Magazine article The Spectator

Qatar: Whose Side Are They On?

Magazine article The Spectator

Qatar: Whose Side Are They On?

Article excerpt

Qatari money has flooded into London - but also into much less savoury places

On 17 June, a meeting of the Henry Jackson Society, held in the House of Commons, discussed (according to the minutes published on the society's website) how a tribal elder in northern Cameroon who runs a car import business in Qatar has become one of the main intermediaries between kidnappers from Boko Haram and its offshoot Ansaru and those seeking to free hostages. It was alleged that embezzlement of funds going to Qatar via car imports might be disguising ransom payments. It was also alleged that Qatar was involved in financing Islamist militant groups in West Africa, helping with weapons and ideological training, and (with Saudi Arabia) funding the building of mosques in Mali and Nigeria that preach a highly intolerant version of Islam.

This was far from the only time such accusations have been levelled. Yet Qatar is supposed to be one of our allies, supporting air strikes against the Islamic State. Its ruler even thinks his enormous wealth entitles him to blag his way into Her Majesty's carriage at Royal Ascot. Given Qatar's questionable role in the current tide of savage Islamism, should its ruler be allowed anywhere near our Queen? And should they be allowed to buy up our country, as they have done relentlessly since the crash of 2008?

After the overthrow of President Morsi of Egypt, Qatar became a place of refuge for the Muslim Brotherhood. However, on 12 September it asked several leading Brotherhood figures to leave. They duly did, not in outrage or indignation, but apologising for causing embarrassment. Clearly, they felt a debt to the Qataris, and a senior Brotherhood spokesman, Amr Darrag, said what it was. He issued a statement thanking Qataris for their support to 'the Egyptian people in their revolution against the military junta'.

Qatar asked its former friends to leave because of pressure applied by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Some may come to London: there is already a group of Brotherhood members in Cricklewood, under scrutiny from the authorities. But even now, Qatar remains home to an array of exiled Islamists, and thus a focus of suspicion to its neighbours. Bahrain joined Saudi Arabia and the UAE in withdrawing its ambassador from Doha this spring. It has been widely reported that Qatari money funds extremists in Libya, and when these ambassadors were recalled, the Zionist Organisation of America asked the US government to declare Qatar a state sponsor of terrorism.

The Emir of Qatar's personal fortune and the country's sovereign wealth fund are rumoured to amount to £50 billion. Qataris own substantial amounts of real estate -- such as the Shard, the Olympic Village, One Hyde Park, a part of Canary Wharf, the United States Embassy building in Grosvenor Square, the Chelsea Barracks development and Harrods. They have large stakes in the stock exchange, Sainsburys and Barclays bank. Almost all Britain's liquefied natural gas comes from Qatar, accounting for a quarter of our gas needs. The desert state has also bought the 2022 World Cup -- rather like playing a cricket Test series at the South Pole -- in a fashion so seemingly corrupt that there have been widespread calls for a boycott.

Sir John Jenkins, the British ambassador to Saudi Arabia, has compiled a report exposing extremist activity among members of the Brotherhood and their links to jihadis. It named three Muslim charities in Britain that seemed to be sending funds to extremists in the Middle East. …

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