Pilgrims or terrorists, who deserves Qatar's wealth?

  • Tamim Bin Hamad

Although it’s an oil-rich country with high GDP per capita, and instead turning this small nation of a quarter-million people into the Monaco of the Gulf by using its vast wealth to benefit all those who live there, Qatar uses its billions to directly fund terror groups throughout the region.

The nation is bankrolling the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Al-Nusra Front and is widely known to support the radical Islamist opposition in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and the Shiite opposition in Bahrain.

That support and the Gulf nation's tense relations with Saudi Arabia, which broke off diplomatic ties with Qatar in June over its backing for those would-be violent Saudi opponents, made it difficult for many Qataris to participate in this year's Hajj. Qatar Airways, the large Gulf air carrier, is prohibited from flying into Saudi Arabia.

While the Qatari regime was busy trying to exploit the situation by falsely claiming it is they who are under siege, all Qataris who wish to fulfill their religious obligation and participate in this year's Hajj were finally able to do so easily, thanks to Qatari Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani - whose brother, Qatari Emir Sheikh Ahmad bin Ali Al-Thani.

Not only is Saudi Arabia opening its land borders to all Qataris, but also transports Qatar's many pilgrims via private jets and at its own cost. Despite that, the Qatari regime has incredibly rejected this generous offer and refused entry of Saudi private jets at Doha Airport.

It took just one man to get the Saudis to change their minds. Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani visited Saudi Arabia to sit with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud and persuade him that allowing all Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation should take priority over political difficulties. He argued that relations between the two neighboring Gulf nations should not be affected because of the foolishness of the one.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa noted how unusual this step was. "The facilitation of Qatari Hajj pilgrims ordered by King Salman [has] never been done before for any Islamic country and even under regular circumstances," he said August 17 on Twitter.

Yet why was it that Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani, someone outside the official government, was the one able to accomplish something that the Qatari government should have been doing?

Why was it Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani who announced a few days ago a phone number of his own for any Qataris having trouble making pilgrimage to call and the good sheikh would ensure their free and easy passage? Where is the government in all this?

Rather than directly supporting terrorism and opposition forces at every turn, a strong Qatari government should be taking aggressive steps to ensure good relations with its neighbors, and that its citizens be able to meet their religious obligations with ease and comfort.

Instead, this failed state is unable to fend for itself, wasting not only its natural gas wealth on destabilizing the region, but also squandering its political capital.

What kind of nation becomes a pariah state in only a very few years, blockaded not only by the Saudis but also by the Emiratis, Bahrainis and even the Egyptians? Why are so many Qataris afraid to identify themselves as from this once-wonderful land when traveling outside it?

It is a sad day for a country with such a history as Qatar to be governed so meekly and incompetently as the Qatari government is now.

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