The U.S. is looking positively upon how our “ally,” Qatar, is taking a more pro-active role in the region. It was the first Arab country to dedicate its military to overthrowing Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. Now, it’s taking the lead in Syria by helping arm the rebels so the U.S. can stay by the sidelines. But, our shortsightedness has long-term consequences.
Recently, a group called the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) raised about $6.5 million in Qatar. The group is led by Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, a top Muslim Brotherhood cleric who calls himself the “Mufti of Martyrdom Operations.” He never shies from supporting Hamas and suicide bombings and got into a bit of hot water in 2009 when he said that the Holocaust was a judgment upon the Jews from Allah. He prays that the Muslims will deliver the next judgment. In November, the IUMS declared that Muslims must “revive the duty of jihad in all its forms” and prepare for the destruction of Israel.
Not only was the fundraiser held in Qatar (which is also where Qaradawi lives and hosts a television show on Al-Jazeera), it was attended by Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani. Another member of the ruling family, Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al-Thani, donated about $1.4 million. The IUMS chose him as “Personality of the Year.”
Qatar has long supported the Brotherhood. In 1999, the Brotherhood even formally disbanded in the Qatar because it doesn’t view the ruling government as an adversary. Qatar now appears to be the biggest state sponsor of the Brotherhood, though Islamists in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and the rest of the Gulf provide major support as well.
The Muslim Brotherhood loudly fanned the waves of the revolution in Egypt from Qatar. Al-Jazeera is based in Doha, Qatar, and is closely connected to the Brotherhood. As Dr. Ahmad Jamil Azem observes, Al-Jazeera exempts the Qatari government from any bad press. Cairo University offers a course on democracy and human rights from the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar. The women running it wear face veils. One organization influential in the Egyptian revolution was the Academy of Change, led by Qaradawi’s son-in-law, Hisham Morsy, from Qatar.
Tunisia’s Foreign Minister, the son-of-law of the country’s new Islamist Prime Minister, used to direct the Al-Jazeera Center’s Research and Studies Division in Qatar. Money, supplies and personnel flowed to the Libyan Islamists, especially the Brotherhood, from Qatar. The Qatari government is backing the Islamists over the secularists in the struggle for the future of Libya. Sheikh Ali Sallabi, a Brotherhood cleric who lived in Qatar and is supported by the government, is now called “the chief architect of Libya’s most likely next government.” In Syria, Qatar’s same Libyan allies are teaming up with the rebels. The Syrian National Council, the Islamist-driven opposition body, met with Qaradawi in Qatar.
I’m not sure why or how, but at some point, the U.S. decided that the tiny Gulf nation of Qatar is a reliable ally whose new, assertive role in the region is to be welcomed. Today, Americans shake their heads in disbelief at how the West so naively turned a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s funding of radical Islam. One day in the near future, we’ll be shaking our heads over how we treated Qatar.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org's National Security analyst and a fellow with the Clarion Fund. He is the founder of WorldThreats.com and is frequently interviewed on Fox News.