As Qatar’s Emir Visits the White House, Here’s What Americans Need to Know About the Islamist Emirate – Security Studies Group
On Tuesday, Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, returns to Washington to visit with President Trump and officials at the National Security Council. The emir’s annual trip to the White House comes amid a determined push by the administration to keep afloat its Mideast Peace Plan following its opening event in Bahrain recently.
So far, the greatest beneficiaries of this effort haven’t been the Israelis or the Palestinians—it’s been the Qatari regime in Doha. Because of their cozy and collaborative relationships with so many of the Islamist terror groups both America and Israel count as enemies, the Qataris have deftly played their diplomatic hand, selling themselves as indispensable go-betweens that would allow the United States more freedom in disentangling itself from the Middle East.
President Trump’s laudable desire to end our nearly two-decade military involvement in Afghanistan places Qatar at the center of negotiations with the Taliban, which have been ongoing in Doha since the Obama administration. So, too, it seems, when it comes to diplomacy between Ramallah and Jerusalem.
As the pressure for a diplomatic breakthrough on the Middle East peace proposal intensifies, the Qataris will appear all too eager to further ingratiate themselves to the administration. But despite what the White House wants to believe, Qatar’s credibility when it comes to influencing a peaceful settlement between Israel and the Palestinians is in serious question, however. That nation has been Hamas’ principal system of financial and diplomatic support.
The Islamist terror group’s long-standing relationship with Qatar runs through the Muslim Brotherhood. In its founding charter, Hamas declares itself as a branch of the Brotherhood in Palestine. For its part, the Brotherhood long has understood Hamas to be the tip of the spear when it comes to armed jihad against Israel. America’s largest terror finance trial, U.S. vs. Holy Land Foundation, described the primary function of the Brotherhood in America as being a fundraising and communications tool for the terror group.
Since the U.S. government closed Texas’ Holy Land Foundation more than a decade ago for funneling millions to Hamas, foreign nations such as Qatar largely have picked up the slack. Money for a terror group like Hamas is fungible. This means investing in social services and territory itself. Part of Qatar’s largesse solidifies Hamas’ grip on the population: bribing Gazans with services, feeding its citizens with jihadist propaganda, and maintaining a security force that stamps down dissent and engages in murders of suspected collaborators.
But Qatar doesn’t just support Hamas directly in Gaza. The Gulf emirate bankrolls the group’s massive communications support network, including the institutions, media outlets and influencers that comprise most of anti-Israel activism globally.
For a half-century, Qatar has been a tiny oasis for Hamas’ ideological mothership, the Muslim Brotherhood and many of the world’s most virulent Islamists. In the 1960s, Gamal Abdel Nasser again banned and cracked down on the Brotherhood in Egypt, forcing thousands of the group’s agitators, clerics and community organizers to retreat elsewhere into the Middle East, Europe and North America.
Since then, the Arabian Gulf emirate of Qatar has been the Brotherhood’s most hospitable base of operations. In time, Brotherhood Islamism soon would emerge as Qatar’s de facto state ideology, as the ruling al-Thani family welcomed the Islamists with lavish funding, the highest state honors and the establishment of new Islamist institutions that would indoctrinate thousands of extremist clerics.
By backing the Brotherhood in the region, Qatar’s adventurism greatly imperils the security of Israel as well as the United States. The emirate undermines the stability of its Arab neighbors, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; it promotes Islamists in vulnerable, Western-open societies; and it diplomatically and financially supports violent terrorist groups such as Hamas, al-Qaida and the Taliban.
Of course, nobody who credibly can be called pro-Israel would want to be in the position to defend these policy priorities, even for satchels of cash on offer from Doha, Qatar’s capital.
Nevertheless, after Donald Trump’s shocking victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, two well-connected Jews became lobbyists and signed a substantial contract to represent the Islamist-supporting emirate of Qatar in the Arabian Gulf. That decision got them working against Israel’s interests and eventually did considerable damage to their careers and reputations.
Information warfare products consist of weaponized information translated into a variety of media — from books and articles to television interviews, blog posts and tweets. Qatar’s media empire comprises 38 sports television channels in 36 countries, exclusive broadcasting rights to Turner-owned channels in the Middle East and North Africa, a Qatar Airways-sponsored monthly travel series on CNN and more.
“Qatar has quickly and quietly built an unrivaled global influence operation,” said Brooke Goldstein, executive director of The Lawfare Project, which provides legal services for the Jewish community. “It presents a squeaky-clean face to the West that hides the regime’s support for the most extreme Islamist groups … groups that murder Israelis and gravely threaten U.S. interests.”
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