The Case against Qatar

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SHARE +10.8K SHAREShttp://foreignpolicy.com/category/topic/al_qaeda[/*]foreignpolicy.com/category/topic/foreign_aid[/*]foreignpolicy.com/category/topic/finance[/*]foreignpolicy.com/category/topic/taliban[/*]foreignpolicy.com/category/topic/syria[/*][/list]ABU DHABI and DOHA — Behind a glittering mall near Doha's city center sits the quiet restaurant where Hossam used to run his Syrian rebel brigade. At the battalion's peak in 2012 and 2013, he had 13,000 men under his control near the eastern city of Deir Ezzor. "Part of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), they are loyal to me," he said over sweet tea and sugary pastries this spring. "I had a good team to fight."

Hossam, a middle-aged Syrian expat, owns several restaurants throughout Doha, Qatar, catering mostly to the country's upper crust. The food is excellent, and at night the tables are packed with well-dressed Qataris, Westerners, and Arabs. Some of his revenue still goes toward supporting brigades and civilians with humanitarian goods -- blankets, food, even cigarettes.

He insists that he has stopped sending money to the battle, for now. His brigade's funds came, at least in part, from Qatar, he says, under the discretion of then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah. But the injection of cash was ad hoc: Dozens of other brigades like his received initial start-up funding, and only some continued to receive Qatari support as the months wore on. When the funds ran out in mid-2013, his fighters sought support elsewhere. "Money plays a big role in the FSA, and on that front, we didn't have," he explained.

Hossam is a peripheral figure in a vast Qatari network of Islamist-leaning proxies that spans former Syrian generals, Taliban insurgents, Somali Islamists, and Sudanese rebels. He left home in 1996 after more than a decade under pressure from the Syrian regime for his sympathy with the Muslim Brotherhood. Many of his friends were killed in a massacre of the group in Hama province in 1982 by then President Hafez al-Assad. He finally found refuge here in Qatar and built his business and contacts slowly. Mostly, he laid low; Doha used to be quite welcoming to the young President Bashar al-Assad and his elegant wife, who were often spotted in the high-end fashion boutiques before the revolt broke out in 2011.

When the Syrian war came and Qatar dropped Assad, Hossam joined an expanding pool of middlemen whom Doha called upon to carry out its foreign policy of supporting the Syrian opposition. Because there were no established rebels when the uprising started, Qatar backed the upstart plans of expats and businessmen who promised they could rally fighters and guns. Hossam, like many initial rebel backers, had planned to devote his own savings to supporting the opposition. Qatar's donations made it possible to think bigger.

In recent months, Qatar's Rolodex of middlemen like Hossam has proved both a blessing and a curse for the United States. On one hand, Washington hasn't shied away from calling on Doha's connections when it needs them: Qatar www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2014/0603/How-Qatar- the prisoner swap that saw U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl freed in exchange for five Taliban prisoners in Guantánamo Bay. And it ran the negotiations with al-Nusra Front, al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, that freed American writer Peter Theo Curtis in August. "Done," Qatari intelligence chief Ghanim Khalifa al-Kubaisi www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/american-exec a contact -- adding a thumbs-up emoticon -- after the release was completed.

But that same Qatari network has also played a major role in destabilizing nearly every trouble spot in the region and in accelerating the growth of radical and jihadi factions. The results have ranged from bad to catastrophic in the countries that are the beneficiaries of Qatari aid: Libya is mired in a war between proxy-funded militias, Syria's opposition has been overwhelmed by infighting and overtaken by extremists, and Hamas's intransigence has arguably helped prolong the Gaza Strip's humanitarian plight.

For years, U.S. officials have been willing to shrug off Doha's proxy network -- or even take advantage of it from time to time. Qatar's neighbors, however, have not.

Over the past year, fellow Gulf countries Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain have english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2014/03/05/G Qatar for its support of political Islamists across the region.These countries www.cnn.com/2014/08/22/opinion/the-moment-of-truth-for-the-g to close land borders or suspend Qatar's membership in the regional Gulf Cooperation Council unless the country backs down. After nearly a year of pressure, the first sign of a Qatari concession news.yahoo.com/qatar-steps-back-line-brotherhood-153913438.h on Sept. 13, when seven senior Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood figures left Doha www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/world/middleeast/bowing-to-pressu of the Qatari government.

Both Qatar and its critics are working to ensure that Washington comes down on their side of the intra-Gulf dispute. At stake is the future political direction of the region -- and their roles in guiding it.

Late last week, on Sept. 25, Glenn Greenwald's https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/25/uae-qatar-cams how a Washington, D.C.-based firm retained by the United Arab Emirates made contacts with journalists that appear to have yielded articles detailing how fundraisers for groups such as al-Nusra Front and Hamas operate openly in Doha, Qatar's capital. Foreign Policy also obtained documents from the Camstoll Group, run by former U.S. Treasury Department official Matthew Epstein. Although some of this open-source information is referred to in this article, the vast majority of the reporting comes from months of investigation in the region.

After several weeks of bad press, Qatar is also going on the offensive. "We don't fund extremists," Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani edition.cnn.com/2014/09/25/world/meast/qatar-emir/index.html during his first interview as Qatar's leader on Sept. 25. Just over a week earlier, Qatarhttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-16/qatar-regulates-charities-as-u-s-urges-stop-to-terror-funding.html a new law to regulate charities and prevent them from engaging in politics. And on Sept. 15, Doha began a new six-month contract with Washington lobbying firm Portland PR Inc., which may include lobbying Congress and briefing journalists.

So far, Washington appears unwilling to confront Qatar directly. Aside from the U.S. Treasury Department, which last week designated a second Qatari citizen for supporting al Qaeda in Syria and elsewhere, no senior U.S. administration officials have publicly called out Doha for its troublesome clients.

The State Department said that nobody would be available to comment for this article, but released a www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5437.htm on Aug. 26 that describes Qatar as "a valuable partner to the United States" and credits it with "play[ing] an influential role in the region through a period of great transformation."

The question is what the United States is prepared to do about Qatar if it fails to stem its citizens' support for extremist groups, says Jean-Louis Bruguière, the former head of the EU and U.S. Treasury Department's joint Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, now based in Paris. "The U.S. has the tools to monitor state and state-linked transfers to extremist groups. But intelligence is one thing and the other is how you react," he told FP by phone. "What kind of political decision is the U.S. really able to make against states financing terrorism?"

