Qatari flag on Thursday during a demonstration organized by various political forces and civil society organizations to condemn the "Zionist attack on Syria" and show solidarity with the Syrian people.
The burning of the Qatari flag in Gafsa translates the resentment felt by the majority of Tunisians against the "blatant Qatari interference” in Tunisia’s internal affairs.
The protesters said that their country was renowned for its civilization and high position on the world map compared to the small Gulf Emirate, which claims the defence of freedom and democracy, while repressing its people, and silencing all dissident voices, even those of poets (in reference to the case of the Qatar 'anti-regime' poet Ibn al-Dhib).
Observers say that the State of Qatar, which claims that it has provided the peoples of the Arab Spring with a media platform "Al Jazeera" in a way that supported their demands and contributed to the pressure put on ousted regimes, has began to quickly lose popularity among the general public in all those countries.
According to observers, people in the Arab Spring countries have begun to realize that Qatar’s media and financial support is not above suspicion as the small Gulf Emirate is pursuing an agenda that serves its interest and those of Western allies while seeking to become a “regional power.”
In tandem with what happened in Gafsa, now a familiar scene in Tunisia, the Qatari flag and a doll intended to represent Qatar’s ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, were burned by demonstrators in Benghazi who accused the Emir of interfering in Libya’s internal affairs.
An estimated 500 protestors gathered outside the city’s Tibesti hotel late to vent their anger against the Gulf state, their opposition to militiamen who had been besieging the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice in Tripoli, and their support for the government of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and the General National Congress.
Much of the opposition was directed at Qatar which protesters claimed was supporting Libyan Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood. Some protestors demanded that Qataris be prevented from buying any land in Libya.
A statement from the Qatar embassy in Tripoli, which vigorously denied Doha’s interference in Libya, failed to cut ice with protestors in Tobruk, where a Qatari flag was also burned.
Analysts believe that Qatar is trying to take advantage from a scenario repeated in both Tunisia and Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood, which was an active participant in revolutions, seized power.
Few weeks ago, Egyptian protesters burned the Qatari flag in front of Gulf state’s embassy in Mustafa Mahmoud Square, chanting "Down with the rule of the guide."
Protesters from different opposition parties and revolution groups shouted slogans to express their outrage about the Qatari government and the Zionist regime’s meddling in Egypt's internal affairs calling the Emir of Qatar an element of the US.
They objected to financial aids from Qatar because of Sheikh Khalifa Al Thani's close ties with the US and the Zionist regime which they feared would have undesired consequences for Egypt.
The protest was later joined by a few Sudanese who voiced their opposition to the Qatari emir’s interference in Sudan's internal affairs