The duplicity of Qatar was first exposed in secret conversations recorded in the late 1990s that exposed Qatar’s cloak-and-dagger behaviour and intent to weaken Saudi Arabia in a strategy that sought to combine groundless revenge with far-fetched ambition. The conversations between Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi, Qatar’s former Emir Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, and former Prime Minister Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem Al Thani reveal plans to divide Saudi Arabia into three countries.
In this leaked conversation, Hamad Bin Jasem told Gaddafi that Qatar signed an agreement with Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defence at the time, in order to confront Saudi Arabia. “We agreed to the plan because Saudi Arabia conspired with Egypt and other countries against us and plotted a coup that almost succeeded but failed because we stood firm. The Americans assisted us and presented an official warning to Saudi Arabia to leave us alone. Afterwards, we did not feel at ease and felt that we needed a force that would deter them (Saudis).”
Rather than trying to strengthen international relations, Qatar’s political deficiency and inferiority complex move it towards confrontation with the GCC by challenging Saudi Arabia for the title of the leader of the Arab Nations.
Two overarching goals have driven Qatari policy. One has been to maximize Qatar’s influence on the regional and international stage. This originally reflected the personal ambition of the former ruler and current emir’s father, Shaykh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, and his foreign minister and eventual prime minister, Shaykh Hamad bin Jassim al Thani. The two men directed foreign policy until the father abdicated in favour of his son, Emir Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, in July 2013.
The second objective has been to preserve the security of the ruling family and state. Hosting a major US military in its military base near Doha since 2001 has provided existential security for Qatar. Supporting Islamists, from the Muslim Brotherhood to Salafi groups, has served as a power amplifier for the country, especially vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia.
Politics in Qatar are reserved for an elite circle of ruling family members and their appointees. An elected municipal council advises on local services, but the establishment of a semi-elected assembly, called for in the new 2004 constitution, has been delayed multiple times. Political parties and associations are forbidden. The most remote forms of political expression by Qataris with regard to their own government are not tolerated and punished cruelly.
In Qatar, Islamist activism does not exist. The Islamist politics that Doha has championed in the Gulf and neighbouring regions are illegal in Qatar. This wealthy state still allows private fundraising for Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other radical organisations. In some cases, the Al-Thani family’s Emirate encourages the private financing of extremist groups by inviting their prominent supporters to speak in Qatar. By outsourcing its foreign policy to middlemen who fundraise for and finance the Syrian opposition, Qatar removes the liability of directly meddling in Syrian affairs. Allowing local fundraising for groups operating in Syria and Iraq also helps to direct Qatari citizens’ political inclinations outside the country and bolster the government’s so-called Islamist credentials both at home and abroad.
There has been constant support among the Al–Thani royal family for radical Islamist groups, including ISIS’s predecessor network and Al Qaeda. One royal family member, Abdul Karim al Thani, operated a safe house for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who eventually established and led AQI (al-Qaeda in Iraq), when he was travelling between Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000s. Abdul Karim also provided Qatari passports and more than one million dollars to finance Zarqawi’s network. On October 28, 2002; Laurence Foley, an American diplomat, was killed in Amman, Jordan on the orders of Zarqawi. The subsequent U.S. investigation uncovered the role of the Al-Thani royals in supporting terrorists.
Another royal family member, Shaykh Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, who held top ministerial posts over a period of two decades through mid-2013, sheltered on his farm other al-Qaeda members, including Khalid Shaykh Mohammad, and welcomed Osama bin Laden there twice, according to a U.S. Congressional Research Service report. Khalid Shaykh Mohammad eventually became the mastermind behind September 11, 2001 attack on USA.
Regardless of its economic and military incentives, Qatar has long challenged international security interests, sustaining Hamas and other terrorist groups. It is time that Qatar is designated as a State sponsor of terror, as has been done for other nations that have repeatedly provided support to terrorist’ organisations.
Foremost are Qatar’s ties to Hamas, an internationally designated terrorist group that avows Israel’s destruction. As one of Hamas’s largest funders, Qatar has provided the terrorist organization more than $1.1 billion since 2012. While Qatar often justifies its funding as humanitarian, the course of its funding, as well as the current emir’s statements, suggest different true motives.
Qatar’s emir has refused to regard Hamas as a terrorist organisation and has supported Hamas on the record. During a media interview, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani proclaimed, “Qatar supports ‘all Palestinian people. We believe Hamas is a very important part of the Palestinian people.” Considering its support for Hamas, Qatar has often digressed from its supposed humanitarian cause, having explicitly funded the Hamas hierarchy. In reality, Qatar has been funding Hamas as recently as 2021, and has a long track record of sponsoring Hamas employees and the cash flow necessary to sustain Hamas’s bureaucracy and foundation.
