Qatar’s Jihad #StopQatarNow

Qatarby Brahma Chellaney:

Qatar may be tiny, but it is having a major impact across the Arab world. By propping up violent jihadists in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond, while supporting the United States in its fight against them, this gas-rich speck of a country – the world’s wealthiest in per capita terms – has transformed itself from a regional gadfly into an international rogue elephant.

Using its vast resources, and driven by unbridled ambition, Qatar has emerged as a hub for radical Islamist movements. The massive, chandeliered Grand Mosque in Doha – Qatar’s opulent capital – is a rallying point for militants heading to wage jihad in places as diverse as Yemen, Tunisia, and Syria. As a result, Qatar now rivals Saudi Arabia – another Wahhabi state with enormous resource wealth – in exporting Islamist extremism.

But there are important differences between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Qatar’s Wahhabism is less severe than Saudi Arabia’s; for example, Qatari women are allowed to drive and to travel alone. In Qatar, there is no religious police enforcing morality, even if Qatari clerics openly raise funds for militant causes overseas.

Given this, it is perhaps unsurprising that, whereas Saudi Arabia’s sclerotic leadership pursues reactionary policies rooted in a puritanical understanding of Islam, Qatar’s younger royals have adopted a forward-thinking approach. Qatar is the home of the Al Jazeera satellite television channel and Education City, a district outside of Doha that accommodates schools, universities, and research centers.

Similar inconsistencies are reflected in Qatar’s foreign policy. Indeed, the country’s relationship with the United States directly contradicts its links with radical Islamist movements.

Qatar hosts Al Udeid air base – with its 8,000 American military personnel and 120 aircraft, including supertankers for in-flight refueling – from which the US directs its current airstrikes in Syria and Iraq. Camp As-Sayliyah – another facility for which Qatar charges no rent – serves as the US Central Command’s forward headquarters. In July, Qatar agreed to purchase $11 billion worth of US arms.

Moreover, Qatar has used its leverage over the Islamists that it funds to help secure the release of Western hostages. And it hosted secret talks between the US and the Pakistan-backed Afghan Taliban. To facilitate the negotiations, Qatar provided a home, with US support, to the Taliban’s de facto diplomatic mission – and to the five Afghan Taliban leaders released earlier this year from US detention at Guantánamo Bay.

In other words, Qatar is an important US ally, a supplier of weapons and funds to Islamists, and a peace broker all at the same time. Add to that its position as the world’s largest supplier of liquefied natural gas and the holder of one of its largest sovereign-wealth funds, and it becomes clear that Qatar has plenty of room to maneuver – as well as considerable international clout. Germany’s government found that out when it was forced to retract its development minister’s statement that Qatar played a central role in arming and financing the Islamic State.

Qatar’s growing influence has important implications for the balance of power in the Arab World, especially with regard to the country’s rivalry with Saudi Arabia. This competitive dynamic, which surfaced only recently, represents a shift from a long history of working in tandem to export Islamist extremism.

Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia generously supplied weapons and funds to Sunni extremists in Syria, opening the door for the emergence of the Islamic State. Both have bolstered the Afghan Taliban. And both contributed to Libya’s transformation into a failed state by aiding Islamist militias. During the 2011 NATO campaign to overthrow Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi, Qatar even deployed ground troops covertly inside Libya.

Today, however, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are on opposite sides. Qatar, along with Turkey, backs grassroots Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots in Gaza, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, and the Levant. That pits it against Saudi Arabia and countries like the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan, whose rulers view such movements as an existential threat, with some, including the House of Saud, investing in propping up autocratic regimes like their own.

Read  more at Stagecraft and Statecraft

Brahma Chellaney, Professor of Strategic Studies at the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research, is the author of Asian Juggernaut; Water: Asia’s New Battleground; and Water, Peace, and War: Confronting the Global Water Crisis.

Ex-CIA Operative: Obama Administration ‘Missing the Picture’

 

Washington Free Beacon:

Former CIA operative Gary Berntsen said the Obama administration was “missing the picture” in its strategy to combat ISIL.

Berntsen also said President Obama is “not even talking about the partners properly on who we’re going to need to do this job.”

Berntsen told Fox News host Brian Kilmeade that the U.S. strategy should be focused on reaching out to Gulf Cooperation Council states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to commit money, air power, and ground troops.

Reaching out to Saudi Arabia, he said, would be a diplomatic challenge due to deterioration in the Saudi-U.S. relationship.

“[The Saudis] are suspicious of the United States because we were talking to the Iranians without consulting with them, about their nuclear program,” Berntsen said. “So we’re going to have to repair our relationship with Saudi Arabia.

“There is a lot of heavy lifting diplomatically that’s going to have to be done with the GCC to get them in.”

Although the BBC reported last week that Iranian military leaders were willing to cooperate with the U.S. against ISIL, Berntsen said cooperating with Shia forces would only alienate and antagonize Sunni tribal leaders further.

“You don’t want Iraqi Shia forces going into the Sunni area to fight there,” Berntsen said. “These tribesmen switched sides because they were treated so badly by the Maliki government and they supported ISIS’ entry. This is a significant political and sustained effort that’s going to be required here.”

Also see:

Qatar funding Islamist rebels in Mali

mali-rebelsMoney Jihad:

A French military intelligence source has divulged that Al Qaeda-linked rebels in Mali have received financing from Qatar.  This disturbing but predictable news comes as France attempts to pacify the Malian countryside while receiving logistical and political backing from the U.S.

