MIDDLE EAST

When Qatari officials shot themselves in the foot

Qatari officials defend their countries in western media outlets but they are, in fact, unknowingly attacking it and embarrassing it as they have shown their government as contradictory and hypocritical.

Former US President Barack Obama recently mocked this contradictory rhetoric when he said Qatar’s emir is a reformer except when it comes to his own country. He cynically laughed after making this statement.

They play the same old game, which relies on marketing two contradictory speeches at the same time: a local one that pleases the Muslim Brotherhood in Doha and Cairo and a foreign one that pleases liberal leftists in London and New York. This contradictory rhetoric has not only been exhausted and it is not only useless but it also harms the cause it defends.

There are three arguments they repeatedly bring up. The first one is that the four countries that cut ties with Qatar decided to do so because the latter spreads democracy and gives people the right to decide their fate. Qatari Ambassador to Russia Fahad Al-Attiyah recently appeared on Al-Jazeera television and raised slogans of freedom and revolution and attacked backward and authoritarian countries.

Those who listen to him would think the regime in Doha is democratic as per the Jefferson democracy – and not like we all know it as a system that has nothing to do with elections or parliamentary traditions. The non-democratic Qatar is vilifying Arab and Gulf countries because they are not democratic. It is marketing the idea that the four countries attacked it because of its democracy. Can there be greater hypocrisy and contradiction than this? Such a logic wouldn’t even convince Qatari citizens.

Democracy, liberalism and freedom of expression are all weak excuses that Qatari officials are trying to make to the western audience but they’re actually weakening Doha’s position, exposing its contradiction and showing its different masks

Mamdouh AlMuhaini

‘Liberal ideas’

The second argument Doha is making in the western hemisphere is that “obscurantist rivals” are attacking it because it is spreading liberal ideas. This is a big lie that is hard to swallow. It is not only false but it also opposes the facts we are familiar with.

The Qatari government played a big role in granting legitimacy to extremists from all the over the world. Outcast extremists in Egypt and Saudi Arabia – who found themselves stranded – found a safe haven in Qatar as it financially supported them and allowed them to spread their deviant ideology.

The recent crisis has exposed this relation as symbols of extremism rose to defend it and terrorist organizations’ muftis stood by its side. Such figures would not stand up to defend Doha if it was the beacon of enlightenment and liberalism as they claim.

Despite all this, Qatari officials claim that the dispute has happened because Doha is the “capital of enlightenment”. It’s as if Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who issued fatwas permitting suicide operations, is Martin Luther King who will launch major reforms.

It’s such a staggering excuse. Doha does not only support so-called extremist intellectuals but it has also waged a war against moderate thinking. Qatari-funded campaigns have been launched against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates by well-known extremists or through thousands of social networking accounts. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are fighting a fierce financial and ideological war against terrorism and extremism.

‘Freedom of expression’

The third argument is that Qatar was boycotted because it believes in freedom of expression. This would have been true if Qatar had not turned media platforms into political wings to further its own objectives while hiding behind journalism and freedom of opinion. Their politicized media platforms are almost completely void of any journalistic work.

For example, they used their channels and websites for live broadcast to attack the Egyptian state. They did not do so to defend freedom of expression but to support the Brotherhood and extremist organizations they are allied with.

Democracy, liberalism and freedom of expression are all weak excuses that Qatari officials are trying to market to the western audience but they’re actually weakening Doha’s position, exposing its contradiction and showing its different masks which it chooses based on the occasion.

This media rhetoric reflects the old mentality in dealing with the crisis when they think it’s easy to deceive people like they did in the past. Truth is these Qatari officials are shooting themselves in the foot every time they resort to such excuses.
This article is also available in Arabic.
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Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms. He can be followed on Twitter @malmhuain.

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Last Update: Monday, 10 July 2017 KSA 12:01 - GMT 09:01
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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