The Qatari government has empowered and endorsed Hamas’s agenda by publishing full-blown Hamas conferences and speeches on its state-owned, state-funded network: Al-Jazeera. All one to do to verify this, is to search Al-Jazeera Mubasher (Al-Jazeera Live), a YouTube channel through which Al-Jazeera has streamed coverage of Hamas conferences and speeches.
Qatar has also provided safe-haven and funding for other organisations classified as terrorist organisations, either in UN or internationally. The Muslim Brotherhood, designated as a terrorist organisation by Bahrain, Egypt, Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE has received more than $1 billion from the Qatari government.
Qatar has also given safe haven to high-ranking members of the Afghani Taliban and sponsored Ahrar al-Sham, a Syrian, Salafist militia that has previously fought alongside the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusrah. Qatar’s major international charity, the Qatar Charitable Society (now known as the Qatar Charity) has acted as a financier and agency for terrorist outfits in several countries. It has funded al-Qaeda in Chechnya, Mali and elsewhere, was a key player in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and funded Syria’s Ahfad al-Rasul Brigade. Qatar has also financed terrorists in northern Mali operations, including Ansar Dine, alleged to be linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb [North Africa]; and it retains contacts with (and no doubt still funds) al-Qaeda.
Qatar’s ties to terrorism are long-established. By harbouring and bankrolling some of the world’s most notorious terrorist groups, Qatar has become, by any reasonable definition, a state-sponsor of terrorism.
Given Qatar’s economic and political clout, created by its sovereign wealth fund, its oil, and its ownership of the world’s third largest natural gas reserves, Qatar plays a role on the world stage and does much to enhance its public image. Qatar boasts the world’s second-largest gross domestic product per capita. The wealthy oil emirate operates Qatar Airways, one of the world’s largest airline. It hosts one of the world’s most influential state-sponsored news sources, Al Jazeera, and maintains significant influence in higher American education, donating more than $1.5 billion to some of America’s most well-known universities: University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina, Northwestern, Texas A&M, and Cornell.
In other spheres, Qatar is the single largest donor to the Brookings Institution, a major U.S. think tank that drives American foreign policy. Payments included $14.8 million after the former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, blamed Israel for the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks; and it has given money to many universities in the U.S. and Europe. Qatar also hosts eight international university campuses near Doha (Virginia Commonwealth, Weill Cornell, Texas A&M, Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, Northwestern, HEC Paris, University College London, Calgary), and finances the RAND Policy Trust, another think-tank that influences U.S foreign policy. It owns expensive properties in London, the Barcelona Football Club, and dabbles in other areas worldwide.
While all this increases Qatar’s influence, most of it seems to be for show, in order to present a friendly face to the world. Qatar is not all gleaming towers, bars for non-Muslims, and a modern approach to social interactions. It remains the only other Wahhabi country in the world after Saudi Arabia. The problem here is the ‘Qatar paradox’. Although outwardly more liberal than the Saudis, the Qataris have surpassed them as financiers of extremism and terrorism. Just like the Saudis, it is traditional, devoted to a highly conservative form of Islam, and a full commitment to Islamic values.
Four branches of the Qatari government handle relations with the terrorist. These are the Foreign and Defence Ministries, the Intelligence Agency, and the personal office [al-Diwan al-Amiri], of the Emir of Qatar, who, as we have seen, flatly denies financing terrorism. Of course, Qatar does nothing directly. It prefers to use middlemen and to permit private individuals to do its dirty work.
Interestingly, leaders of Western nations threatened by these jihadist groups are happy to sit down with the largest financiers of terrorism in the world, offer them help, take as much money as they can, and smile for the cameras. They then sell to their public the crumbs from oil-rich monarchs who watch, wreathed in smiles, as the West shamelessly indulges itself in greed and has a total lack of concern for any human rights issues that this sheikhdom abuses in almost everything it does. The Qataris have money, they have power and influence, and they have an abiding love for fundamentalist Islam. They know what they are doing and they use their money to build political influence and strategic networks with the people in power in the West. Money talks, and in supine Western countries just coming out of a major recession, it talks very loudly.
Qatar is an equal opportunity terrorism supporter, which means that they support both Sunni and Shi’a terrorists. No other country is this prolific in its support to violent movements around the world. “Qatar’s security strategy has been to provide support to a wide range of regional and international groups in order to bolster its position at home and abroad.”
