The UAE was vying to open an office for the Taliban in its territories, however the group which governed Afghanistan setup a base in Qatar instead, leaked emails from Emirati Ambassador to the US Yousef Al-Otaibi show.
The revelation, published in the New York Times today, comes at a time when the UAE has accused Qatar of supporting “Islamists” and led a boycott of the small Gulf state.
According to the leaks, Al-Otaiba got an “angry phone call” from the UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed, in which he was complaining that the Taliban office would be opened in Qatar and not in the UAE.
Diplomat Mohammed Mahmoud Al-Khaja sent an e-mail to Jeffrey Feltman, the secretary-general of the US Foreign Minister of Near Eastern affairs, in which he said: “There is an article in London Times newspaper that points out that the United States is supporting the establishment of a Taliban embassy in Doha.”
“His Highness says that we were under the impression that Abu Dhabi was your first choice, and that is what we have been informed by the UN envoy to Afghanistan.”
In a separate email dated 28 January 2012, Al-Otaiba wrote to another US official about similar complaints from Bin Zayed, this time using a different abbreviation (A.B.Z.), the initials of Abdullah Bin Zayed.
In his e-mail to the US official, whose name was not revealed, Al-Otaiba said: “I got an angry call from A.B.Z. which says why we were not informed.”
He continued: “They want to be in the middle of everything… these young people,” referring to Qataris.
According to the New York Times, representatives of the UAE embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comments on the report.
However, this week, three former US officials confirmed to the newspaper that the United Arab Emirates had originally sought to have the Taliban embassy in its territory.
US officials told the newspaper that Qatar had agreed to host the Taliban embassy as part of a broader US effort to facilitate peace talks in Afghanistan, not because of any support for Taliban or their ideology.
In an interview on PBS over the weekend, Al-Otaibi listed Qatar’s hosting of the Taliban office as a reason for the Arab boycott. “I do not think it is a coincidence that you have the leadership of Hamas, the Taliban embassy and the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood in Doha,” he said.