Sunday,23 July, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1349, (15 - 21 June 2017)
Sunday,23 July, 2017
Issue 1349, (15 - 21 June 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Qatar, Arab national security threat

The current crisis around Qatar was a long time coming and will not be resolved gently, writes Mohamed El-Said Idris

Qatar, Arab national security threat
Qatar, Arab national security threat

The Qatari revolt against the established principles of mutual relations within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), as manifested in its actions following the US president’s visit to Riyadh and the summit meetings in which Qatar also took part, did not come out of the blue. It has deep roots that have expressed themselves on numerous occasions as the result of a number of economic, political and security-related obsessions that Qatar has with respect to the other GCC countries and Saudi Arabia and Bahrain above all. Its disputes with fellow GCC members extended to the UAE, as occurred in the 2013 crisis, which continued to seethe until 2014, culminating in an important resolution that was set down in the Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini joint foreign ministerial declaration of 5 March 2014 in accordance with which these countries recalled their ambassadors from Doha. Occurring just three months after an agreement signed between Riyadh and Doha in the presence of the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, the 5 March 2014 action marked a major precedent in GCC relations at this level.

In its explanation as to why these countries had decided to recall their ambassadors, the tripartite ministerial declaration stated that the GCC had exerted immense efforts to communicate with Qatar at all levels in the hope of reaching an agreement on a mode of behaviour that would make it possible to proceed within a unified political framework for GCC countries based on the principles laid out in the GCC charter and the agreements signed between state parties, including security agreements. Chief among the principles upheld in these documents are non-intervention directly or indirectly in the domestic affairs of any member of the GCC; the need to refrain from support of any individuals or organisations that work to threaten the security and stability of GCC states, whether by means of direct security sabotage or through political influence; and the cessation of all support for hostile media.

Qatar did not abide by any of these commitments to which it had pledged itself when signing what has become known as the Riyadh Agreement of 23 November 2013. This is why the three countries moved to recall their ambassadors in March 2014, an action that Riyadh followed through on with a strong package of measures which included a decree that entered the Muslim Brotherhood and other jihadist and takfiri groups into the list of terrorist organisations. This aggravated the crisis with Qatar which may have relinquished its support for terrorism and terrorist groups in GCC countries but which had expanded and deepened its involvement with such groups in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Egypt, whether through direct material support by means of funding, arms and intelligence or through moral and political support by means of the Qatari media apparatus. Qatar paraded such measures beneath the misleading banner of “support for the jihad and jihadist organisations” within the framework of the role incumbent on Qatar in face of the so-called “Arab Spring” scheme.

The Qatari role has been most pronounced and extensive in its support for the Muslim Brotherhood coup against the 25 January Revolution in Egypt. Qatar was crucial to the process of Muslim Brotherhood “empowerment” in Egypt. By promoting this organisation’s success in hijacking the revolution and imposing its rule over the country, Qatar hoped to secure an influential and strategically situated platform for the pursuit of the designs to create a crescent of Muslim Brotherhood rule stretching from Syria through Jordan and Egypt to Libya. Qatar believed that through its alliance with Turkey it would be able to ensure the success of these designs. However, the Egyptian grassroots uprising on 30 June 2013 put paid to such schemes, sparking a delirious and implacable fury in Ankara and Doha against Egypt, against the people’s revolution against Muslim Brotherhood rule and against the army that stepped in to support the people. At this point, Qatar with Turkish support launched a new scheme, which was to undermine the 30 June Revolution and to force the reinstatement of Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt.

Qatar based its anti-30 June discourse on two false premises and their corollaries. The first held that the revolution was a “coup against legitimacy” that had to be reversed through the reinstatement of the dismissed president Mohammed Morsi, the release of Muslim Brotherhood leaders whom it termed “political detainees”, reversion to the 2012 constitution, the reinstatement of the dissolved People’s Assembly and the end to the “roadmap” that had been announced by Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi in his capacity, at the time, of commander-general of the Egyptian Armed Forces and that was approved by the people in a referendum on 3 July 2013 that took the form of a march in which Egyptians in their millions rallied in the country’s central squares to reiterate their resolve in their revolution and to appeal to the army to intervene to safeguard Egypt and its people. On 26 July 2013, the people would stage another millions-strong march to give the army a mandate to protect the country from terrorism.

The second falsehood entailed portraying Egypt as gripped by a “power crisis” that jeopardised regional and international peace and security and therefore necessitated outside intervention. The purpose was to generate conditions of chaos and reproduce the Syrian crisis in Egypt. 

It was on the basis of these two premises that Qatar increased its support for the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and offered shelter to Brotherhood leaders in Qatar so that they could continue to conspire against Egypt in collusion with terrorist organisations in Sinai affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) and with IS-related cells elsewhere in Egypt. Qatar simultaneously funded terrorist groups and activities in Libya, steering some of these in the direction of Egypt with the purpose of undermining Egyptian security. However, more dangerous yet, at present, is the support Qatar is lending to promote the linkage (or fusion) between Al-Qaeda and IS groups in Libya with an eye to turning Libya into an alternative base for terrorism after the fall of IS in Iraq and Syria and to placing Egypt directly in the crosshairs as the prime terrorist target.

In turning against the resolutions of the Arab-Islamic-American Summit, resuming links with Iran and encouraging Hamas to rush back to its Iranian ally, Qatar has signalled that it is determined to become a base for the support of terrorism against Arab countries.

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