Friends of Qatar

There is no more telling indication of Qatar's ambitions than the fact that Doha taxi drivers are perpetually lost. With construction ongoing everywhere -- part of a www.nytimes.com/2014/01/06/opinion/qatars-showcase-of-shame. infrastructure plan to prepare for hosting the 2022 World Cup -- buildings open and projects come online so fast that the city's cabbies can't keep up.

On the world stage, Qatar sees its role as no less grandiose. Beneath the high-chandeliered ceilings of Doha's five-star hotel lobbies, eager delegations from around the world make their case for support. Governments, political parties, companies, and rebel groups scurry in and out nervously, and then wait over hot tea to have their proposals considered by the relevant Qatari authorities. Which hotel the visitors stay in indicates their prospects for support. The Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton are old favorites; Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has stayed at the former, the Syrian opposition at the latter. The W Hotel is a posh newcomer, mostly housing eager European delegations seeking investment or natural gas. The Sheraton -- one of Doha's first hotels -- is by now passé; that's where top Darfuri rebels stayed during negotiations with the Sudanese government. Everyone wants into the network, because as one Syrian in Doha put it, "Qatar has money and Qatar can connect money."

The winners in this hustle have often been those with the longest ties to this tiny, gas-rich state -- a menagerie of leaders from the global Muslim Brotherhood. Doha was already becoming an extremist hub by the early 2000s, as government-funded think tanks and universities popped up filled with Islamist-minded thinkers. The government-funded Al Jazeera was growing across the region, offering positive media attention to Brotherhood figures across the Middle East, and many of the ruling family's top advisors were Brotherhood-linked expatriates -- men like the controversial Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who heads the International Union of Muslim Scholars from Doha.

What Doha saw in the Muslim Brotherhood was a combination of religiosity and efficacy that seemed parallel to its own. Moreover, the Qatari ruling family sought to differentiate itself from competing monarchies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), both of which frown upon political Islam as dangerously power-seeking. It was pragmatism, argues Salah Eddin Elzein, head of the Al Jazeera Center for Studies, a think tank associated with the Qatar-owned satellite network. "Islamists came [to the region] in the 1980s, and Qatar was trying to ally itself with the forces that it saw as those most likely to be the dominant forces for the future."

But the global Muslim Brotherhood isn't Qatar's only -- or even its most important -- network. Nor does the royal family subscribe to the Brotherhood's ideals per se. Often overlooked is a second strand that tows closer to Qatar's official sympathies: the Salafi movement.

Emerging in the 1990s, activist Salafists merged the purist ideology of Saudi Arabia's clerical establishment with the politicized goals of the Muslim Brotherhood. Some of these thinkers would become the first incarnations of al Qaeda, while others gained a strong carnegieendowment.org/2014/05/07/kuwaiti-salafism-and-its-gr, where the first activist Salafi political party was formed.

It was in Qatar that the activist Salafists found their benefactor. Over the last 15 years in particular, Doha has become a de facto operating hub for a deeply interconnected community of Salafists living in Qatar but also in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and elsewhere. Clerics have been hosted by ministries and called to talk for important events. Charities have touted the cause -- charities like the Sheikh Eid bin Mohammad al Thani Charity, regulated by the Qatari Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, which is "probably the biggest and most influential activist Salafi-controlled relief organization in the world," according to a carnegieendowment.org/2014/05/07/kuwaiti-salafism-and-its-gr by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

As early as 2003, the U.S. Congress was made aware that Qatari-based charities were helping move and launder money linked to al Qaeda, providing employment and documentation for key figures in the operation. At the same time, Qatar's global influence was growing: State-backed Qatar Airways began an aircraft-buying spree in 2007 to fuel its vast expansion, linking the once far-flung emirate to every corner of the world. And by 2010, Al Jazeera had evolved into the Arab world's most influential media operation, supported by a www.journalism.org/2012/11/28/arab-satellite-news/ of $650 million.

Just as the Arab Spring invigorated opposition movements across the Middle East, so too did it electrify Qatar's network of political clients.

Power projection by proxy




Qatar was the only Gulf country not to view with trepidation the changes that roiled the Arab world starting in 2011. Saudi Arabia was shaken by how quickly Washington dropped its decades-long ally in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak. Bahrain convulsed when its majority Shiite population took to the streets to demand greater political influence. The UAE joined Qatar in backing NATO strikes in Libya but was considerably more reticent about the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood there and in Egypt, fearing the group would invigorate Islamist-sympathizers among its own population.

Qatar, meanwhile, placed a long bet that political Islam was the next big thing that would pay off. "Qatar believes in two things. First, Doha doesn't want the Saudis to be the major or only player in the Sunni region of the Middle East," says Kuwaiti political scientist Abdullah al-Shayji. "Second, Qatar wants to have a role to play as a major power in the region."

Yet mismatched with its grand ambitions, Qatar's foreign policy faced a key limitation. The country is home to just under 300,000 nationals, and government decision-making is concentrated in the hands of just a few officials. Lacking their own infrastructure, Qatar sought to amplify its impact by working through its network of Brotherhood and Salafi allies.

"The Qataris usually work by identifying individuals who they think are ideologically on the same wavelength," says Andreas Krieg, an assistant professor at King's College London and an advisor to the Qatar Armed Forces. "There is no vetting process per se; it's 'these are people we can trust.'"

The first battlefield test of Qatar's proxy chain was in Libya, where there was a broad regional consensus -- as well as U.S. support -- to oust then-leader Muammar al-Qaddafi. Qatar, together with the UAE, had signed on to Western airstrikes against the regime. But Doha also wanted to help build up rebel capacity on the ground.

"They had to literally go to their address book and say, 'Who do we know in Libya?'" says Krieg. "This is how they coordinated the Libya operation." Doha lined up a collection of businessmen, old Brotherhood friends, and ideologically aligned defectors, plying them with tens of millions of dollars and 20,000 tons of arms, thehttp://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970204002304576627000922764650 later estimated. After a months-long war, the rebels took Tripoli and Qaddafi was dead. Doha's clients found themselves among the most powerful political brokers in the new Libya. And long after the NATO strikes had ended, some Qatari-backed militias continued to receive support, says Bruguière.

Amid the initial euphoria of the Arab Spring, many expected the nascent summer protests in Syria to quickly topple the Assad regime. Presidents in Tunisia and Egypt had lasted just weeks before resigning, after all, and the world had quickly rallied to oust a more persistent Qaddafi. By August, Washington was calling on Assad to step down as well. Not long thereafter, Qatar began its Syrian operation, modeled on the Libyan adventure.

