A western intelligence report showing Qatar knew in advance of Iranian plans to attack four ships off the coast of the UAE could have “devastating” legal implications for Doha, an international relations expert said.

Ghanem Nuseibeh, founder of London-based consultancy Cornerstone Global Associates, also told The National the intelligence report, which detailed how Qatar failed to warn its western allies of the May attack, showed Doha is “clearly not a trusted ally” of the West.

“The western intelligence is very serious and has very serious implications for Qatar,” Mr Nuseibeh said. “It could not have come at a worse time for Qatar, coming after a serious of allegations of Qatar’s associations with Islamist extremists around the world. If proven, those allegations could have devastating legal implications against Qatar on all political, economic and military levels,” he added.

The report, obtained by the US outlet Fox News, detailed how the international wing of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Quds Force, targeted two Saudi tankers, a Norwegian tanker and a UAE vessel near the port of Fujairah on May 12. The attack came amid rising tension between the United States and Iran over US sanctions seeking to block Iranian oil exports.

“Elements of civilian government of Iran, as well as the State of Qatar, were aware of the IRGC’s activities,” the report said.

French and British politicians have raised alarm over Qatar’s failure to alert its Western allies. French Senator Nathalie Goulet has said she would be sending the report on to France’s security department and its minister of defence.

British member of parliament Ian Paisley Jr, now campaigning for re-election, has said he intends to call on the UK government on the investigate the claims made in the report.

However, former UK government minister Alan Duncan told The National other politicians were unlikely to follow Mr Paisely’s lead on the issue concerning Qatar and declined to comment further on the matter.

Sanam Vakil, a senior research fellow for the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House, said she was surprised by the report, if it was true, adding that it was “strange” given Qatar’s need not to appear too close to Iran.

“The Iranians are quite pragmatic and realise that Qatar can’t overly embrace Iran. They understand that. The Qataris don’t want to emerge from this crisis as part of the axis of resistance,” she explained. “Being seen to be too close to Iran is not in Qatar’s interest either.”

Security adviser at the Security Studies Group think tank, David Reaboi said: “It’s no surprise to see Qatar play both sides – the United States and Iran – but it’s unusual for a state like this to be as ideological as Qatar.

Source » thenational