I remember I heard this phrase about Qatar when disputes between it and its ally Bashar al-Assad worsened at the end of 2011. What happened to Qatar also happened to its ally Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish and Qatari regimes bet on the “strategic relation” which has linked them to the new Syrian president since 2004.
Through this relation based financial generosity, the Qataris and Turks advised Bashar to make reforms and not use violence against his people. However when he did not take their advice into consideration, they resorted to the same methods they had advised Assad against.
They armed extremists who destroyed the Syrian revolution without causing the least damage to Assad.
The entire world thus came to combat terrorism alongside the peaceful, secular and enlightening regime that cannot harm a fly! What happened in Syria also happened in Lebanon and Qatar had a hand in it.
After the 2006 War and Hezbollah’s claims that it achieved “divine victory,” Qatar’s former emir visited Lebanon and toured Beirut’s Dahiyeh (southern suburb) in solidarity with the resistance.
Meanwhile, the resistance accused the Lebanese government, which helped reach the UN Security Council Resolution 1701 to protect Lebanon from Israel, of working for the enemy.
What was a mere piece of news became a public behavior clearly seen in the massive transactions and deals in Syria and Iraq. These deals were against the interest of the Syrian and Iraqi peopleRadwan al-Sayed
When the Lebanese government began collecting donations to rebuild what the Israeli aggression had destroyed, Qatar refused to donate funds to the Lebanese government but directly donated to Hezbollah and to the Amal Movement to rebuild four towns in South Lebanon.
Qatar was rewarded with banners lifted in Dahiyeh. The banners read: “Thank you Qatar.” Qatar was thanked again later when Hezbollah invaded Beirut to force the Lebanese cabinet to quit. Back then Hezbollah rewarded Qatar by holding a meeting in Doha for rival Lebanese parties and Hezbollah took what it wants from the defeated parties of the March 14 coalition.
Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood
The third and more important incident related to these Qatari policies is Qatar’s stance from the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the people’s election of a president to replace Mohammed Mursi. Qatar viewed what happened as a coup and harbored Brotherhood fugitives and their leaders. For more than three years now, Qatar has been launching a massive campaign against Egypt.
It also equipped and funded the Brotherhood’s activity. Qatar claims its interest in the Brotherhood has humanitarian basis. However Qatar’s actions went way beyond that when it considered itself launching a military campaign to bring Mursi back to power through Al-Jazeera television channel. And what’s greater than Al-Jazeera channel!
No one must be fooled into believing that Qatar’s stance from Egypt is based on concern over legitimacy as it’s claimed. In Libya, for example, Qatar stands with different armed groups against the elected parliament and the Libyan national army.
Alliance with Iran
Let’s go back to the major subject which is the Iranian one. More than two years ago, news about an agreement – that resembled an alliance – between Iran and Qatar was leaked. Among the agreement’s items is training the Qatari navy in the Iranian island of Qeshm. This was surprising because between 2011 and 2013, the two parties publicly clashed due to Qatar’s stance from the Syrian revolution and Iran and its militias’ interferences in favor of Assad.
Back then, someone told me that Qatar shares a gas field with Iran and does not want to harm relations with it. This is definitely not an excuse because sharing a gas field must not push towards allying against Arab and Gulf neighbors! What was a mere piece of news became a public behavior clearly seen in the massive transactions and deals in Syria and Iraq. These deals were against the interest of the Syrian and Iraqi people.
The result of these deals were seen through al-Nusra Front’s release of Lebanese soldiers and an Iraqi Shiite militias’ release of Qatari “fishermen.” Displacing people and altering Syria’s demography is happening by Qatari arrangements which the Iranians and their militias, including Hezbollah, and the Syrian regime benefit from.
The Qatari wealth was a bliss to the Qatari people and to all Arab and foreign workers in the country. However, due to playing smart and the determination to increase influence, Qatar’s bliss turned into a curse on the Qatari people and other Arabs.
We used to say so about Qaddafi’s regime as Qaddafi used to break the norm and harm brothers and close ones for no logical reasons.
Qatar must return to its senses and look after its commitments and respect its sense of belonging. This is what must be done for the bliss to remain a bliss and for Arabs to remain brothers. We are in no need for further exhaustion by supporting extremist groups.
It’s not right to be biased towards the rival and the enemy, be it Iran or Israel, to be spared from evil because by doing so, one brings trouble upon himself.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Radwan al Sayed is a Lebanese thinker and writer who attained a bachelor degree from the Faculty of Theology at al-Azhar University and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tübingen in Germany. He has been a scholar of Islamic studies for decades and is the former editor-in-chief of the quarterly al-Ijtihad magazine. Radwan is also the author of many books and has written for Arab dailies such as al-Ittihad, al-Hayat and ash-Sharq al-Awsat.