Like the tendering of a contract, Doha issued a call for bidders to help with the regime's overthrow. "When we started our battalion [in 2012], the Qataris said, 'Send us a list of your members. Send us a list of what you want -- the salaries and support needs,'" Hossam, the Syrian restaurant owner, remembers. He and dozens of other would-be rebel leaders submitted a pitch. He doesn't say how much his brigade received, but says his own fundraising efforts for humanitarian goods have yielded hundreds of thousands of riyals.

Qatar's friends abroad were also at work. Throughout 2012 and early 2013, activist Salafists in Kuwait mideastafrica.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/12/06/syria_s_gul to build, fund, and supply extremist brigades that would eventually become groups such as al-Nusra Front and its close ally, Ahrar al-Sham.

Using social media to tout their cause and a deep Rolodex of Kuwaiti business contacts, clerics and other prominent Kuwaiti Sunnishttp://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2013/12/06-private-gulf-financing-syria-extremist-rebels-sectarian-conflict-dickinsonhundreds of millions of dollars for their clients.<a class="icons-social_medium_twitter" title="Share on Twitter!" data-url="www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/30/the_case_against_q; data-title="The Case Against Qatar" data-text=" Using social media to tout their cause and a deep Rolodex of
Kuwaiti business contacts, clerics and other prominent Kuwaiti Sunnis raised
hundreds of millions of dollars for their clients. " data-endpoint="twitter" style="margin: 5px 3px 0px 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-size: 30px; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; outline: none; color: rgb(235, 20, 20); height: 22px; width: 22px; display: block; float: left; background: url(www.foreignpolicy.com/sites/all/themes/fp2/img/icons-s7aef40) -44px -84px no-repeat;"><a class="icons-social_medium_facebook" title="Share on Facebook!" data-url="www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/30/the_case_against_q; data-title="The Case Against Qatar" data-text=" Using social media to tout their cause and a deep Rolodex of
Kuwaiti business contacts, clerics and other prominent Kuwaiti Sunnis raised
hundreds of millions of dollars for their clients. " data-endpoint="facebook" style="margin: 5px 3px 0px 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-size: 30px; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; outline: none; color: rgb(235, 20, 20); height: 22px; width: 22px; display: block; float: left; background: url(www.foreignpolicy.com/sites/all/themes/fp2/img/icons-s7aef40) -109px -126px no-repeat;"><a class="icons-social_medium_google" title="Share on Google+!" data-url="www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/30/the_case_against_q; data-title="The Case Against Qatar" data-text=" Using social media to tout their cause and a deep Rolodex of
Kuwaiti business contacts, clerics and other prominent Kuwaiti Sunnis raised
hundreds of millions of dollars for their clients. " data-endpoint="google" style="margin: 5px 3px 0px 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-size: 30px; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; outline: none; color: rgb(235, 20, 20); height: 22px; width: 22px; display: block; float: left; background: url(www.foreignpolicy.com/sites/all/themes/fp2/img/icons-s7aef40) -66px -84px no-repeat;"> Using social media to tout their cause and a deep Rolodex of Kuwaiti business contacts, clerics and other prominent Kuwaiti Sunnis www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2013/12/06-private-gulf-fi hundreds of millions of dollars for their clients. They were able to work essentially unhindered thanks to Kuwait's www.lawfareblog.com/2013/12/the-foreign-policy-blog-elizabet and its freedoms of association and speech.

One such donor was the young Kuwaiti Salafi cleric Hajjaj al-Ajmi, who on Aug. 6 was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as a funder of terrorism for backing al-Nusra Front. Ajmi runs the so-calledhttps://twitter.com/alhayahalshabyh, many of whose campaign posters on Twitter spoke of charity work -- giving food or medicine to the needy and displaced. But back in June 2012, Qatar's Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs invited the cleric to speak in the coastal city of Al Khor, 30 miles outside Doha, wherehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tdFIGKEAJA that humanitarian support alone would never topple the Syrian regime.

"Did you know that bringing down Damascus would not cost more than $10 million?" he intoned, wagging his fingers from his chair in front of the old Syrian flag adopted by revolutionaries. "The priority is the support for the jihadists and arming them."

In the months that followed, many of Ajmi's campaigns in Kuwait ran www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2013/12/06-private-gulf-fi in Qatar. Donations could be placed through a representative named Mubarak al-Ajji, according tohttps://twitter.com/suotalfajer/status/484442385879810049, which affirm he is under Ajmi's "supervision." Ajji's Twitter bio describes him as loving Sunni jihadists who hate "Shiites and infidels." His timeline is flush with praise for Osama bin Laden.

One of Ajmi's Kuwaiti colleagues, a cleric named Mohammad al-Owaihan, also used Qatar as a base, https://twitter.com/Al_owaihan/status/458222660452089856 his "second country" in a tweet in August. As recently as April, Owaihan solicited Qataris to help prepare fighters for battle on the Syrian coast. "Our jihad is a jihad of Money in Syria," one poster https://twitter.com/Al_owaihan/status/451200304261128192, offering contact numbers in Kuwait and Qatar.

These fundraising efforts were well-honed appeals, for example placing donors in special categories for donations of varying sizes. A "gold" gift was 10,000 Qatari riyals ($2,750), while a "silver" donation came in at 5,000 riyals. When particularly generous donations arrived, Ajji and others reported them on Twitter, for example posting photos of jewelry turned over to fund the cause.

Among the grateful rebel brigades that released videos thanking the Kuwaiti cleric Owaihan is Ahrar al-Sham, a Salafi group that counted an www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/01/17/214966/key-anti-assad-rebel-l as one of its top commanders until he was killed this year: "O the kind people of Qatar, O people of the Gulf, your money has arrived," an October 2013 www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY7433WfSGE&;amp;noredirect=1 from the brigade proclaims. Ajmi boasted of his proximity to Ahrar al-Sham on Sept. 9 in a https://twitter.com/Hajaj_Alajmi/status/509503569007882240 showing the private online message the group's leader sent him when the Kuwaiti cleric was designated and sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.

All of these fundraising activities were orchestrated by individuals -- not the government -- as Qatar has noted in its defense in recent weeks. But this is also exactly the point: By relying on middlemen, Doha not only outsourced the work but also the liability of meddling. And even where it wasn't involved directly, Qatar is not unaware of what's going on in its network.

