BERLIN - Qatar on Tuesday rejected criticism that it risked destabilizing the Middle East by supporting rebels in Syria or the Muslim Brotherhood and said it was helping people but did not interfere in governments.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has accused Arab states who are arming and sheltering rebel fighters of actions that could "create a domino effect throughout the Middle East and beyond", with Saudi Arabia and Qatar clearly in mind.
"Assad is not completely right," Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani told a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after talks in Berlin.
Qatar had tried to convince Damascus early in the uprising to consider reforms but met "obstruction by Assad and the belief that there could only be a military solution", the sheikh said, speaking in Arabic through a German interpreter.
"Our goal is to help the Syrian people realize their wishes and aspirations," he said, adding that Merkel had echoed this view in their detailed discussion of the two-year-old conflict in which the United Nations estimates 70,000 people have died.
Merkel said Assad had lost his legitimacy and was "not open at the moment to a political solution. This defines Germany's course and in this sense we are working together with Qatar."