Saudi Arabia-UAE 'planned' military coup in Qatar in 1996

Saudi Arabia-UAE 'planned' military coup in Qatar in 1996
States currently blockading Qatar planned a similar invasion of the Gulf state in 1996, it has been alleged.
2 min read
19 December, 2018
Gulf states planned an invasion of Qatar [Getty]
Qatar was almost subject to a military takeover just over a decade ago by Arab states currently blockading it, a former French officer has said.

Paul Barril told Al Jazeera that a plot was hatched by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt to overthrow the government in Doha in 1996, countries which are currently blockading Qatar.

The military coup - dubbed Operation Abu Ali - was foiled shortly after Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was made emir, and steered Qatar on a more independent foreign and domestic policy, after decades of influence from Saudi Arabia.

Barril was in command of a team of 40 highly-trained soldiers who would aid in the military takeover, which was reportedly led by former police chief Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, according to the broadcaster.

The UAE played a key role in the attempted coup with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan - then commander-in-chief of the Emirati armed forces - allegedly the mastermind of the operation.

The foreign mercenaries were hosted at Abu Dhabi's InterContinental Hotel, given UAE passports and deployed to Bahrain to prepare for the operation.

They would be aided by exiled Qatari officers from Bahrain, 3,000 Chadian troops, armed Saudi tribes, with weapons were sent to Egypt for the team.

Barril said he scouted the targets in Doha, with photos from broadcast on Al Jazeera, and was ordered to arrest leading royals when the $100 million Operation Abu Ali took place.

The operation was cancelled after former French President Jacques Chirac found out about the plan and instructed Barril to stop any "foolishness".

Qatar has been under blockade by a Saudi-led coalition since June 2017, when was the Gulf state was accused of sponsoring terrorism - charges Doha strongly denies.

Intelligence sources told The Intercept that a joint Saudi-UAE plan was hatched to invade Qatar following the blockade.

Turkish troops were dispatched to Qatar following the announcement of a blockade.