Many clerics in the activist Salafi movement have, like Ajmi, been outspoken in their backing of groups like al-Nusra Front in Syria -- views that have found a welcome audience among government-backed organizations in Doha. Saudi cleric Mohammad al-Arefe, who has called for arming jihadists in Syria and Palestine, was invited by Qatar's Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs in March 2012 and January 2014 to deliver a Friday sermon and a lecture at Qatar's Grand Mosque. Kuwaiti Salafist Nabil al-Awadhy -- a www.usip.org/sites/default/files/PW91-Syrias%20Socially%20Me for groups close to al-Nusra Front -- was the featured lecturer in Qatar at a Ramadan festival on July 4, 2014, hosted by a charity and aid group closely linked with the government.

Hostage to proxies

Qatar's Arab Spring strategy began to fail in the same place it was conceived, amid the masses of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square. On July 3, 2013, demonstrators cheered on the Egyptian military's ouster of Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi, whose government Qatar had backed to the tune of www.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/world/middleeast/qatar-doubles-ai. Within days, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait welcomed the new military-backed government with combined pledges of $13 billion in aid. Days later, Saudi Arabia www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/06/06/syria_is_now_saudi of backing the Syrian opposition by installing its preferred political leadership. By early fall, Libya was also falling into utter disarray, exemplified by the www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/10/libyan-prime-minister- of the country's prime minister in October 2013. Doha, which had just seen the ascension of a new 33-year-old emir, meekly vowed to focus on internal affairs.

"One of the things about Qatar's foreign policy is the extent to which it has been a complete and total failure, almost an uninterrupted series of disasters," says Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine. "Except it's all by proxy, so nothing bad ever happens to Qatar."

In both Libya and Syria, Qatar helped fund internationally backed umbrella groups -- but it also channeled support to individuals and militias directly. In Libya, for example, one of Qatar's main conduits to the rebels, the Doha-based cleric Ali al-Sallabi, clashed furiously with Mahmoud Jibril, a Western-backed leader who served as interim prime minister until he resigned in October 2011,content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2097333,00.html of "chaos" as various factions battled for control. Today, that warning seems prescient as Libya is mired in an accelerating battle between various rival militias split along regional and ideological lines. The UAE, using U.S.-made jets and operating out of Egypt, has www.nytimes.com/2014/08/26/world/africa/egypt-and-united-ara undertaken several rounds of airstrikes to roll back Qatari-funded Islamists since mid-August.

But it is in Syria where Qatar's network most spectacularly misfired. Competition between Qatari and Saudi clients has rendered the political opposition toothless, perceived on the ground as a vassal of foreign powers. Meanwhile throughout 2012 and 2013, the proliferation of upstart rebel groups bred competition for funding. Some of Qatar's clients became key brigades -- groups such as Liwa al-Tawhid, whose leader unified rebels in a fractious fight to control Aleppo. Others like Hossam's, however, simply folded or lingered weakly, focusing on their own ideals and goals.

In other words, there was no one winner.

Qatar and other international powers haphazardly backed dozens of different brigades and let them fight it out for who could secure a greater share of the funding.<a class="icons-social_medium_twitter" title="Share on Twitter!" data-url="www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/30/the_case_against_q; data-title="The Case Against Qatar" data-text="Qatar and other international powers
haphazardly backed dozens of different brigades and let them fight it out for
who could secure a greater share of the funding." data-endpoint="twitter" style="margin: 5px 3px 0px 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-size: 30px; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; outline: none; color: rgb(235, 20, 20); height: 22px; width: 22px; display: block; float: left; background: url(www.foreignpolicy.com/sites/all/themes/fp2/img/icons-s7aef40) -44px -84px no-repeat;"><a class="icons-social_medium_facebook" title="Share on Facebook!" data-url="www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/30/the_case_against_q; data-title="The Case Against Qatar" data-text="Qatar and other international powers
haphazardly backed dozens of different brigades and let them fight it out for
who could secure a greater share of the funding." data-endpoint="facebook" style="margin: 5px 3px 0px 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-size: 30px; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; outline: none; color: rgb(235, 20, 20); height: 22px; width: 22px; display: block; float: left; background: url(www.foreignpolicy.com/sites/all/themes/fp2/img/icons-s7aef40) -109px -126px no-repeat;"><a class="icons-social_medium_google" title="Share on Google+!" data-url="www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/30/the_case_against_q; data-title="The Case Against Qatar" data-text="Qatar and other international powers
haphazardly backed dozens of different brigades and let them fight it out for
who could secure a greater share of the funding." data-endpoint="google" style="margin: 5px 3px 0px 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-size: 30px; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; outline: none; color: rgb(235, 20, 20); height: 22px; width: 22px; display: block; float: left; background: url(www.foreignpolicy.com/sites/all/themes/fp2/img/icons-s7aef40) -66px -84px no-repeat;">Qatar and other international powers haphazardly backed dozens of different brigades and let them fight it out for who could secure a greater share of the funding.They had few incentives to cooperate on operations, let alone strategy. Nor did their various backers have any incentive to push them together, since this might erode their own influence over the rebels.

Qatar's bidding system for support also quickly incentivized corruption, as middlemen began to exaggerate their abilities and contacts on the ground to donors in Doha. "Often, groups would submit maybe 3,000 names, but in reality there would be only 300 or 400 people," says Hossam, the restaurant owner. "The extra money goes in the wrong way. They would do the same thing with operations. If the actual needs were $1 million, maybe they say $5 million. Then the other $4 million disappears."

The disarray helped push fighters increasingly toward some of the groups that seemed to have a stronger command of their funding and their goals -- groups such as al-Nusra Front and eventually the Islamic State, which split from the al Qaeda affiliate in early 2014. The last year has seen a string of defections from more moderate groups into these extremist elements. In December 2013, for example, former Deir Ezzor Free Syrian Army commander Saddam al-Jamal www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/12/syrian-fighter-de in a video that he was joining the Islamic State because "as days passed, we realized that [the FSA] was a project that was funded by foreign countries, especially Qatar," he said.

It's unlikely that the Qatari government -- or any Gulf state -- ever backed the Islamic State, an organization that today has in its cross-hairs all of the U.S.-allied monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula, and vice versa. But as in Jamal's case, some of the individuals who benefited from Qatari funds did go on to join more radical brigades, taking their experience and arms with them.

"Qatar developed early on relations with rebel groups that later radicalized and joined the Salafi-jihadi universe, including Nusra and possibly [the Islamic State]," explains Emile Hokayem, senior fellow for Middle East security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "The evolving nature of the Syrian rebellion created often unintended and problematic if at times beneficial entanglements."

