This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
Qatar’s massive financial support of the most extreme Jihadist movements in the Middle East and North Africa is not exactly a secret – notwithstanding the sheikhdom rulers’ half-hearted denials, and the nominal membership of Qatar in the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition.
Qatar, with a small territory, about 250,000 citizens, and a lot of oil money – some derisively call it “a bank, not a country” — some years ago made the strategic decision that, in order be taken seriously as a regional actor, it had to do things differently. It could not compete with regional power-houses such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, so it decided to undermine and weaken both countries by undermining and weakening their rulers and their allies in the region.
Qatar has been doing so in two ways:
In November 1996 Qatar has launched Al Jazeera, which, in addition to some mainstream news reporting and relatively open studio debates and call-in shows, has been a tool of the Qatari government in its propaganda and disinformation campaign to undermine the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, other Gulf Sheikhdoms, and other moderate states in the region (note that this applies to Al Jazeera in Arabic.
The English-language Al Jazeera operates in a manner which is largely similar to Western news outlets).
The other way Qatar has sought to weaken moderate government in the region is by providing massive financial aid to Jihadist groups in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and the Palestinian Territories.
The most recent piece of evidence pointing to Qatar’s deep involvement with Jihadist movements in the region is the revelation that two of al-Qaeda’s most senior financiers are living with impunity and operating without restrictions in Qatar, despite being on a worldwide terrorism blacklist. The revelations, made by American official in charge of sanctions, further expose the reality behind Qatar’s insistence that it does not support terrorist groups, including Jihadists in Syria and Iraq.
The Telegraph reports that the revelations will also add to growing calls on the British government to put pressure on Qatar to crack down on terrorist financiers following the murder of two British aid workers in Syria.
David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said that the two Qataris – Khalifa Muhammad Turki al-Subaiy and Abd al-Rahman bin Umayr al-Nuaymi – are living in Doha, the country’s capital, and are free to go as they please.