There have been earlier allegations of financing Malian jihadists by Saudi Arabia as well.  This would be consistent with the flow of money from Saudi Arabia and Qatar to dissidents and rebels in countries undergoing “Arab Spring” uprisings.  The difference this time is that Western officials are on the opposite side.  Saudi and Qatari state sponsorship of enemy fighters united against France suggests a burgeoning proxy war between Nato and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

From France 24:

Is Qatar fuelling the crisis in north Mali?

Oil-rich gulf state Qatar has a vested interest in the outcome of the north Mali crisis, according to various reports that have been picked up by French MPs, amid suspicion that Doha may be siding with the rebels to extend its regional influence.

Since Islamist groups exploited a military coup in the Malian capital of Bamako in early 2012 to take control of the entire north of the country, accusations of Qatari involvement in a crisis that has seen France deploy troops have been growing.

Last week two French politicians explicitly accused Qatar of giving material support to separatists and Islamists in north Mali, adding fuel to speculation that the Emirate is playing a behind-the-scenes role in spreading Islamic fundamentalism in Africa.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and Communist Party Senator Michelle Demessine both said that that Qatar had questions to answer.

“If Qatar is objecting to France’s engagement in Mali it’s because intervention risks destroying Doha’s most fundamentalist allies,” Le Pen said in a statement on her party website, in response to a call by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani for dialogue with the Islamists. ‘Cash from Doha’

The first accusations of Qatari involvement with Tuareg separatists and Islamist groups came in a June 2012 article in respected French weekly the Canard Enchainé.

In a piece title “Our friend Qatar is financing Mali’s Islamists”, the newspaper alleged that the oil-rich Gulf state was financing the separatists.

It quoted an unnamed source in French military intelligence saying: “The MNLA [secular Tuareg separatists], al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and MUJAO [movement for unity and Jihad in West Africa] have all received cash from Doha.”

A month later Sadou Diallo, the mayor of the north Malian city of Gao [which had fallen to the Islamists] told RTL radio: “The French government knows perfectly well who is supporting these terrorists. Qatar, for example, continues to send so-called aid and food every day to the airports of Gao and Timbuktu.”

The presence of Qatari NGOs in north Mali is no secret. Last summer, in the wake of the separatist takeover, the Qatari Red Crescent was the only humanitarian organisation granted access to the vast territory.

One member of the Qatari humanitarian team told AFP at the end of June that they had simply “come to Gao to evaluate the humanitarian needs of the region in terms of water and electricity access.”

Read more

See also:

Mali: analyst, Qatar is funding Islamists (ansamed.ans.it)

The Rise of the Saudi Superstate

by Daniel Greenfield, Frontpage:

The 32nd summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council may be remembered as the dawn of the Caliphate with the Saudi proposal to accelerate the union of the six GCC States likely to dramatically change the region. The union is being described as “EU Style,” but in practice it would be a larger version of the United Arab Emirates, a federation of tribal monarchies.

The combined entity would have a 1 trillion dollar GDP and some 35 percent of the world’s oil reserves, giving it immeasurable influence on the global stage. And that nucleus of power and wealth would be used to consolidate its influence over rest of the region and the world. If the GCC integrates Yemen, it will be able to turn the Persian Gulf into the Arabian Gulf, and if it integrates Libya, Sudan and Iraq, then it will have a combined population of 100 million and be able to approach the 50 percent world oil reserves marker.

Whether or not the GCC can transition to a Muslim EU, in the words of its charter, “founded on the creed of Islam,” is still an open question. In the last five years the GCC has struggled toward adopting a common market and a common currency, its unity undercut by suspicion of the House of Saud and internal rivalries. While Article Four of the GCC Charter had always made unity into a goal of the GCC and previous Riyadh Declarations had called for consolidating their Arab and Islamic identities into a regional union, there was never enough external pressure and internal promise to make that feasible.

Iran’s nuclear program and the Arab Spring have changed all that. Saudi Arabia’s suppression of Shiite protesters in Bahrain was the first significant use of the GCC’s previously inept Peninsula Shield Force. The victory in Bahrain has kept its Sunni monarchy in power and made it dependent on Saudi backing which has also made its officials into the most enthusiastic proponents of the union.

Holding back the Arab Spring in Bahrain was not only a proxy victory against Iran, it also demonstrated that Saudi influence could hold off Western action against GCC members under its umbrella and gave added weight to Saud Al-Faisal’s call for a combined military and foreign policy. Saudi Arabia can offer GCC members the protection of its enormous influence in the West, as well as one of the largest armies in the region, armed and trained by the United States, and an eventual nuclear umbrella.

The Obama Administration has left the nations of the region with very few options. They can either wait for America and Europe to hand them over to the Muslim Brotherhood on a democratic platter. They can become puppets of Iran. They can long for the return of a Turkish Ottoman Empire under the AKP. Or they can look to the Saudis for leadership and aid.

The Arab Spring has set two Caliphate movements on track. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Caliphate which is to consist of the Arab Socialist countries whose governments were overthrown in the Arab Spring, Egypt and Tunisia, and possibly Syria and Libya. And the GCC, a more traditional Caliphate of tribal monarchs with oil wealth.

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