Even as the Syrian opposition gravitated toward the extreme, Qatar argued in late 2012 that the world should worry about radicals later. "I am very much against excluding anyone at this stage, or bracketing them as terrorists, or bracketing them as al Qaeda," Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, then minister of state for foreign affairs, https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&;amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=5&amp;ved=0CDwQFjAE&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.iiss.org%2F~%2Fmedia%2FDocuments%2FEvents%2FManama%20Dialogue%2FMD2012%2FPlenary%202%20QA.pdf&amp;ei=hQAOVMTxFMTWarC0gogO&amp;usg=AFQjCNEMShMIdVj3jcGgIR5smeevOh8DUg&amp;sig2=v42HJkYuUyLxuB_6ZlmRZQ&amp;bvm=bv.74649129,d.d2s&amp;cad=rja at a security conference in December of that year.

That sentiment was reiterated by Emir Tamim in his interview with CNN last week, arguing that it would be a "edition.cnn.com/2014/09/25/world/meast/qatar-emir/index.html; to lump together all Islamist-leaning groups in Syria as extremists. Indeed, in all its recent statements rejecting extremism, Doha has mentioned the Islamic State but never al-Nusra Front by name.

Elzein, of the Al Jazeera Center for Studies, defends Qatar's support for Islamists across the Middle East. He describes the spat between Doha and the other Gulf monarchies as a competition "between powers for the status quo and for change, where Qatar sided itself with change in the region."

"Qatar's foreign policy generated a lot of controversy, but perhaps that was part of its very nature," he says. "When you try something new in a region known to be very conservative, it's bound to bring that kind of criticism and misperception."

And indeed, Qatar is far from the only Gulf country whose role in Syria and elsewhere has had negative repercussions. Saudi Arabia has also backed individuals and disparate rebel groups in Syria, and the UAE has sided with specific militias in Libya. In Egypt, a government strongly backed by both countries has overseen mass human rights abuses as it cracks down against the Muslim Brotherhood.

But it's still hard to see what Qatar has changed for the better. Although its intentions to help the Syrian people were almost certainly genuine, a combination of haphazard methods and support for ideological proxies helped push the opposition toward both radicalization and disarray.

Washington and Doha

Qatar had such freedom to run its network for the last three years because Washington was looking the other way. In fact, in 2011, the United States gave Doha de facto free rein to do what it wasn't willing to in the Middle East: intervene.

Libya was a case in point. When U.S. President Barack Obama's administration began building a coalition for airstrikes in the spring of 2011, it took an approach www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/09/05/behind-the-curtain "leading from behind": France and Britain took the lead in implementing the no-fly zone, while Qatar's and the United Arab Emirates' involvement demonstrated Arab support. When Doha stepped forward to help organize the rebels, they were broadly welcomed, former U.S. officials said in interviews with FP.

The same was true in Syria. Despite reticence among certain camps of the U.S. government, particularly those who had worked on Libya, it was still the least-worst option: Qatar, an ally of the United States, could help provide a regional solution to a conflict the White House had no interest in getting entangled in. Washington simply asked Doha not to send anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles to the rebels, which it www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/world/middleeast/sending-missiles.

On top of the political convenience was the logistical ease of working with the Qataris. Doha makes decisions quickly -- and is willing to take risks. While the Saudis moved slowly getting arms into Syria, the Qataris www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/03/25/world/middleeast/an-a to move an estimated www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/world/middleeast/arms-airlift-to- military equipment in 2012 and 2013, reportedly with the CIA's backing. "Their interagency process has about three people in it," said one former U.S. official.

The same upsides meant that Washington turned to Doha when it sought www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/in-qatar-us-taliba with the Afghan Taliban in 2011 and 2012. The goal was to help smooth the exit of NATO troops from Afghanistan with a political solution. In on-and-off contacts, always made indirectly through the Qataris, the Taliban agreed to negotiate -- but first they wanted an office. In June 2013, they got it: a large villa in the embassy district of Doha near a crowded traffic circle known as Rainbow Roundabout.

But Qatar's advantages soon turned into liabilities. As Doha moved from crisis to crisis, the Qataris showed little ability to choose reliable proxies or to control them once resources had been pumped in. "My view is that Qatari policymaking was a bit amateur. When they got in, they showed no staying power," the ex-U.S. official said.

In the Taliban case, Doha proved unable or unwilling to stop the Afghan militants from audaciously raising their flag over their new Qatari villa -- an act of diplomatic symbolism that infuriated Kabul and scuppered talks before they began. All that could be salvaged from the process, it became clear a year later, was a www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/31/us-pays-high-price that traded U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five top Taliban commanders being held in Guantánamo Bay. Qatar gave its assurances that the five operatives would be under close watch in Doha -- but given the country's history, that doesn't necessarily mean they won't influence the Afghan battlefield.

In Syria, meanwhile, it wasn't until the Islamic State gained prominence that Washington sat up and took notice. In March, David S. Cohen, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, took the unprecedented step of www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2308.as the Qataris in public for a "permissive terrorist financing environment." Such stark criticism, counterterrorism experts say, is usually left for closed-door conversations. A public airing likely indicated Doha wasn't responsive to Washington's private requests.

This summer, the conflict between Israel and Hamas also shone fresh light on Qatar's links to extremists in Palestine. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has been based in Doha since breaking with the Syrian regime in 2012, and Qatar has worked to rehabilitate the group politically and financially ever since. In October of that year, Qatar's emir visited the Gaza Strip himself, pledging $400 million in aid.

Before and during the latest Gaza war, fellow Gulf states began to lobby in Washington to get tough with Qatar. In 2013, the UAE spent $14 million -- more than any other country -- on lobbying in Washington, according to data compiled by the Sunlight Foundation. The Camstoll Group, which has been https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/25/uae-qatar-cams to recent media coverage, has held a contract since 2012 that www.fara.gov/docs/6144-Exhibit-AB-20121210-1.pdf indicate can represent fees of up to $400,000 a month. In the first half of 2013, it earned $4.3 million for activities thathttp://www.fara.gov/reports/SAR_JUNE_2013.pdf describe as advising on matters of "illicit financial activities." (Disclosure: Foreign Policy's http://peace-game.com/program, presented in conjunction with the U.S. Institute of Peace, is underwritten in part by a grant from the UAE Embassy. All FPeditorial content, however, is entirely independent.)

Heads have begun to in Washington. In a Sept. 9 hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives, witnesses and congressmen suggested measures that would dramatically recast the relationship between Washington and Doha. In testimony, Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, proposed measures that could "send shock waves through the Qatari financial system": designating charities and individuals in Qatar, putting a hold on an $11 billion arms deal, and even opening an assessment into the cost of moving the U.S. military base away from the emirate.

