Jeddah – Qatari Emir’s inflammatory statements, which were blamed by the Qatari media on an alleged “cyber hacking”, were only a mere indication of the long crisis between the Arab peninsula and its neighbors, due to its controversial policies that have threatened the region’s stability and unity.
Qatar has sought to instigate crises all over the region, beginning with the coup perpetrated by the former emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, against his father in 1995.
Doha failed to absorb the lessons, even after the wave of anger against it, which has led Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain to withdraw their ambassadors from the country in March 2014. Qatar was acting outside a unified Arab consensus and its reactions have caused security confusion in the stable Gulf States.
While the “Muslim Brotherhood” – one of the extremist movements in the Gulf – was its main collaborator and partner, the Arab peninsula has responded to all accusations by adopting controversial policies within the Arab and Islamic region.
Saudi Arabia has been very patient with Qatar, even during the crisis of March 2014. The Kingdom was keen on preserving the GCC unity and respecting the values of good neighborliness. However, Qatar’s movements, especially within states bordering Saudi Arabia, have made the country lose its credibility within the GCC.
Riyadh had previously presented a file that contains clear evidence on financial support provided by a Qatari emir to extremist groups in the Kingdom, with the knowledge of the Qatari leadership. Saudi Arabia has in fact many proofs of Doha’s policies against it.
The collapse of the Muslim Brotherhood has paved the way for the emergence of quasi anti-Saudi movements, which have encouraged Qatar to penetrate into the Saudi entity, aiming to gain popular support.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Qatari Scholar Youssuf Al-Qaradawi has led a staunch attack against Gulf States, in particular the UAE, following the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in different parts of the region.
While the Qatari foreign ministry said that Qaradawi’s remarks were only his personal views and did not reflect the country’s official stance towards the Emirates, Doha was known to support outlaw groups and conspirators, who sought to topple the Emirati regime, through the Brotherhood. In fact, the latter was accused of rallying members within the UAE to hamper stability in the ambitious and prosperous Gulf state.
The Kingdom of Bahrain was the third country to pull its ambassador out of Doha. Qatari-owned Al Jazeera channel has long sought to inflame feuds that have resulted from developments over the past years.
Doha succeeded in fueling a silenced dispute when Al Jazeera English Channel aired a documentary on events and protests in Bahrain in February 2011.
The documentary showed that the protests were only aimed at achieving service needs and easing confessional tensions between the Sunni and Shi’ite communities.
Egypt, on many occasions, stood up against Qatar, especially following the success of the June 30 revolution, which has toppled the Muslim Brotherhood regime in the African state. Qatari media channels launched a harsh religious and political campaign against Cairo, accusing it of perpetrating an internal coup, as the Brotherhood was Doha’s right arm to spread its influence over Egypt.
Not only Qatar adopted a policy of enmity towards the Arab state, but also provided a safe haven to the leaders of the Brotherhood, who were accused by Egyptian courts of perpetrating terrorist acts that targeted Egypt’s safety and security.
One of the main vices perpetrated by Qatar in Syria is the division of the moderate Syrian opposition since 2012 and its support to al-Nusra Front, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda terrorist group. Qatar’s continuous sponsorship of the Brotherhood has made it end in backing extremists and terrorist-designated movements.
Qatar offered support to members of al-Qaeda terrorist group, in particular Abdul Hakim Belhaj to spread control over Libya. According to Libyan Army Commander General Khalifa Haftar, Doha has financed mercenaries and extremist groups. He noted that some of those people have received payments from Qatar, as well as from other states and from terrorist militias inside Libya.
Al Jazeera Channel
When Hamad came to power, he instated Al-Jazeera channel as a means to change the Arab media landscape. However, the channel soon began to influence Qatar’s interests and relations with its Arab neighbors. Instigating crises was something new to Gulf countries, and Saudi Arabia occupied a wide space in every political program.
Through the channel, Doha has shown failure to commit to GCC values, by broadcasting views and opinions that contradict unified stances, especially when it came to defense and security matters.
Iran and its wings
The Qatari emir conducted several visits to Iran, mainly during the Arab uprisings in 2011, when Sheikh Hamad traveled to Tehran and met with then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to discuss shared interests in the wake of regional developments.
Both Tamim and his father believe that Iran represents a strong religious and regional power. They have reiterated on several occasions that Doha was an ally to Tehran and was seeking to consolidate bilateral ties with the Persian state.
In October 2015, the two countries forged a military and security agreement under the slogan of fighting terrorism.
Doha has also offered to cooperate with Hezbollah – which some Gulf countries have designated as a terrorist organization.
In 2010, Saudi Arabia was seeking to crystallize reconciliation between Lebanon and Syria, when Qatar intervened and further complicated the crisis by presenting Hezbollah as a pressure card in the negotiations. Bashar al-Assad was tempted by Qatar’s economic deals at the expense of finding a sustainable solution to the crisis.
After Hamas gained control over Gaza Strip in 2007, Qatar began to promote its influential role in the area under the pretext of healing the humanitarian crisis there.
Doha poured money on Hamas Movement, which is known to support the Muslim Brotherhood, despite anger by Fatah Movement, who was aware that the money would be used to buy arms. This has also severed divisions among Palestinians.
Qatar has long supported terrorism and sponsored its members. In the late 1990s, the United States received information about a senior Qatari official who provided refuge to a terrorist accused of plotting airplane attacks against the US.
When the FBI issued the report ahead of the September 11 attacks, it said that the official, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, had managed to escape from Qatar. He was the mastermind of the New York terrorist attacks.