FILE – Tamim and Recep Tayyip Erdogan
CAIRO – 20 December 2017: U.S. National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster underlined at a conference in Washington, D.C., last week that two countries are playing a key role in advancing radical Islamist ideology in the Muslim community.
McMaster explained that these two countries are carrying out their hostile policies to fund and support terrorism and extremism through charities, madrassas and other social organizations, according to U.S. newspaper The Algemeiner.
The two countries named by McMaster have been considered for the last few decades to be allies of the West. One of them is a member of the NATO alliance, and seeks EU membership. The other hosts the most vital American military base in the Middle East, home to more than 9,000 U.S. soldiers.
The promotion of radical Islam, McMaster said, is “now done more by Qatar, and by Turkey.”
It is not the first time that Trump has linked Qatar to terrorism; Trump has said – at the start of the Qatari turmoil with Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states – that “the Qatari regime has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.”
The evidence of funding and money laundering in Qatar, on behalf of Islamist groups including the Islamic State and Hamas, has been mounting for more than a decade, McMaster stated.
In a similar vein, Turkey is believed to be funding terrorism. Although, as McMster explained, the task of linking Turkey to terrorism is made easier by the fact that the country is “run by an authoritarian thug in the form of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”
The U.S. National Security Advisor specifically identified the link between Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party with the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, remarking that, “by operating through civil society, they consolidate power through one party; sadly, it is a problem contributing to Turkey’s drift from the West.”
Since last year’s coup, Erdogan has assumed more dictatorial powers, taken the war against the Islamic State as an excuse to launch brutal air raids on Kurdish fighters in Syria and Turkey and carve up Iraqi Kurdistan with the help of Iran, McMaster pointed out.
Erdogan is now leading a charge against Israel following President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
For Turkey and Qatar, at the level of public relations, this corruption takes the form of communicating in bare-faced lies, and sticking by them or dancing around them when these lies are unmasked as such, McMaster further explained.
Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al-Thani — another scion of the ruling family who serves as the Director of Government Communications — told the Los Angeles Times editorial board that “Qatar does not fund terrorism whatsoever — no groups, no individuals. Not from afar or from a close distance.” (The editorial board did not challenge him on this claim.)
Those blatant lies try to change our attention to Qatar’s role in African regional development, or Turkey’s concerns regarding anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe, or showing moderation influence of Doha and Ankara alike on radicals, McMaster concluded.
Qatar started a huge air power buildup, raising questions about its ability to improve its technology amidst the crisis with the Arab Quartet.
Defense News magazine reported that Qatar had signed a deal with Britain to export 24 Typhoon fighter jets, after two consecutive deals with the U.S. to purchase 36 Boeing F-15QA fighters. France also had its share, signing a deal for 24 Dassault Rafale fighter jets on the opening day of the Doha International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference.
The magazine also mocked Qatar for its lack of armed forces personnel, which will lead to the recruitment of militants to compensate for staffing shortage.
“For decades, GCC states have concluded massive arms deals with the U.S. and other leading western countries as a form of premium insurance; the GCC helps keep western defense industry jobs, and in return, the West protects the GCC states from external threats,” said Yezid Sayegh, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center think tank.