"Excellent ideas," hearing chairman Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) said in reply to the witnesses. "We ought to take them all and implement as many as we can."

The U.S. Treasury Department is also stepping up efforts to crack down on al Qaeda and Islamic State funds; on Sept. 24, it designated several individuals with links to Qatar. In addition to a Qatari national alleged to have moved funds from Gulf donors to Afghanistan, the designations include Tariq Bin-Al-Tahar Bin Al Falih Al-Awni Al-Harzi, who gathered support from Qatar, including by arranging for the Islamic State "to receive approximately $2 million from a Qatar-based [Islamic State] financial facilitator, who required that Al-Harzi use the funds for military operations only," the www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl2651.as.

Doha's pushback in reply is just the latest iteration of a long-running bidding war among Gulf states for Washington's favor. Qatar has increased its visibility in Washington in recent years, holding active contracts with lobbying groups Patton Boggs, Barbour Griffith and Rogers, and BGR Government Affairs. With its vast philanthropic arms, it has sponsored everything from student exchange programs to the www.congressionalbaseball.org/teams.html. Since the global financial crisis, various Qatari investment funds have also www.washingtonpost.com/local/qatar-is-suddenly-investing-hea in Washington, Chicago, and elsewhere.



Qatar's money runs even more obliquely as well, through the dozens of consultants, businessmen, and former officials whom it has hired at one point or another.<a class="icons-social_medium_twitter" title="Share on Twitter!" data-url="www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/30/the_case_against_q; data-title="The Case Against Qatar" data-text="Qatar's
money runs even more obliquely as well, through the dozens of consultants,
businessmen, and former officials whom it has hired at one point or another.
" data-endpoint="twitter" style="margin: 5px 3px 0px 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-size: 30px; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; outline: none; color: rgb(235, 20, 20); height: 22px; width: 22px; display: block; float: left; background: url(www.foreignpolicy.com/sites/all/themes/fp2/img/icons-s7aef40) -44px -84px no-repeat;"><a class="icons-social_medium_facebook" title="Share on Facebook!" data-url="www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/30/the_case_against_q; data-title="The Case Against Qatar" data-text="Qatar's
money runs even more obliquely as well, through the dozens of consultants,
businessmen, and former officials whom it has hired at one point or another.
" data-endpoint="facebook" style="margin: 5px 3px 0px 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-size: 30px; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; outline: none; color: rgb(235, 20, 20); height: 22px; width: 22px; display: block; float: left; background: url(www.foreignpolicy.com/sites/all/themes/fp2/img/icons-s7aef40) -109px -126px no-repeat;"><a class="icons-social_medium_google" title="Share on Google+!" data-url="www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/30/the_case_against_q; data-title="The Case Against Qatar" data-text="Qatar's
money runs even more obliquely as well, through the dozens of consultants,
businessmen, and former officials whom it has hired at one point or another.
" data-endpoint="google" style="margin: 5px 3px 0px 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-size: 30px; vertical-align: baseline; box-sizing: border-box; outline: none; color: rgb(235, 20, 20); height: 22px; width: 22px; display: block; float: left; background: url(www.foreignpolicy.com/sites/all/themes/fp2/img/icons-s7aef40) -66px -84px no-repeat;">Qatar's money runs even more obliquely as well, through the dozens of consultants, businessmen, and former officials whom it has hired at one point or another. Take the Soufan Group, for example, a well-regarded consultancy on counterterrorism and intelligence. Its founder, Ali Soufan, is also qiass.org/team/ of the Qatar International Academy for Security Studies (QIASS) in Doha, a government-funded center that offers several-week courses to government and military employees. Several other Soufan Group employees are also www.qiass.org/team/soufan/ there -- an affiliation they rarely disclose in U.S. media interviews. Reached by telephone, Lila Ghosh, communications specialist at the group, toldFP that the firm did not do any work on behalf of Qatar within the United States.

QIASS also appears to have given former Obama White House spokesman Robert Gibbs's new PR group, the Incite Agency, one of its first jobs. Just weeks after it opened, Incite soufangroup.com/world-leaders-and-policy-makers-participate- co-hosted by the Soufan Group and QIASS on "countering violent extremism." The Incite Agency did not return repeated calls from FP seeking to clarify its relationship with QIASS.

But the biggest reason that Qatar is likely to remain in good favor with Washington isn't money or influence, but necessity. As the United States ramps up a coalition against the Islamic State militants, it will need first and foremost its air base in Qatar, which is www.washingtonpost.com/world/us-attacks-islamic-state-in-syr for operations -- and then once again, the cover of Arab support.

With Syria and Iraq in chaos, both countries are now populated by a range of extremist actors whom Washington won't want to negotiate with. Doha's up for that job. Most recently, Qatar was called in to help negotiate the release of 45 U.N. peacekeepers taken captive by al-Nusra Front -- and on Sept. 12 it www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/09/un-peacekeepers-re it had successfully won the soldiers' release. Qatar insists that a ransom was not paid; perhaps the network of Doha-based funders gave the government a certain leverage over the group. Or it just may be that the al Qaeda affiliate wants something even more valuable.

"I think what Qatar can give them is legitimacy," suggests Krieg. In al-Nusra Front's official demands regarding the peacekeeper hostages, for example, it https://twitter.com/Charles_Lister/status/506729894886121472 to be taken off the U.N. sanctions list. "Nusra wants to be seen as a legitimate partner against [the Islamic State]; Qatar might be able to offer them a platform in the future," Krieg says.

That's essentially what Qatar has long offered its friends: a platform, with access to money, media, and political capital. Washington has so far played along, but the question is whether the United States is actually getting played.

Mohammed Saber/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Karim Jafaar/AFP

AFP

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www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/30/the_case_against_q
UnderMOSS5 hours ago



"Although its intentions to help the Syrian people were almost certainly genuine..."

[The genuine wish to unleash medieval jihadi savagery on the innocent people of Syria!]




This article is fascinating in what it owns up to and at the same time what it still ridiculously insists upon (note the totally out of left-field credulity quoted above AND a later to admission of FP benefitting from Qatari largesse!) I have to say this displays laudable respect and brazen contempt for FP readers in the same breath! The author stresses Qatar crucial structural role in Washington's imperial project openly doing what it itself cannot be seen doing. There is a bizarre syllogistic evasion here of the fact that Washington ultimately runs the show. Qatar only does what Washington will let it, but it lobbies Washington to give it more rope to with which to hang itself. Qatar is the living breathing embodiment of the flexibility and nihilism of the US empire - it keeps its options open at all times. Qatar is the proxy-proxy nation through which any proxy can be bought. This is the paragon of contemporary globalized capital, the idyllic garden of eden marketplace where political and fiscal capital seamlessly merge.




