Qatar has long made little effort to hide its support for Islamist groups in the Middle East, that the emirate is now facilitating the growth of political Islam in the West has parallels, revealed The Times.
There is less agreement as to why a tiny state with by far the world’s richest per-capita income should have chosen to facilitate and fund the work of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Islamist factions that have waged war from Syria to Libya.
David Roberts, of King’s College London, a former director of the Qatar office of the Royal United Services Institute, said Qatar saw a logic in engaging with “so-called moderate Islamists” as a firewall that “prevents people from going even further into extremism and terrorism”.
Qatar enjoys the “cushioning luxury of being able to “encourage Islamist groups that operate outside it because it has no worries about Islamists causing disruption within the Qatari state”.
“They see it as perfectly reasonable and sensible. Their premise is that these groups are a reality and we can’t wish them away so we need to engage with them. And they’d see no difference between supporting Islamists in the Gulf and doing so in the UK.”
A former British diplomat, who asked not to be named, said that “Qatar has ended up using the Brotherhood for almost everything they do, from intervention in Syria and Libya to their support for terrorist groups with which the Brotherhood has friendly relations.
“They’re all essentially Islamist revolutionary movements. The only difference between them is the methodology.”