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Middle East

The Taliban’s life of luxury in Qatar

A Taliban delegation in Doha, 2019. Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

The tiny Middle Eastern country of Qatar “fawns over the Taliban”. It’s high time we stood up to this “autocratic state”, says Michael Crick in Mail+. Encouraged by the US, the emir of Qatar rolled out the red carpet for the Taliban’s leaders in 2013. Ever since, says one Afghan businessman in the country, they have ridden around the capital, Doha, “in big fancy cars, wearing expensive sunglasses”, and enjoyed having food delivery vans arrive at their residences, providing “whatever they might need”. For Qatar to facilitate peace talks is one thing, but “sucking up to one of the most murderous political groups in modern history is quite another”. Its leaders are reviled in the region for their alleged links with Isis and Hezbollah, and around the world for their “abuse of foreign workers” and their ban on homosexuality.

Yet the British government is conspicuous by its silence. Perhaps that’s because we are the one of the main exporters to Qatar, have an RAF base there and benefit from multibillion-pound defence contracts. Next year’s football World Cup in Qatar will put the country under more scrutiny. Poorly paid foreigners have been forced to build facilities for the tournament, with Nepalese workers dying at the rate of almost one a day in 2013. The England team should not play there. And we fans should boycott the tournament and even “refuse to watch it on TV”.