That the pretext of this article is that Washington is concerned about this state of affairs is beyond laughable.




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Elwi Ali Helal17 hours ago

this is not new we know that long time ago but u have to add here that Turkey also play a role in this Middle east chaos cause they want to be a member in EU now things changed and they will be so soon very big threats to EU and most of the world


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nader altelehy1 day ago

as an Arabic person, i am surprised that it took you all that time to understand the role of Qatar in the region. while any normal guy in Egypt Streets understands this a long ago.


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S. Suchindranath Aiyer1 day ago

An excellent detailed read. This is something that I have been screaming from the roof tops for more than two decades! When will they find the "smoking gun" against Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait? And, even if they do, will it matter as little as it does with Pakistan? The simple truth is that the movers and shakers of the powerful Western World are in cahoots with these Islamic Emirates and Caliphate. US strategy is driven by opinion and decision makers on the pay roll of Petro-Dollars. The tactics and operations are intended to appease US vote fodder. Naturally the strategy trumps the tactics and the operations. The same Petro Dollars have been used to fund Madrassas and Mosques around the World to generate the students (Taliban) to be trained by the US made base or academy (Al Qaeda) into regiments (such as Al Sehabab, ISIS, Boko Haram, Jaish E Mohammed, Inter Service Intelligence etc) intended to realize Mohammed's vision on the rubble of all civilizations and the corpses of dissent as per the covenant that the Saudi made with the Wahabi to become the Guardians of the Q'aba and to whom the Wahabis are sworn liege serfs by the same token. ISIS and several other regiments have repudiated their Wahabi oath of loyalty to the Saudis and the other Emirs because they are "haram" or corrupt and not in inexorable congruence with the prophet's violent, blood thirsty, destructive vision. At this juncture of History, the Wahabis sense the opportune moment to topple the effete, corrupt and absurdly struthonian liberal secular democracies and master their power and wealth to their purpose. They have been adept at this. They have used the US as a hired gun on several occasions. To bomb Belgrade for 84 days and so wrest the first ethnically cleansed emirate in Europe after 1489. To deflect anger over 9/11 to Iraq and Syria from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and so simultaneously topple the opposition (Secular, Soclialist Baathists) to the Caliphate while draining the US of blood and treasure so that, even if the citizens of the "West" realize the follies of their rulers, they will not have the wherewithal to act. The litany around Pakistan alone could be endless!



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Stuart1122 hours ago

@S. Suchindranath Aiyer Wow ! Well written. Although it too much on my plate without a carafe of coffee at this time I commend you for the post. Kudos.



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fredlibya1 day ago



The answer is yes. The U.S. is being played.

Obama is unwilling to get too involved in the Middle East, but he must stop short of giving Qatar a free hand to interfeer.

Qatar will only push for the installing of the Moslem brotherhood, a group that has benn rejected in elections in Libya, and in Egypt.

Do not forget that the charter of the Moslem brotherhood calls for a pan Arab Islamic state!

Sound familiar?




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hugodemelo2 days ago



Is this article also part of this?!




https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/25/uae-qatar-cams




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Miktep72 days ago



Qatar's foreign policy has "backfired" WOW!!

--I'm glad our Middle Eastern policies have worked out so well for America.




Especially now that we're spending hundreds of millions to destroy the billions of dollars worth of artillery, tanks and armored vehicles the Iraqi troops, we paid to train and arm, left behind in their haste to run away from defending their own country.




--We should refuse to spend any more money for any Middle Eastern country until we get a deal for $50 a barrel oil for 5 years! Any group of Kings, Princes and Dictators in the Middle East would jump at that deal to save their fortunes, private jets and harems.




Saddam offered us $10 a barrel oil if we didn't invade. Instead we shipwrecked our economy trying to help the wrong people. Rome did this for centuries and it worked great for them.




At least Qatar isn't spending money they don't have.




--Mike




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Stuart1121 hours ago



@Miktep7 Economically logical. Why doesn't the US DOD invoice them for all services rendered , training , armaments , launch platforms utilized, transports, logistics along with post-war carnage psyche and physical therapy. Pay to play.

Them being the world. The service being our highly trained mercenaries, veteran hospitals, benefits, pay grade increases and military families.

All of course 'in the name of democracy, freedom and humanitarianism.'





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marty martel2 days ago

Now all Foreign Policy wonks have to do is research and publish a similar article on Pakistani State's funding, support and shelter of Mullah Omar's Afghan Taliban and Haqqani's terror networks that are terrorizing Afghanistan since 2001 and even before.


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Signalier2 days ago

and we call this a friendly country to the USA. Everyone knows they are funding ISIS and many other terrorist organizations. Israel should go after them.


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Buryevestnik2 days ago



It is easy to make the case against the case against Qatar.




The activities of Qatar differ somewhat from other Gulf monarchies, but in details that matter a lot to its neighbors but not so much to American interests or wider "Western democratic perspective". In particular, among different strains of "political Islam", Qatar is eclectic in its support, and maintains cordial relations with Muslim Brotherhood, while in the neighboring states the domestic opposition is to a large degree associated with Muslim Brotherhood, and that seems to cause a row, and prompts Emirate (and perhaps Saudis too) to influence a campaign of creating bad PR for Qatar. So Dickinson wrote a mixture of a sober report with a hit on Qatar. However, as she mentioned in the number of places, other countries are involved in funding the same militant movements, so any "push back" against Qatar would achieve nothing if we do nothing about Emirates, Saudi Kingdom, Turkey and CIA. Even if we adopt Saudi/Emirati perspective, why should it matter to us if Muslim Brotherhood gets support from Turkey and Qatar or from Turkey alone?




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kingn9002 days ago

Qatar was known for years that it is the main financial supporter of islamic terrorist groups across the the middle east in Egypt (MB),Libya ,Syria and Yemen,they were warned from few months by other gulf countries like saudi arabia and emirates to stop their support to these terrorist islamists or they will be isolated in the gulf region ,in the same time Turkey facilitate movement of fanatic islamists to Syria and provide supplies and health care in its hospitals for these fanatic islamists so I wonder how any one can trust Qatar and Turkey as part of the US coalition that fight the fanatic islamists Daish(ISIS)


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vantonni222 days ago



Interesting piece - but why bury the lead? It took 20 or so paragraphs to get to the point: why Qatar would fund Islamists rebels/terrorists? And I am not sure I still understand "why." so I get that they are looking for influence - and looking to offset shia Iran and sunni Saudi Arabia.




