Arabs: Why is Obama Siding with Supporters of Terrorism? by Khaled Abu Toameh
Many Arabs and Muslims see the meeting between Obama and Qatar’s al-Thani as a gift to Qatar for its continued support of Islamic radical groups across the Middle East, including Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.On the eve of Obama’s meeting, Egyptian sources revealed that Qatar was providing weapons and ammunition to members of the Islamic State in Libya. The sources said that 35 Qatari aircraft were involved in the resupply.Arab political analysts are also concerned about Obama’s ongoing attempts to appease Iran, which continues to expand its presence in Arab countries such as Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon — as well as in Syria, where it is deeply involved in backing Hezbollah and operating along the border with Israel. A Reuters report revealed that Iran also has hundreds of advisors in Iraq.Qatar is also one of the biggest funders of Hamas, whose leader, Khaled Mashaal, is based in Qatar’s capital, Doha. During the past few years, Qatar has provided Hamas with hundreds of millions of dollars — money used to purchase and develop weapons to attack Israel.By the time Obama leaves the White House, Iran will most likely be in control of more Arab countries, and Qatari-backed terror groups will be much stronger.
The Egyptians are furious with President Barack Obama for meeting in the White House this week with the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. They say that the Obama Administration has once again turned its back on moderate Arabs and Muslims by endorsing those who support and fund Islamic terror groups.
The meeting between Obama and the emir of Qatar came shortly after Egypt accused the emirate of supporting terrorism.
Obama was quoted as saying that “Qatar is a strong partner in our coalition to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL. We are both committed to making sure that ISIL [ISIS/Islamic State] is defeated, to making sure that in Iraq there is an opportunity for all people to live together in peace.”
Obama’s decision to host the emir of Qatar and his ensuing statements in praise of the emirate’s role in “combating” ISIS have drawn sharp criticism from the Egyptians and other Arabs and Muslims.
|U.S. President Barack Obama shares some laughs with Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the White House, February 24, 2015. (Image source: C-SPAN video screenshot)|
Many Arabs and Muslims see the meeting between Obama and al-Thani as a gift to Qatar for its continued support of Islamic radical groups in different parts of the Middle East, including Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
The meeting came less than a week after the Egyptian envoy to the Arab League, Tareq Adel,accused Qatar of supporting terrorism. In response, Qatar recalled its ambassador to Cairo for “consultations.”
The latest crisis between Cairo and Doha erupted after Qatar expressed reservations about Egypt’s airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Libya in retaliation for the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians.
On the eve of Obama’s meeting with the emir, Egyptian sources revealed that Qatar was providing weapons and ammunition to members of the Islamic State in Libya. The sources saidthat 35 Qatari aircraft have been transferring the weapons and ammunition to the terror group.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his regime consider Qatar to be one of the main supporters and funders of Islamic terror groups. They believe that without Qatar’s support and money, Islamic terror groups would not have been able to launch numerous attacks on Egyptian soldiers in Sinai and Hamas would not be in control of the Gaza Strip.
But el-Sisi and his regime are equally furious with Obama for his public embracement of the Qatari emir.
Sisi is expected to travel to Saudi Arabia next week to hold urgent talks with King Salman bin Abdel Aziz on the crisis between Egypt and Qatar. According to reports in the Egyptian media, el-Sisi is also expected to complain to the Saudi monarch about Obama’s support for Qatar at a time when Egypt and other Arab countries are engaged in fighting Qatari-backed terror groups.
The Egyptian president is hoping that the Saudis would use their influence to convince Obama to stop supporting a country that openly backs terror groups.
The government-controlled media in Egypt is now full of articles and cartoons strongly denouncing Obama’s policy toward Qatar. Such attacks on Obama could not have surfaced in the media had they not been approved by el-Sisi and his top aides in Cairo.
One cartoon, for example, features Obama standing next to the emir of Qatar at a press conference and declaring: “We have recalled our emir from Qatar for consultations.” This cartoon is intended to send a message that Obama and the Qatari emir, a major supporter of Islamic terrorism, are buddies.
The Egyptian condemnations of Qatar are also directed at the Obama Administration, which seems to be losing one Arab ally after the other because of its perceived support for Qatar and its proxy, Muslim Brotherhood.
Writing in the Al-Makal newspaper, columnist Ahmed al-Faqih launched a scathing attack on Qatar and the US in an article that carried the title: “The Qatari dwarf that feeds the ISIS monster.”
Al-Faqih claims that Qatar is nothing but a pawn in the hands of the US and Mossad, and that Qatar uses its resources to support terrorism.
Another columnist, Ahmed Musa, wrote that Qatar, “which is allied with Israel and the US,” was being used to fight Arab countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Libya and Syria.
“Qatar us conspiring against Egypt to serve the interests of terror groups and organizations,” Musa said, noting the close ties between the Qataris and the US Administration. “The Qatari regime has aligned itself with the murderers of the Muslim Brotherhood and the terrorists of Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, and is paying them billions of dollars.”
Arab political analysts are not only concerned about Obama’s close relations with Qatar, but also his ongoing attempts to appease Iran. They argue that what is needed now is a serious US policy to counter terrorism and a new and harsh approach toward Iran.
As Obama was welcoming al-Thani, Qatar was continuing to face charges of supporting Islamist groups. The Egyptians say Qatar provides “financial, logistical and media support for terrorist leaders.”
Qatar is also one of the biggest funders of Hamas, whose leader, Khaled Mashaal, is based in Qatar’s capital, Doha. During the past few years, Qatar has provided Hamas with hundreds of millions of dollars – money used to purchase weapons to attack Israel.
Meanwhile, Iran continues to expand its presence in Arab countries such as Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
Iranian-backed Al-Houthi militias have contributed to the collapse of the governments there, Secretary of State John Kerry said this week.
In Syria, Iran is deeply involved in backing the regime of Bashar el-Assad and Hizbullah in their fight against the opposition. Iranian generals and military experts are also operating in the Golan Heights along the border with Israel.
A Reuters report revealed that Iran has hundreds of advisors in Iraq. The report quoted Iraqi officials as saying that Tehran’s involvement (in Iraq) is driven by its belief that Islamic State is an immiedate danger to Shi’ite religious shrines. The Iranians helped organize the Shi’ite volunteers and militia forces to defend their country against Islamic State terrorists.
As for Lebanon, the Iranian-backed terror group Hizbollah continues to maintain a powerful security and political presence there.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has helped Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Hizbullah by exporting the technology that it has for the production of missiles and other equipment,” Revolutionary Guard Air Force commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh was quoted recently.
By the time Obama’s term in office ends, Iran will most likely be in control of more Arab countries. And by the time Obama leaves the White House, Qatari-backed terror groups will be much stronger, killing more Muslims and non-Muslims.