Qatar says it’s the victim of ‘terror smear campaign’

Qatar said it had been deliberately targeted ahead of Trump’s visit to the region

Qatar says it’s the subject of an ‘orchestrated campaign’ to tarnish the image of the emirate, following a series of negative articles in the lead-up to Trump’s Saudi Arabia visit.

Qatar has said it is the victim of an orchestrated smear campaign in sections of the media over its alleged “support” for terrorism, a claim Doha denounced as a “lie” on Sunday.

In a strongly worded statement from Doha’s government communications office, Qatar said it had been deliberately targeted ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to the region, which began on Saturday.

“In the run-up to Donald Trump’s trip to the Middle East, an orchestrated barrage of opinion pieces by anti-Qatar organisations in a variety of mainstream and online publications has alleged that Qatar is sympathetic to, or turns a blind eye toward the actions of terrorist groups in the Middle East,” read the statement. “This is absolutely and unequivocally false.”

The statement added that any “allegation that Qatar supports terrorism is a lie”.

It gave no examples of any articles it was referring to, nor any of the “anti-Qatar organisations”.

But the statement said, however, that one day those responsible for the “anti-Qatar” campaign might be unmasked.

“When that happens we will, perhaps, learn the true motive behind their efforts to damage Qatar’s good name.”

Qatar is a member of the US-led coalition to defeat the Islamic State group, the statement said.

The Gulf state is also home to the al-Udeid airbase, where the US conducts all coalition air operations for the region.

Additionally, officials are working to support education, reconstruction and economic development programmes throughout the Middle East.

Doha has long faced accusations that it is a state sponsor of terror.

It has faced criticism in some quarters for its support of rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Qatari individuals have also been sanctioned by the US Treasury for terror-funding activities.

In recent weeks, Qatar has been accused outright of terror funding in articles which have appeared in the American media.

It was also criticised for providing a sanctuary to former Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal, who earlier this month used his Doha base, where he has lived in exile for several years, to launch a new policy document.

The Afghan Taliban also opened an office in Doha in 2013, which were to be used in peace talks with the Kabul government.