Wednesday,20 March, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1352, (13 - 19 July 2017)
Wednesday,20 March, 2019
Issue 1352, (13 - 19 July 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Qatar — the terrorist haven

The Qatari regime has been behaving like the havens that harboured pirates in the Caribbean centuries ago, and it must look forward to a similar fate, writes Hany Ghoraba

In the 17th and 18th-century Caribbean, some ports were controlled by pirates and buccaneers of the Spanish Main and turned into safe havens for pirates from elsewhere. Among these ports were Tortuga, Barataria Bay and Port Royal where wanted pirates found the safety to enable them to repair their ships, sell their loot, and divide up their plunder away from the eyes of the British, French, Dutch and Spanish fleets that were roaming the seas in search of the pirate ships in order to capture or sink them.

The Golden Age of piracy lasted for about two centuries, during which time these safe havens became prosperous ports in the Caribbean. It seems today that history may be repeating itself, as the most pressing issue of the hour is terrorism and just like the pirate havens of long ago there are now terrorist havens where terrorists, especially Islamist ones, can find shelter, protection and financing for their vile activities.

The most notorious terrorist haven in the world today is undoubtedly the rogue state of Qatar where many of the world’s terrorist groups had or have links, offices and financial resources provided through Qatari government-affiliated banks and propagated by the Islamist propaganda machine the Al-Jazeera television network.

Last Friday, a vile terrorist attack on a security outpost in the Egyptian city of Rafah resulted in the killing and injuring of some 26 special forces soldiers who had stood their ground during the attack and managed to kill 40 terrorists. This treacherous attack was not the first to take place in Sinai, and like earlier ones it has led to Egypt and its allies in the region to point the finger at the involvement of the Qatari regime in terrorist activities in Egypt and other countries in the region since the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011.  

Terrorist attacks financed by Qatar have become more common since the 30 June Revolution in Egypt. The Qatari government is still defying most of the rest of the world and its Arab neighbours by blatantly harbouring wanted terrorists who are on the blacklists of Interpol along with many national security agencies. However, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated regime is defying such pressures and has been continuing its blatant financing of terrorist organisations in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the UAE.

The blind support of the Qatari regime for the Muslim Brotherhood group stems from the fact that Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and his family were religiously tutored by none other than the Egyptian-born Qatari radical Sheikh Youssef Al-Qaradawi who is regarded as an influential Muslim Brotherhood scholar. Since the rise of the radical spiritual leader of Iran Ayatollah Khomeini to power in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, hardly any other radical cleric has had the same influence as that exercised by Al-Qaradawi. He sought shelter and political asylum in Qatar in 1961 after being convicted in Egypt of inciting terrorism, and he has since played an integral role in the spread of Islamism across the region.

Al-Qaradawi , who can be nicknamed the “Arab Rasputin” because of his influence over the ruling Al-Thani family in Qatar, persuading it to adopt the twisted beliefs of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been instrumental in turning the Al-Thani family into a blatant political supporter and financier of Brotherhood activities in the region. For nearly two decades, Al-Qaradawi has managed through his weekly broadcast on Al-Jazeera, Al-Sharia wal-Hayah (Life and Islamic Law), to spread the doctrines of the Brotherhood. The 90-year-old scholar today remains one of the most dangerous and influential Islamists in the world, and he has incited violence across the region, even issuing fatwas (Islamic legal rulings) calling for the killing of the region’s rulers.

The Egyptian authorities are urged to file an international lawsuit against Qatari regime figures for aiding in the committing of war crimes and terrorist activities. Qatar should be made to pay reparations to Egypt and other countries in which Qatari intelligence has bankrolled terrorism activities, such as Libya, Syria and Iraq. The Qataris have also orchestrated attempts to overthrow the regimes of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

These countries now possess evidence that should be presented to the United Nations and the International Criminal Court in order that these bodies can thoroughly investigate the involvement of the Qatari intelligence services in terrorism activities.


UNSEEN ENEMIES: In traditional wars, there is usually a clear sense of the combatants as the belligerents are usually easily identifiable. However, in the war against terrorism, battles are marred by treachery and acts of cowardice that are endorsed by regimes such as the one in Qatar.

The Qatari ruling house does not seem to lose any sleep over the hundreds of thousands of casualties it has caused across the Middle East over the past decade as a result of its activities, with millions more being displaced or into forced migration. It certainly does not care about the brave Egyptian soldiers who paid with their lives to defend Egypt’s borders from the raids of Islamic State (IS) group-affiliated terrorists.

It is time for this regime to face international condemnation and for its rulers to be placed on the international watch list of criminals for their role in supporting, financing and propagating terrorist activities that have led to the demise of countless people across the world. 

The newly formed Axis of Terror comprised of the Turkish, Qatari and Iranian regimes will not hold for long. Despite their recklessness and hostility, the Turkish and Iranian regimes do not want to be involved in a major conflict in which they will gain nothing but will face economic sanctions and more international condemnation.

Forming an Axis of Terror against the Quartet alliance of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain will not reap them any long-term rewards, especially for the Turks who cannot risk their strong economic ties with the aforementioned countries. Should an economic boycott go into effect as a result of Turkey’s support for the Qataris, the country will lose billions of dollars in export contracts and projects. Similarly, Iran, despite being a menace in the region, will prefer to avoid direct military confrontations as a result of its losses in the Iraq-Iran War in the 1980s.  

The Qatari regime still believes that it can bluff its way out of an increasingly tense situation by calling upon the involvement of both the Turkish and Iranian pariah regimes. In so doing, it is stamping itself with the mark of terrorism by calling upon these terrorist-supporting regimes for assistance. There are also tight limits on what these two countries can do in supporting Qatar, presumably stopping at emergency logistical or economic assistance, since neither the Turkish nor the Iranian regime is likely to want to enter a full-scale conflict with regional giants such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia to protect the ailing Qatari regime.

The media war that the Qatari regime is waging in a desperate attempt to save its skin and lift the blockade against it will not reap fruitful results. The joint declaration by the blockading countries and their renewed ultimatum to the Qatari regime on 5 July only confirmed that the Middle Eastern powers are resolute about ending the Qatari’s regime tomfoolery and attempts at destabilisation of the region. The latter has already paid a hefty price for such megalomaniacal actions, including the peaceful people of Qatar itself who have found themselves in the crossfire as a result of their government’s vainglory and greed.

Similar to the Caribbean pirate havens of the 17th and 18th centuries, Qatar is flourishing in terms of money and prosperity, but if history is any guide those same pirates who once lived like kings in pirate havens eventually met their doom. The terrorists that Qatar is harbouring are unlikely to meet a different fate.

The writer is a political analyst and the author of Egypt’s Arab Spring and the Winding Road to Democracy.

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