Qatar must have the courage to dump Brotherhood | GULF NEWS

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Wednesday June 14, 2017 - 10:23:10 in Maqaallo by nur yare
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    Qatar must have the courage to dump Brotherhood | GULF NEWS

    Doha leadership should take affirmative action by severing ties with extremist groups and Iran, besides 
expelling Al Qaradawi and shutting down Al Jazeera

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Doha leadership should take affirmative action by severing ties with extremist groups and Iran, besides 
expelling Al Qaradawi and shutting down Al Jazeera

At the prestigious Sandhurst Military Academy in Britain, Qatar’s Emir Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani surely must have studied cutting-edge courses in history, political science, and conflict resolution. This is where future world leaders are taught that leadership requires two major traits — which he seemingly lacks. One is called "courage” and the other, "imagination.” Courage would have seen him sacrifice everyone and everything in the Muslim Brotherhood to protect his country and its people from disrepute and isolation, while imagination would have pushed him to come up with ways to solve the current standoff with the Gulf Arab states.

Instead the 36-year old emir has acted in a haughty and irresponsible manner, backstabbing states that were good to him and his ancestors, like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and refusing to abide by a list of conditions signed up during the recent Riyadh summits, which include severing ties with both the Brotherhood and Iran, expelling Yousuf Al Qaradawi, and shutting down the notorious Al Jazeera television network. This raises serious worry about Shaikh Tamim’s wisdom, raising one fundamental question: "Is there something about this unholy alliance that we don’t understand? Why is Qatar taking risks for the sake of one terrorist organisation, "wanted” on all four corners of the globe?” Hosting the enemies of neighbours is a very old trick, dating back to Byzantium. These guests are always kept under strict surveillance, however, and never allowed to get too far or up in society — treated as tools, rather than people. When they have served their purpose, they are usually expelled, killed, or extradited to the country where they are most wanted — but only after tensions have cooled off.

Shaikh Tamim has no intention of parting ways with the Brotherhood. Most analysts have branded this alliance as a political marriage between the Qatari royals and the Egyptian Brothers, saying that Doha uses it to project its influence in the Arab world. That is true, of course, in addition to one small detail: Shaikh Tamim doesn’t seem to see them as terrorists. He really believes they are good people!”

Rising influence

One example of courage can be found in the history of Qatar. Sixty years ago, his grandfather, Shaikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Thani, had the courage to stand up to the Brotherhood. Then serving as education minister, he expressed serious concern about rising Brotherhood influence in Doha, whose members were overrunning the bureaucracy while infiltrating classrooms and schoolbooks. One of them was particularly dangerous: Abdul Badi Saqr, the director of education and future president of the Qatar National Library. Shaikh Khalifa had him sacked and replaced with a Syrian philosopher and Arab nationalist named Abdullah Abdul Daim, who held a PhD from the Sorbonne University. Many years later, I met Abdul Daim in Damascus, who recalled his tenure in Qatar saying: "The Muslim Brothers were a mafia in Doha; too strong to penetrate and too well-entrenched to uproot. They controlled everyone and everything and had total influence on the emir — influence that has been passed down from one generation to the next.” Furious with Abdul Daim for his refusal to mix Islam with politics, the Brotherhood forced him to resign a year later.

Since they first arrived in Qatar in the 1950s, disguised as schoolteachers, Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood have systematically infiltrated the upper echelons of power in Doha; serving as court intellectuals and advisers to four generations of Qatari royals. The policy was the brainchild of Al Qardawi, a sly and conniving character who was particularly close to Shaikh Tamim’s father, Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani. He is the architect of Qatar’s relationship with Hamas and with former Egyptian president Mohammad Mursi, and is also responsible for ideologically influencing thousands of fighters in the Syrian battlefield, who eventually joined either Daesh or the Al Nusra Front. Since first setting foot in the country back in 1961, Al Qaradawi prevented the Qataris from appointing a grand mufti, — like any ordinary Muslim country would do — insisting that he was the supreme religious authority in Doha.

Two weeks ago, Shaikh Tamim invited him for a Ramadan iftar and kissed his forehead before television cameras, despite Al Qaradawi’s reputation as an A-class terrorist. Although he personally harbours no hardline religious views, Shaikh Tamim has tremendous respect for the 90-year-old cleric, seeing him as an asset for Qatar, rather than a threat. The Qatari royals realise that if it were not for their tremendous wealth, few people would take their country seriously. Qatar after all lacks political depth and regional influence, and is surrounded by two Arab countries with plenty of both, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Qatar has always dreamt of becoming a Riyadh — with its history and political influence — or Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with their entrepreneurial spirit and wisdom, especially when it came to settling inter-Arab disputes.

Geography and history prevented them from being another Saudi Arabia, while irrationality and immaturity got in the way of them becoming another UAE. Instead, they decided to play the spoiler in Arab affairs — sparking fires throughout the region, through the Brotherhood, and then positioning themselves as the only ones capable of putting them out. Instead of wisdom and leadership, they chose one powerful tool: the ability to destabilise others, seeing it as the only way to leave their mark on current affairs and history. They did this always through the Brotherhood but have failed to realise that times have changed — and what worked 10-15 years ago can now get them into serious trouble, regionally and internationally.

Shaikh Tamim has failed to realise that the world is now very serious about the Muslim Brotherhood. Destroying them is no longer empty rhetoric — it’s a universal demand that he needs to abide by — regardless of his personal affection for the Brotherhood.Statesmanship requires real leaders to calculate risk and opportunity, and to understand the signals when times change. This is Politics 101. They are then required to take action in conformity with larger, stronger, and better established countries — another lesson that Shaikh Tamim seems to have missed at college.

Sami Moubayed is a senior fellow at 
St Andrews University in Scotland and author of Under the Black Flag.


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