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On Washington Investigating Qatar | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani meets with US President Donald Trump in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The ongoing row between Qatar on one hand and a bloc of four including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt on the other is largely based on allegations cast against Doha’s involvement in backing terror groups and rabble rousers.

The bloc, led by Saudi Arabia, issued a blacklist naming Qatari suspects and organizations engaged in terror operations.

For Qatar’s part, many officials denied accusations and claimed that the list is controversial and reflects intra-state disputes—“Do not believe them because the list is politicized and reflects disagreements among us as countries.”

The problem is that blacklisted Qatari parties are not exclusively barred by the bloc of four but are also designated by official United States institutions, such as the Department of the Treasury.

Alarmingly, the blacklist builds for the Qatar crisis taking on an international platform rather than being exclusive to Arab states alone.

All pinned names are one way or another related to Qatar, which calls for Doha to extradite and turn in all those residing on its territory. Taking into consideration the political spat Qatar has with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain, it is only left with one option, the United States, ushering in the Washington-Qatari investigations.

Showing potential, US contribution could have developed into a buffer zone, mitigating the conflict.

Instead of discussing the fine print and names, a Qatari official at the foreign ministry employed a hawkish analysis, arguing that the diplomatic crisis targets Doha’s reputation and that the states joining the boycott have imposed self-proclaimed custody over Qatar, setting up a field court to try the gas-rich peninsula.

In order for the truth not to be lost amid the four countries’ claims and Qatar’s denial, the Qataris can just end the problem by involving the Americans considering they are Doha’s friends and have information about the lists.

The matter concerns the entire international community and it does not only concern the Saudis, Egyptians, Emiratis, and Bahrainis. Therefore, it is an opportunity to cooperate and be transparent. All countries must lay out their cards on the table and accept cooperation instead of exchanging accusations.

And just like we’re asking Qatar to cooperate, we call on Saudi Arabia to accept this. All the countries involved in the dispute must accept this and accept an investigation and try those who are listed. The problem of Doha’s authorities is that those who are listed, including Saudi, Kuwaiti, and other accused figures, are linked to it.

For truth to prevail, Qataris can simply end the problem by involving Washington, given that they are Doha’s friends and have a clearer image and details on the lists.

Even though Qataris are listed on international and American lists, Qatar refuses to try them. This strengthens suspicions.

What’s worse is that most on those on the roster are still active in Syria, Libya, Egypt, Iraq and other conflict zones where terrorist groups operate.

The same goes for institutions and associations which are considered as bogus charity organizations. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE have made these institutions’ names public.

“The list included the names of charity organizations that have a long history in humanitarian work. Some of them have a consultative status at the UN,” the foreign ministry official said.

So why doesn’t Qatar silence its rivals and allow an international investigation to look into these institutions or shut them down especially that some of them are listed by the US and are effectively accused of sponsoring terrorism? Our brothers in Qatar, for their own sake and interest, must take the advice on ending this as the game is virtually over.

Qatar has befriended terrorist groups since the mid-1990s. At the beginning, it was publicizing al-Qaeda videos and propaganda in Afghanistan. Then Qatar’s activity expanded into areas where there are revolutions and it funded armed groups like al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham.

The road ends here and now, counterterrorism ranks first on the world’s priority list. The international community will pursue any country that provides any support to these groups. It will not be long before Doha finds itself caught up between the clamps of countries bigger than Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE.