Why Qatar-US deal to fight terror financing is not enough
The current crisis between the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) and Qatar is still without a solution, despite the very great efforts exerted by the Kuwaiti mediators. In addition, there have been international efforts made by Germany, Britain, the US and France.
The issue is not a complicated one but it is worsened by Doha’s denial and a lack of commitment to a document signed in 2014 by the Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
The document was designed to stop the funding of terrorism, bolster the stability of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Arab countries and also to end Qatar’s harboring of terrorist organizations. The document also addressed problems seen as coming from Al Jazeera, which is widely believed to have used its power to incite terror and to have become a media platform for Al-Qaeda, Daesh, Hezbollah and other Iranian militias.
Any mediation which fails to tackle these issues will be a waste of time. Our region has suffered from terrorism and it is time to end it by stopping Qatar’s support of extremist groups, as well as in countering Iran and its militias.
Iran is now on the same side as Qatar as a result of the boycott of the tiny state. Qatar has funded Iran and its militias in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon and made them heroes on Al Jazeera. In addition, Qatar has funded terrorist organizations that helped Iran to interfere directly in our region. As a result of Qatari help, Iran’s terrorist militias have caused the disintegration of Arab countries such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.
International diplomatic efforts in the Gulf rift have been centered around the interests of the mediators who have economic stakes in Qatar; a political solution would allow them to contain this crisis and counter terrorism in general. We see too that both Iran and Turkey have their own economic interests in Qatar, which is the reason for their standing with Doha.
The agreement does not ask Doha to stop its support of the Muslim Brotherhood, nor does it ask Qatar to stop funding Iranian actions or to downgrade its diplomatic ties with Tehran.
Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) to fight terrorism funding that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed with Qatar was the result of pressure applied by the ATQ, and it represents a public admission of guilt on Doha’s part.
The MoU does not ask Qatar to stop its interference in Arab and GCC affairs; it does not ask Doha to stop its support of the Muslim Brotherhood and harboring its members in Qatar. Nor does it ask Qatar to stop funding Iranian actions or to downgrade its diplomatic ties with Tehran.
If we want to counter terrorism, we must starve the beast and also stop Al Jazeera’s incitement against other Arab countries, which undermines their stability.
We must face up to terrorism seriously and as a group because if there is no strategy to stop funding terrorism, curbing Iran and dismantling and eliminating its militias, no solution will be reached — and we will still be faced with the same scourge that has brought the region to the impasse it is in today.
• Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri is a political analyst and international relations scholar.