Qatar’s continued support for Islamists has alienated its allies both in the region and abroad, a New York Times report published on Sunday argued.
The report cites a number of religious personalities that have been allowed to raise funds for al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front.
David Kirkpatrick, author of the article, also wrote that the Qatari state has on occasion provided some direct assistance, “to the Taliban of Afghanistan, Hamas of Gaza, rebels from Syria, militias in Libya and allies of the Muslim Brotherhood across the region.”
In response, Kirkpatrick said, next-door neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have rallied, along with Egypt, to portray the peninsular state “as a godfather to terrorists everywhere.”
The United States pentagon has even accused Qatar of being behind the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an allegation the analysts and Arab diplomats cited by the piece said was “implausible and unsubstantiated.”
In Libya, Qatar’s support of militias rivaling those supported by the United Arab Emirates has driven another wedge into relations with its next-door neighbor as the latter, the report states, is weary of Qatar’s support of the Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.
Kirkpatrick writes that Qatar further alienated the United States after extremists in a militia supported by the gulf state broke away to form their own militant group, Ansar al-Shariah, which “played a role in the death of the American ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens.”
He added that Qatar continues to back groups “loosely allied” with Ansar al-Shariah.
However, the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the report says, forced Doha to “recalibrate.”
The article says Western diplomats and Islamists who have worked with the Qatari state point that Doha has been refusing to provide money to the Brotherhood “for fear of further alienating its gulf neighbors who backed the takeover.”
“The big falling-out is over Egypt, not Syria,” Paul Salem, a scholar at the Middle East Institute is cited as saying in the article. Since the military has taken over in Cairo, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have all withdrawn their ambassadors from Doha.
The New York Times article also claims that there are other Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait where donations for al-Nusra Front were allowed to be collected. However, it stresses that United States Treasury officials have singled out both Qatar and Kuwait as “permissive jurisdictions” for terrorist fund-raising.