The Arab Gulf alliance of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recently reinstated their 13 demands on Qatar to restore relations and end sanctions. “We reiterate the importance of Qatar’s compliance with the 13 demands outlined by the four states,” said a joint statement released by the foreign ministers on July 31.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is attempting to mediate the conflict and stick to the ‘six principles’ that were established during his last trip to the region after the conflict broke out. Yet, the Qatari position is deteriorating. Bloomberg reports Qatari banks are on the brink of collapse, with resources dwindling. Perhaps the alliance is sticking to their original position as they see a chance to end this dire terror threat to the security in the Middle East, once and for all.
The vacuum left by the Obama administration — which removed the vast majority U.S. troops from Iraq, and the majority of forces from Afghanistan — was quickly filled by the murderous terrorists of the Islamic State. But Qatar contributed to instability by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood— a transnational, radical Islamist movement. This reality has burdened the American military and led to more American deaths, military and civilian. The situation was also taken advantage of by Russia and Iran, a Shia Islamic theocracy.
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Today, pro-Iranian militias, such as Hezbollah, operate freely from Qom to the Mediterranean, in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Hamas chiefs recently met with the Iranian leaders — they for sure were not talking about orphan adoption — maybe making more orphans.
Hezbollah and Hamas rain terror on Israel, and spread their cells around the globe. Iran and its allies are backed by increasingly effective and deadly Russian weapons, such as S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, which make the task of destroying Iranian nuclear bomb-making facilities that more difficult.
However, Iran is not alone. The Emirate of Qatar has been harboring and financing extremists all over the world, not just the Middle East. Their Al-Jazeera Arabic TV network has given terrorists preachers the ability to spread their hate and incitement to violence throughout the Muslim and Western world.
This cannot stand.
In a recent congressional hearing, Dr. Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a former Treasury senior official in the Bush administration, explained the dangers of Qatar’s unrepentant financial support for Islamic terrorists and killers, as well as harboring them within its borders. In testimony submitted to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on July 26, Dr. Levitt said, “The United States has also long criticized the Qatari government for its lax counterterrorism policies, and in particular shortcomings regarding efforts to combat terrorist financing… In recent years, Qatar has housed leaders from Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Taliban, and has also provided a platform for extremist leaders to spread their ideology through shows on Al-Jazeera.”
Stability in the Middle East has been continually threatened, in no small part due to the activities of the Qatari regime. Qatari support for the Arab Spring, a domino-like uprising that swept its way across North Africa to Syria beginning in 2010, unleashed a tidal wave of death and loss of wealth not seen since the great wars of the twentieth century.
The Arab Spring quickly turned to an extremist winter, as Qatar enabled the Muslim Brotherhood to seize power in Egypt, and attempt it in Libya and Syria — with catastrophic results. Blame for all of this instability and destruction can be laid squarely at the feet of the al-Thani ruling family in Doha: the father Hamad, who ruled until 2013, until he abdicated in favor of the son Tamim, who continued the two-faced policy of ‘friendship’ with the U.S. while supporting its enemies: Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Taliban.
It will take time, a lot of money and a new generation to repair the havoc this tiny emirate has wrought in the Middle East. I fear a generation has been lost to the ideology of extremism and the murder it prescribes. However, before the healing can begin, there must be an effort to cleanse the Arab and the Muslim world from the virus of violent Islamism spread by Qatar.
Qatari support for extremists across the board must be stopped. Pulling the plug on the mind-bending hate programming that emanates from Al-Jazeera is a good place to start. Healthy public participation and popular support for reforms in the region is needed, but this cannot happen until the sources of jihadi funding for extremists across the board are dried up completely. Qatar’s turning a blind eye to terrorist financing must end.
The unholy alliance between Moscow, Tehran and Damascus in the Middle East is a bitter reality. The loss of American power projection capability in the region is an even more bitter reality. The tragic, and completely avoidable, waste of American blood and treasure is a sunk cost that cannot be recovered. However, there are concrete steps that can be taken to move America, its allies and stability in the region, forward.
To face down this new Shia/Russian alliance, Washington must create a Sunni Arab/American wall against Iranian expansion that is aided and abetted by the Russians. Israel will definitely support such a coalition. We must mend fences with our allies in the Gulf that were torn apart by the Obama-era appeasement of Iran, and downright aiding and abetting of Iranian and Qatari terror.
The Trump administration has started to increase pressure on Iran through sanctions, in spite of the State Department-led certification of the JCPOA, aka the disastrous Iranian nuclear deal. This is a great start.
However, what really caught Iran’s attention was the massive arms deal recently signed with Saudi Arabia. The administration must continue to promote the idea that America will stand with its Arab Gulf allies against Iran by enhancing their defenses and protecting American interests, militarily if need be.
America created the monster in Tehran by allowing the Iranian nuclear and missile development to go forward, and providing the funding now used for weapons purchases. Washington also tolerated Qatari terror support for too long. We should therefore help protect our allies from the consequences — including by bringing Qatar back in line.
Article first posted at The Washington Times