But....

If ISIS wins, for example - Qatar ceases to exist within a caliphate. political islam isn't too happy with monarchies created, supported and propped up militarily by the West - again Qatar loses. I don't see a scenario where Qatar - as a nation state - wins in the long term. Or is this all the work of fabulously wealthy individuals creating their own foreign policy like some king of viking princes of the desert? I got thousand words in and didnt find an answer.




So does Qatar only win if there is chaos?





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MarcP2 days ago



@vantonni22 It's complicated. Qatar wants a gas pipeline from the Persian Gulf across Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean. The US and UK support this. UAE, Oman and Bahrain support this. Assad has refused. Russia supports Assad because cheaper gas to the Med is competition for Gasprom, and petro products are the key to the Russian economy and Putin's hold on power.

Iran would like to build a pipeline across Iraq and Syria to the Med. Assad likes Iran. Qatar, Saudi and other Sunni dictatorships oppose.




Thus the war. Thus Saudi Arabia threatening terrorist attacks on the Olympics in Sochi if Putin didn't stop supporting Assad (August 2013).


Phase I of the Qatari-supported pipeline (the Iraq part) is already under construction. Any article is suspect in my view that doesn't mention the pipeline when writing of Qatar's motivations (or other countries' motivations) for the war in Syria.

Now, on to the Qatar-Saudi sibling rivalry. Qatar supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Saudi hates the Muslim Brotherhood because MB hates the King. Saudi loves the idea of someone (anyone) profiting on the Pars Field gas rather than Iran, but they don't like Qatari support for the Muslim Brotherhood, so the Saudis mildly oppose the pipeline. However, both countries prefer any Sunni fundamentalist militant government in Syria and Iraq rather than the current governments, so they are also allies. This last item is the most important. To a fundamentalist Sunni dictator, any other fundamentalist Sunni dictator is a brother in arms and preferred over all other options.





Clear now?




www.wordreference.com/iten/Salafist#articleHeadwww.wordrefer


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Tom ATK1 day ago

@MarcP @vantonni22 You forget one big reason that no one mentions: massive untapped gas deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean basin, off the coast of Syria and Lebanon. As long as there is chaos in Syria, these can not be developed and everyone benefits: Qatar, KSA, Iran, as well as Russia and the US, and their cronies etc...


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vivamanutd842 days ago

That is a very misleading piece. The interesting thing is that they quoted Glenn Greenwald's wonderful piece that actually looks at the lobbying of Saudi Arabia and UAE on US media to portray Qatar as the most and only fundraiser of Islamists. Read his piece, Qatar is not, it's Saudi Arabia! I don't understand why a huge piece would be focused on this country while neglecting the continuous age old support of terrorism around the globe.


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Shingo2 days ago



Over the past year, fellow Gulf countries Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain havehttp://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2014/03/05/Gulf-trio-pull-Qatar-ambassadors-why-now-.htmlQatar for its support of political Islamists across the region




Wow, just wow.




So Saudi Arabia, which funds Al Qaeda and ISIS and JAL is rebuking Qatar for support of political Islamists across the region? Seriously? Bush had to redact 28 pages of the 911 Commission report to project Saudi Arabia.




It's not that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain have a problem with support of political Islamists, it's that they have a problem with support for some Islamists.




Of course, Dickson leaves out the fact that the real reason Washington is making such a fuss is because Israel is incensed that Qatar supports Hamas.




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william2652 days ago



Good article!!!

this is why i love foreign policy!!!

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philobiblos2 days ago



The interesting question the publication of this article raises is why it is published now?

Much of the information it contains, and its primary thesis, have been known for over a year, maybe more . . .

Indeed Qatar is not alone as Erdogan's Turkey also has been in the forefront of support for terrorists, and the same line — albeit more discreetly — has been followed by the Saudis and their Gulf factotums.

Washington, its European allies and Israel now have the advantage of a clearly defined enemy — and they need to act accordingly.




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jutland2 days ago

Haven't seen this story on Al Jazeera.


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aoyang2 days ago



Tight article. Nice one, Dickinson







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itchyballs2 days ago

Excellent article. This ikind of articke is why i subscribe to FP.


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Krish3 days ago

And WHAT exactly is the RETURN on Qatar's investments...pray tell? And Don't tell me Qatar is throwing money around like a teenager after getting their first job, because they are so fond of their new found role on the Global Stage? something is shady....plus it involves the US Military Industrial Complex. Good luck finding answers.



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Dave1232 days ago

@Krish The jihadis leave them alone.


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Shingo2 days ago



@Dave123 @Krish The jihadis leave them alone.




The jihadis leave Saudi Arabia alone too.





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itchyballs2 days ago



You'll never find the correct answers looking in the wrong place. Thats where your looking. military industrial complex ? ..... LoL . tired old and wrong conspiracy theory. Theyve lost almost all of their former power which was always overblown buy the conspiracy theorists trying to make sense of a world that they just can't understand.

This article lays it out pretty well.




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MarcP2 days ago

@Krish Qatar wants a gas pipeline across Syria to the Med.



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Sin Nombre3 days ago



In a simply huge way this piece just illustrates the extreme incoherence of our policies and meddlings in the Middle East.




Here, after all is Qatar which is hardly an enemy of ours, and which, at our request, exerts its influence to save our journalists who get caught by this or that group and etc.




And yet here we are, lunging in to be the Number 1 fighter against these groups, whose motivations we can hardly know and at the very least involve to a simply huge degree some religious impulses we are utterly incapable of understanding.




Why? Why do we care if Group A over there in Syria and/or Iraq is fighting Group B?




Well of course it isn't because it is in *our* interest to be doing so. Hell, if it were you hardly see us doing exactly what we are by this month fighting on Group B's side while last month we were cheering on Group A.




No, it's because we're simply trying to do whatever Israel wants us to do at the minute, and if that involves fighting those today who we cheered yesterday—as is the case in Syria—well so be it.




One day Israel says it doesn't like Assad, and the U.S. tries to work up a war against him.




And the next day Israel decides that it would be worse for it if those fighting Assad would win, and suddenly there's the U.S. waging war on the ISIS group it had just previously been cheering on.




Does *anyone* believe this is going to bring the U.S. anything other than the misery it has *already* brought us? The trillions upon trillions wasted. The lives blasted away or just blasted.




For reasons having *nothing* to do with genuine important U.S. interests.




But you can hardly expect anything else when you consciously don't go caring about your interests in the first place and instead sell yourself out to pursue someone else's.










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