Emir of Qatar favors Arab troops in Syria
he emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, says that Arab troops should be deployed to Syria to stop the killing there that, so far, has claimed the lives of some 5,000 Syrians since unrest began in the country nearly a year ago. The leader of Qatar speaks to Bob Simon for a “60 Minutes” interview to be broadcast Sunday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Simon asks: “Would you be in favor of Arab nations intervening in Syria?” The emir, the first Arab leader to publically suggest sending troops answers, “For such a situation to stop the killing…some troops should go to stop the killing.”
It is a dramatic turnaround for the emir who describes himself as a “friend” of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. But after trying and failing to convince the Syrian president to halt the killing, the emir has become one of his harshest critics.
The emir has emerged as the most influential leader in the Arab world following the chaos, violence and killings that have rocked the Middle East for the past year. Many observers say that the emir himself bears some responsibility for the Arab revolutions because of the 24-hour Arabic language satellite news channel he created called Al Jazeera. They say that Al Jazeera’s coverage of news in the Middle East is the engine that drives the widespread unrest that has shaken the region known as the “Arab Spring.”
Since it went on the air 15 years ago, Al Jazeera has been controversial. From the beginning it upset the autocratic rulers in neighboring countries. The emir tells Simon: “[Al Jazeera] caused us a lot of problems with the top people in the Arab countries,” but he stops short of saying the news channel was directly responsible for the overthrow of dictators like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi.