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Saturday, June 10, 2017
Qatar crisis: Is Saudi Arabia supporting terror also?
ONE is a religious extremist who has issued a call for Americans to be killed and another is a former Hamas chief who has been called a “dear guest” in Qatar.
Together, they’re enough reason for seven nations to turn their backs on Qatar in an unprecedented move.
Having had enough of Qatar not toeing the line, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Libya, Yemen and the Maldives sensationally cut off ties with its wayward neighbour this week.
They accused Qatar of supporting Islamist groups, including some backed by Iran, as well as harbouring extremist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
While Qatar has no doubt supported Islamist and extremist groups, Saudi Arabia is far from innocent. Therein lies the hypocrisy.
Riyadh, the capital, has itself faced accusations of tolerating or even supporting extremists, in particular after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
And in some cases there’s evidence to suggest Saudi Arabia has supported or co-sponsored some of the same figures it has accused its own neighbour of supporting.
Among Saudi’s biggest gripes is Qatar’s support for figures such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Islamist theologian and the “unofficial ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood”.
According to non-profit policy organisation the Counter Extremism Project, the Doha-based cleric — known for his extremist rhetoric and militant fatwas and is one of Sunni Islam’s most influential scholars.
He’s been offered a leadership role within the Brotherhood but has refused and doesn’t want to limit his reach by joining any organisation that might “constrain (his) actions”.
Al-Qaradawi has been open about urging Muslims who are unable to fight jihad to financially support the mujahedeen, supported suicide bombings, and has called for the execution of Americans in Iraq, homosexuals and Jewish people.
Living in Qatar, he has acted as the public face of Hamas for more than a decade and according to the CEP has overseen Hamas’ transition from a purely terrorist organisation into a terrorist/political hybrid.”
Once called a “dear guest” in Qatar by a Qatari diplomat, Meshaal has been involved in a power struggle within the group and continues to push for “armed resistance” against Israel in its pursuit of the “liberation” of Palestine “from the river to the sea”.
THE TERROR GROUPS
Middle East expert Dr Ben Rich said the Saudi terrorism excuse was wearing thin.
He also said there is fairly strong evidence that both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have backed jabhat al-Nusra/Sham as well as other Islamist opposition actors in the Syrian conflict, many of whom are consolidated under the wider Ahrar al-Sham coalition.
In its latest reports, Qatar: Extremism and Counter-Extremism and Qatar, Money and Terror: Doha’s Dangerous Policies, the CEP said Qatar gives financial and material support to internationally-designated terrorist groups such as Hamas and the Nusra Front.
“Qatar is also currently harbouring at least 12 sanction-designated or wanted individuals, including former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Yusuf al-Qaradawi,” the CEP said.
The CEP said Qatar “knowingly permits internationally-designated or wanted terrorist leaders and financiers to operate within its borders” and in doing so undermined regional and international security.
“The Qatari government has lent support to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Nusra Front, and the Taliban — through direct money loans, ransom payments, and the transfer of supplies,” the CEP said.
Three UN sanctioned Taliban operatives and at least seven al-Qaeda financiers are also understood to be living in the country.
Saudi Arabia on Friday issued a Qatar-linked ‘terrorism’ list, which it claims show its neighbour isn’t doing enough to stop terrorism in the region.
The list contains at least two names already designated internationally as terrorist financiers, and against whom Qatar took action, according to a previous US Department of State report.
Those two, Sa’d al-Ka’bi and Abd al-Latif al-Kawari, are among dozens of individuals and entities named by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain.
“The four countries agreed on categorising 59 persons and 12 entities in their list of terrorism,” they said, affirming “that they won’t be lenient in pursuing” such persons and groups.
But along with Qataris, many on the list are individuals and groups from Egypt, Bahrain and Libya.
It could also be argued that Qatar has been taking some steps to eradiate terrorism.
In its latest Country Reports on Terrorism, the US State Department said Qatar in 2015 froze assets and imposed travel bans on Ka’bi and Kawari, both of whom are Qatari citizens.
“Despite these efforts, entities and individuals within Qatar continue to serve as a source of financial support for terrorist and violent extremist groups, particularly regional Al-Qaeda affiliates such as the Nusrah Front,” the State Department said.
“Qatar has made efforts to prosecute significant terrorist financiers.”