Diplomacy

U.S. Allies Blast Qatar for Al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood Support

Qatar and Turkey are playing key roles in boosting hard line Islamic groups across the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., and Jordan are trying to support groups which are relatively more moderate. The Obama administration is, as a result, finding its regional posture being… complicated:

The regional divisions, described by senior U.S., European and Arab officials, are driven by religious, political and economic rivalries that have been exacerbated by the revolutions and rebellions that have swept across the Mideast and North Africa since early 2011. “There is no coherent Arab coalition,” a senior U.S. official said Monday, adding that the divisions now could spur a power struggle in the future…

“We have pretty fundamental disagreements on policy. We simply believe in different philosophies,” said a senior Arab official from this second faction in describing his government’s relationship with Qatar. “We believe in secularism and they support political Islam,” he added. “We believe in picking sides; they believe in picking both sides.”

The White House is trying to navigate a series of challenges in the region, not least of all WMD use in Syria and the potential that Egypt is becoming a failed state.

Meanwhile Doha and Ankara have reportedly provided money, material, and diplomatic support to Islamist movements – in particular various strands of the Muslim Brotherhood – at the expense of more moderate forces in the region.

Jordanian officials in particular have expressed anger over the dynamic. Now the controversy is breaking into the open in Washington. The Hill recently reported on Congressional concerns regarding Qatar’s regional role in general, and its actions in Libya in particular:

President Obama will meet with Qatar’s leader later this month amid rising concerns that the oil-rich Gulf State is supplying weapons to Islamist militants in Syria who could one day use them against U.S. interests… “We’ve got a problem with Libya. We’ve got a problem here,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) told The Hill. “The U.S. is talking to the Qataris, but at this point they’re out of step with the international community and with other Middle Eastern governments.”…

The administration had little to say on the record about reports that Qatari arms are flowing to Islamists. The country was also accused of arming Islamist hardliners in Libya, although no Qatari weapons have been traced back to the attackers who killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans at the U.S. mission in Benghazi last year.

Qatar is under increasing criticism for backing Al Qaeda elements in Mali, Al Qaeda elements in Syria, hard line Islamists in Egypt, and the Iran-backed terror group Hamas.

[Photo: RogDel / Wiki Commons]