In addition to this is its motivation to be powerful and influential in countries that give it protection. Case in point is the U.S. Central Command’s Al-Udeid Air Base; which is the largest US military base outside continental USA, and home to 10,000 American soldiers and 120 different types of war planes. Since 2001, the U.S. Military has invested over $ 1 billion in modernizing the base facilities. Apart from the U.S, this air base also hosts the UK’s Royal Airforce squadrons. Basically, Qatar offers the Western militaries their permanent forward operating bases in return for international political protection. Another reason that both USA and UK are unwilling to censure Qatar is because it has provided funding to a variety of key politicians in the United States, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who received $1 million via the Clinton Foundation.
The UK has also benefited financially from Qatar’s huge investments in that country. Qatar buys London property while working against British interests across the world and funding the jihadists. Qatar partly owns 1 Hyde Park, London’s most expensive apartment block, and the Shard, the city’s tallest building. Qatari investors own more property in London UK, than the Mayor of London’s office and three times more than the Queen of England.
The following is a list of groups that Qatar supports with money, weapons, and other material support:
- ISIS (in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Turkey, Egypt, and elsewhere in the world)
- Numerous terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq who hold the same ideology as ISIS but are smaller in size
- Houthis in Yemen (Shi’a militants)
- The Taliban (in Afghanistan–Also the Taliban was permitted to set up an official office in Doha)
- The Muslim Brotherhood (worldwide)
- Iranian militias (Shi’a)
Al Jazeera: A Propaganda Machine Masquerading as a News Network
Al Jazeera (“AJ”), the Doha based news network, is no stranger to controversy. They have been banned by multiple countries, and have received sanctions and/or faced legal challenges in others. From the Middle East to South Asia, the allegations range from indirectly spreading the supremacist ideology of Muslim Brotherhood (“Muslim Brotherhood controls Al Jazeera, says former Qatari PM in new leaked recording”, Al Arabiya, 23 June 2020) on the one hand, to outright acting as spokespersons for terrorist organizations on the other (“Al Jazeera continues to provide a platform to bigoted and violent extremists”, Arab News 26 May 2020).
Since the onset of the months-long diplomatic crisis between Qatar and a Saudi-led coalition of Gulf Arab states in 2017, the pan-Arab broadcaster has been on the defensive, deflecting accusations by Qatar’s detractors in the Gulf that the Doha-based news network is guilty of inciting violence.
Jordan and Saudi Arabia have already shuttered local Al Jazeera offices, and both the channel and its affiliated websites have been blocked in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain. They are also accused of duplicity, using pro-human rights language in their English outlets while using their Arabic language outlets for spreading radical ideologies and anti-Semitic propaganda.
Al-Jazeera is one of the most dangerous organisations in the world today. This organisation is committed to weakening democracies across the world, and they are doing it under the cloak of ordinary journalism. As a mouthpiece for Qatari Islamist ideals, Al Jazeera’s strength lies it in the adaptability of its sensationalism; each branch displays a unique approach to distorting news, disseminating propaganda, and boosting anti-Semitic and anti-American feeling on a daily basis. While Al Jazeera Arabic appeals to the Islamist hard Right in the Muslim world, Al Jazeera English encourages reasonable Centre-Left viewers in the West to adopt anti-Semitic and anti-American ideas, pitching anti-Semitism and hatred for America across the political gamut. They have now found a new target in India,a country that they can neither buy in bulk, nor influence politically.
Twenty-two years after its establishment, Al Jazeera has penetrated media and online information markets around the globe. With bureaus across the globe, broadcasts in several languages, multiple well-maintained, widely-followed and polished social media accounts and websites, investigative documentary film series, and even podcasts, Al Jazeera—and through it, the Qatari regime—has become a propaganda force with which to be reckoned.
Defeating Qatar’s actions against India will require a three-pronged effort. The 1st will be to declare Qatar as a terrorism sponsor nation. The 2nd will be to cut-off all ties; diplomatic, economic and trade with Qatar; and the 3rd will be to ensure that world is constantly reminded of Qatar’s duplicity in every international forum that India participates in. What the Al-Thani family desires glory, fame and influence. Deny these, and it will be reminded of its reality; that they are nothing more than cunning, lazy, illiterates whose forefathers use to wander the desert on camels and graze sheep, a life that they will have to return to when the world’s dependency on oil and LNG is comes to an end.
(The article was published on Organiser.org on November 07, 2023 and has been reproduced here)