What happens when Qatar stops funding terror

by Abdellatif El-Menawy 

There has been a marked decline in the activities of terrorist organizations on several fronts in recent months. Legitimate forces have begun to advance in some countries experiencing conflicts, terrorist operations and civil war, such as Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Bahrain. Hard-line Islamist militias in Syria are collapsing at the hands of the Syrian army. Is this a coincidence? Or is it confirmation of Qatari involvement in supporting rebel movements and terrorist organizations in these countries by financing and arming them? It could be said that today, these organizations are suffering from a lack of funding after Qatar came under scrutiny, and after the Anti-Terror Quartet began to confront it and boycott it.
This observation was confirmed after Hamas announced the acceptance of Egypt’s mediation efforts to achieve Palestinian reconciliation, and decided last Sunday on the dissolution of the administrative committee in the Gaza Strip.
They also invited the Government of Reconciliation (Al-Wefaq) to come to the Gaza Strip to exercise their functions and carry out their duties immediately. They are ready to meet the Egyptian call for dialogue with Fatah on how to implement the 2011 Cairo agreement and form a national unity government. The dramatic shift in Hamas’s position is not a development in their vision, but a reflection of the difficult situation the movement is facing after the withdrawal of Qatari support, not only for Hamas but also and mainly for the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is a big part.
It may be appropriate to recall what US President Donald Trump said in his first reaction to the decision to isolate Qatar: “During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of radical ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!”
Trump did not show much sympathy for Qatar at the time, although it is a center of US military operations in the region. The US president hoped this would be “the beginning of the end of the horror of terrorism.”
The map of the export of terrorism from Doha to the Gulf and the world includes a large number of Arab, African and European countries. Among them are Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Libya. In each of these countries, which are supposed to be Qatar’s brothers, Doha supports death, chaos and civil war and fuels sectarian and ethnic strife.
It is clear that the position taken by the Anti-Terror Quartet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain was already the beginning of the end. Libya is currently looking optimistic and has had an unprecedented improvement in security, political and social conditions after it paralyzed the capabilities of terrorist militias who were receiving money, weapons and direct orders from Qatar. This was in part due to the meeting in Paris between Fayez Al-Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar, and the signing of an agreement to commit to a conditional cease-fire and prepare for presidential elections. The agreement is a positive step to achieve security and stability after the absence of Qatari influence, which has been an obstacle to this rapprochement.

“From Gaza to Syria and Libya to Iraq, Islamist militants are on the retreat. It is no coincidence that this happening while the Anti-Terror Quartet puts pressure on Doha over its support for extremism.”

According to Libyan sources, there is more evidence of this in the final clearance of Benghazi. Extremist terrorist organizations, who have controlled the region for more than three years as a result of the financial support and information provided by the Qatari regime, are either defeated or dissolving themselves. Calm has returned to Tripoli after the expulsion of fighting groups outside the city by the battalion of the revolutionaries of Tripoli.
Several weeks ago, Palestinian political circles confirmed that the withdrawal of Qatar from the Palestinian scene will increase the chances of Palestinian reconciliation, especially as Hamas has consulted with regional forces closer to Palestinian  Authority and the Egyptian side to resolve the situation in the Gaza Strip.
A number of political observers and analysts predicted that Qatar’s preoccupation with the Arab boycott crisis would reduce its ability to support movements it used to back. Therefore, the Muslim Brotherhood faces a funding crisis as well as increased pressure from around the world, as its relationship with terrorism is exposed. This will push Hamas to deny that they are linked in any way with the Muslim Brotherhood movement and Qatar, which makes the current response of the Egyptian leadership more effective and influential; this will help to end Palestinian division and achieve reconciliation.
The Arab position on Qatar has led to the weakening of the strongest supporters of Hamas, which caused the movement to lose its position in the Palestinian arena, and that has resulted in Hamas having to make more concessions. The options facing Hamas are limited. Either the crisis faces more rigidity and a new battle with Israel, which Hamas is neither seeking nor able to take part in, or move forward on reconciliation with Fatah.
But will Qatar surrender easily? Given its history of intransigence, it is likely that Qatar will exert pressure on Hamas to try to thwart the reconciliation agreement. Qatar’s leaders do not seem to realize that the elements of the equation have changed.

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