Al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri and Nusra Front - Creative Commons via Ahmed ElShamy
CAIRO – 6 June 2017: Qatar began supporting terrorism in 1995, the year of the Qatari palace coup, where Crown Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani ousted his father, according to the Saudi statement on cutting ties with its natural-gas rich neighbor.
Sheikh Hamad has always advocated a foreign policy that runs counter to the policies of most Gulf states. Such policy favors establishing good relations with Iran, which has expansion ambitions in the region. Iran wanted a share in the South Pars/North Dome gas field; indeed, it later shared it with Qatar, the Independent said.
Qatar-based Khalifa Muhammad Turki al-Subaiy and Abd al-Rahman bin Umayr al-Nuaymi are two U.S. and UN-designated terrorist financiers, David Cohen, former U.S. Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence said in 2014.
Al Nuaymi was convicted by U.S. authorities of providing “money and material support” and conveying communications to al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen for more than a decade. He transferred $2 million per month to Sunni Extremists in Iraq for years, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury.
Al-Subaiy, a former employee at the Qatari Central Bank, was accused in 2008 of being a fundraiser of al-Qaeda. He lived freely Doha in the 1990s whilst he was charged of terrorist offences in the U.S.
Both men have been paymasters of al-Qaeda and its affiliate groups in Iraq and Syria providing them with millions of dollars, according to Daily Mail. Those groups have committed massacres in those countries and have dragged them into turmoil and civil war since 2011.
The perceived support to terrorist groups and alliance with Iran continued under Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who seized power after his father Sheikh Hamad in 2013.
Qatar has granted support to the militant group Hamas, whose leaders have been frequent visitors of the country, and has been hosting Muslim Brotherhood preacher Yusuf El Qaradawi for many years, where he often featured on the Qatari news channel Al Jazeera.
In 2014, relations between Qatar and fellow Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain soured dramatically, resulting in the withdrawal of their ambassadors from Qatar. The stated reason was the Qatari support to Islamists from the Gulf, to the extent of giving them passports to enter Western countries.
The crisis was later resolved after Qatar agreed to those states’ demands of expelling hardliners based in Doha and cutting its support to Islamists, the National newspaper said.
A statement attributed to Sheikh Saud bin Nasser Al Thani, a prominent Qatari opposition figure and member of the ruling family, circulated on Twitter in late May, where he said: "we hoped that foreign policy would change, but our hopes were disappointed after you (Sheikh Tamim) joined forces with Iran against your brothers and set up terrorist groups and deployed electronic battalions to beat your opponents. Sheikh Tamim, Qatar has become a source of financing terrorism and an export port of extremist ideology. "
Sheikh Saud’s remarks came in the wake of a crisis between Qatar and other Arab countries in late May, as Qatar News Agency (QNA) published a statement by Sheikh Tamim, criticizing Saudi Arabia. QNA later said it had been hacked.
Sheikh Saud apologized to Egypt, Yemen and Gulf states, promising that he would mediate so Qatar suspends ties with Iran, as well as all support to terrorist operations in Libya, Egypt, North Africa and Sudan. He added that he would intervene for the expulsion of extremist elements from Qatar.
The National reported that there has been a growing military alliance between Qatar and the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, whose plans in the region have been against most of the Arab states’ foreign policy.
Lebanese newspaper Al Diyar reported in December 2016 that Sheikh Tamim met with Nusra leaders in Doha and “ordered” them to persist in their fight against the Syrian national army until January 2017.
The current strict sanctions imposed by five Arab countries on Qatar primarily aim to preserve their national security, and reflect a Qatari determination on pro-Islamist militancy and pro-Iran policies.
Qatar’s stance has been interpreted by many Arab intellectuals and political analysts as an attempt for assuming a leading role in the Arab world.