ANALYSIS: How Qatar and Iran’s hardliners are very much alike politically

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“The Islamic Republic of Iran has as its ideal human felicity throughout human society, and considers the attainment of independence, freedom, and rule of justice and truth to be the right of all people of the world. Accordingly, while scrupulously refraining from all forms of interference in the internal affairs of other nations, it supports the just struggles of the mustad’afun (vulnerable) against the mustakbirun (arrogant) in every corner of the globe.”

To that end, “Iran may grant political asylum to those who seek it unless they are regarded as traitors and saboteurs according to the laws of Iran”.

Those are article 154 and 155 of the Iranian constitution drafted by Ayatollah Khomeini during the 1979 revolution and has been used as a legal and moral pretext by Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards to justify the formation of armed militias across the region.

“The vulnerable in the land” is an expression that originated in the Holy Quran, but the Khomeinist machine has used it as moral pretext in supporting extremist groups across the region that supported their revolution, politically or ideologically. Chief among them are Islamist movement Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group, the supporters of Islam in Kurdistan and even al-Qaeda.

As for the Shiites across the region, Iran uses its constitution to justify supporting extremist group like the Lebanese Hezbollah party, the al-Houthis in Yemen, and other extremist groups in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

This idea, however, does not appear to be limited to the Khomeinist regime, as Qatar followed it under the reign of the Father Emir Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani until today, in order to justify its political, media and financial support to the Muslim Brotherhood and all its branches of military and political groups in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Tunisia, extending to Central Asia, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

This role even extended to the Gulf region, since the early nineties, by supporting what it called the “liberation movements”, the Qatari version of the so-called “vulnerable to the land,” specifically in Saudi Arabia, coinciding with the invasion of Iraq to Kuwait, through the so-called “Awakening” and the resulting branches of opposition settled in Britain as well, such as the reformation group led by Saad al-Faqih and Mohammed al-Mas’ari.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) and then Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani arrive at a cornerstone laying ceremony for a residential neighborhood in Gaza Strip on October 23, 2012. (Reuters)
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) and then Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani arrive at a cornerstone laying ceremony for a residential neighborhood in Gaza Strip on October 23, 2012. (Reuters)

This came out through the ambiguous voice recording of then-Emir of Qatar Hamad Al-Thani in a conversation with former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi calling for the overthrow of the Saudi regime, as well as another recording of his foreign minister and Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim saying the same thing.

Doha and its decades-long intercontinental relations with extremist and armed radical groups (both Sunni and Shiite) have been a card of interest and influence to secure any position on the global political map.

This was in addition to the strengthening of Qatar’s presence in Libya in a number of cities, particularly Benghazi, Tripoli and Misurata, through supporting radical Islamic movements such as the Ansar al-Sharia, Fajr-LIBYA, LIFG and various armed groups. In addition to embracing names on the lists of terrorism, headed by Abdul Hakim Belhadj, leader of the Libyan Fighting Group close to al-Qaeda, and Ali Salabi and Salah Badi.

In Tunisia, leader of the Islamist Ennahdha Party Rached Ghannouchi said in an interview in a Qatari newspaper in June 2012: “Qatar is partner in the revolution through its media contribution by Al Jazeera channel and its encouraging of the revolution even before it succeeded.”

“We are grateful to Qatar and its Emir in encouraging investment in Tunisia,” Ghannouchi added.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali khamenei (R), meets with former Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani in Tehran, 01 May 2006. (AFP)
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali khamenei (R), meets with former Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani in Tehran, 01 May 2006. (AFP)

In May 2015, former Tunisian Foreign Minister Touhami Abdouli called for the disconnection between his country and Qatar, and warned about the consequences of the continued flow of corrupt Qatari finances to Tunisian associations and NGOs that have suspicious activities which increased during the reign of the Islamic Renaissance Movement.

In Iraq, since the US invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein’s regime, the Qatari media has adopted the propaganda of extremist organizations such as al-Qaeda and Zarqawi’s organization, and even hosted some of its leaders.

As the Wall Street Journal confirmed in a previous report, the US Treasury Department is currently tracking large amounts of funding for charity organizations and social networking sites in Qatar to support extremists in Iraq and Syria.

On the other hand, Qatar in Afghanistan followed the rhythm of the movement of Islamic extremist groups in Kabul and Kandahar, which was to maintain warm relations with the Taliban, which resulted in the opening of the movement’s political office in Doha in June 2013, preceded by the residence of dozens of high-ranking leaders in Qatar after gaining political asylum for themselves and their families.

On May 30, 2013, Qatar signed an agreement with the Obama administration, the previous president of United States, which included the release of five key Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo who were transferred to Doha in exchange for the release of the US soldier Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was under Taliban custody as a hostage for nearly five years.

Among those released were Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwah, the Interior Minister of the Taliban regime, Mullah Mohammad Fadhil Akhund, the Taliban’s defense minister and one of its most important military leaders, and Mullah Abdul Haq Watheeq, deputy director of intelligence for the Taliban regime and co-founder of Taliban.

To this day, Qatar has had a significant presence and influence in financing and supporting radical and extremist groups such as Al-Nusra Front, the al-Qaeda branch in Syria, as well as armed factions and movements affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Qatar also encourages the disorder in Yemen by supporting the Houthis, the Shiite opposition in Bahrain and its demonstrations, as well as media support for terrorist acts in the restive eastern region of Saudi Arabia.

This is in addition to maintaining special relations with Hezbollah, which is on the list of international and Gulf designated terrorist groups, which Qatar considers as a “resistance movement”. Perhaps the clearest illustration of these remarkable relations is the support given by Qatar in 2008 to Hezbollah and its allies (the March 8 alliance). Against the Future Movement and its allies (the March 14 alliance) in what was then known in Lebanon as the “Doha Agreement”. Nabih Berri, Speaker of the parliament of Lebanon since 1992 and one of Hezbollah’s strongest ally, commented during his visit to then Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, saying: “The first thing of the rain is a drop (Qatra in Arabic) ... So what if it is Qatar.”

This combination was formed between the Brotherhood and the Salafist cloak, which was embodied in the trend of Muhammad Surur Zine El Abidine, a former Syrian Muslim Brotherhood member. He is credited with developing the Islamist trend that later came to be known as Sururism.

محمد سرور
محمد سرور

He resided in Qatar when he passed away and was buried there in November 2016. His funeral was attended by then Qatari Emir and all Qatari officials attended his funeral, which shows Qatar’s sponsorship of extremist movements.

This combination is an approach that explains Doha’s sponsorship of various streams of political Islamist movements such as Hamas, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the Sururians, and radical jihadist movements, including the Shiite militant movements like Hezbollah in Lebanon.

It is worth mentioning the famous word of the founder of the “Sururi” movement or what is sometimes known as the “Al Sahawy” trend of Muhammad Surur, which was said in in an interview during his stay in Qatar and where he criticized the Salafi scholars saying: “The Wahhabi unification is a dry unification, which is free of politics, he wanted it to be vaccinated with political flavor, this was rejected by the great scientists such as the late Ibn Baz and Ibn Uthaymeen”.

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