A shady ally? Qatar accused of supporting terrorism

Erick Stakelbeck

WASHINGTON — Eleven billion dollars of advanced American weaponry: Apache helicopters, Patriot missile batteries, anti-tank missiles — all for a small Muslim nation in the Persian Gulf that can barely be found on a map. Qatar may not be a familiar name to most Americans, but as this summer’s massive arms deal shows, the Qataris are among the Obama administration’s closest allies in the Middle East. East. Yet Qatar faces harsh criticism from neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates: they and Egypt have severed relations with the small kingdom because it supports the Muslim Brotherhood. A Hamas cohort? An Israeli official even called Qatar “the world’s largest financier of terrorism,” thanks to its close alliance with Hamas. “Qatar supports Hamas in three ways,” said Lori Plotkin-Boghardt, a researcher at the Washington Institute. “The first is financial: Qatar provides Hamas with hundreds of millions of dollars.” “Number two is politics,” she continued. “Qatar’s leader was the first national of an Arab state to visit Hamas-ruled Gaza in 2012.” “And the third way in which it supports Hamas, we can say, is physically: Qatar is the host and home of the political leaders of Hamas,” she said. In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Qatar’s emir called on world governments to ignore Israeli officials, accusing the Jewish state of “war crimes” during its recent operation against Hamas in Gaza. “Qatar has pledged more than half a billion dollars over the past decade to Hamas governments, Hamas infrastructure projects and Hamas loyalists in the Gaza Strip,” David Weinberg said , senior researcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. said. Weinberg told CBN News that U.S. officials had noticed Qatar’s warm relations with Hamas. “We have recently seen public statements from Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Intel Committee, as well as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce – both raising concerns about Qatar’s record in this respect,” Weinberg said. Some explain what to do In July, Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., sent a letter to Obama administration officials urging them to end their close alliance with Qatar. “It is an indisputable fact that Qatar has become the main sponsor of Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel,” Roskam wrote. “The Obama administration must explain before our eyes its working partnership with a country that so brazenly funds terrorism.” During the recent war between Israel and Hamas, Secretary of State John Kerry drew sharp criticism for portraying Qatar as an honest broker who could help broker a ceasefire between the two sides, despite Qatar’s open support for Hamas. “This was Qatar’s opportunity to shine on the international stage while the world watched these negotiations,” Plotkin-Boghardt told CBN News. “And Qatar has shown itself to be a supporter of Hamas rather than an effective mediator.” The Obama administration has previously used Qatar as a mediator, most recently to secure the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of the Taliban earlier this year. The Taliban even have an office in Doha, the Qatari capital. Al Jazeera too. The controversial network, accused of being anti-American and mouthpiece for radical Islamists, is based in Qatar. “The relationship is extraordinarily close,” Weinberg said. “For many years, the Qatari government subsidized Al Jazeera.” Fund ISIS? The most explosive accusation against Qatar is that it helped finance jihadists in Syria, including ISIS and the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, two groups targeted by U.S. airstrikes. The Qatari government categorically denies this. But a senior Treasury Department official said last March that wealthy private donors living in Qatar had sent funds to the jihadists. The official called Qatar a “permissive” environment for terrorist fundraising. But with the Qataris involved in the fight against ISIS and Qatar hosting a major US air base, one should not expect a change in relations anytime soon. “This strategic relationship seems to outweigh almost everything that is difficult about this relationship,” Plotkin-Boghardt said.

About the Author

Erick Stakelbeck is a sought-after authority on Middle East and national security issues, with extensive experience in television, radio, print and digital media. A 2013 Jerusalem Post profile noted that “in evangelical Christian circles, Stakelbeck is considered by many to be the leading authority” on issues of terrorism, radical Islam and the Middle East. Since 2005, Stakelbeck has been a correspondent, host and analyst for CBN News, where his reporting and commentary is seen by more than a million daily viewers in the United States alone. It covers American national security,


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