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Spat with Qatar fraught with serious fall-out

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Laaska news  Dec. 27, 2011

Vladimir Titorenko. © Collage: The Voice of Russia  

Russia is demanding an explanation and an apology in connection with a serious diplomatic incident in Qatar. Its Ambassador to that Gulf country Vladimir Titorenko is in an Emirates hospital with eye and head injuries after being seriously beaten up by security guards at Doha Airport for refusing to surrender a briefcase with diplomatic mail for inspection

. In the wake of the incident, a Qatari paper published an article with a warning to Russia to be more receptive to messages from rampaging mobs in the ‘Arab Street’ or face attacks on its Embassies in the Arab world. So is plain Islamic radicalism at work?

The answer is ‘no’. There is evidence to suggest that other forces are also at play. According to Mr Titorenko, the guards that beat him were taking orders from a man of Caucasian appearance. Airport officials in Qatar said at the time they had received instructions to inspect the briefcase from Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim. This man has vast economic interests in the UK and also in the United States, which keeps an important naval base in Qatar.

The Voice of Russia has an opinion from Ambassador Titorenko himself:

“No incident of this kind takes place accidentally. It was clear from the outset that the perpetrators were acting out a scenario masterminded by certain anti-Russian forces in Qatar and abroad. Over the past 3 years or so, Russia and Qatar have been quickly moving closer together in the energy sector. Last November, mammoth joint projects were agreed upon. I suspect this was not to the liking of American and British oil and gas companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell. They are not happy to face competition from counterparts in Russia.”

According to Mr Titorenko, one of the projects that the Western oil and gas giants would have derailed is a multibillion Russian-Qatari LNG plant on the Yamal Peninsula in the Arctic belt of Western Siberia.

Russian political analyst Dr Yelena Melkumian points out that the Gulf states other than Qatar are quite positive about building economic ties with Russia:

“At a recent meeting in the United Arab Emirates, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his counterparts in the Gulf Cooperation Council signed an agreement to start what they called a strategic dialogue. On the whole, the Gulf nations are looking forward to mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia.”

In the meantime, pending the requested explanation and apology, Russia’s diplomatic ties with Qatar are to stay low-level

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VOR.
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