Qatar, a small oil- and gas-rich nation in the Arabian Peninsula, has been boycotted by its neighbors, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt. Other nations, including Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Jordan, Djibouti and Senegal, also have commenced severe diplomatic measures against Qatar.
This legion of governments accuses Qatar of sponsoring terrorism directly and through support for key international terror groups, including al Qaeda, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Islamist militias in Libya and Shiite groups in Bahrain and Iraq. The facts aren’t in dispute. Qatar is a safe haven for a significant number of international terrorists, such as radical Qatari-Egyptian preacher Yusuf al-Qaradhawi, Qatari al Qaeda financers Abdulaziz bin al-Attiyah and Abdul Rahman al-Noaimi, and Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, a Qatari royal and former interior minister who hosted and financed the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other Arab terrorists.
Qatar’s role in the Arab Spring several years ago was aimed at destabilizing sovereign governments in the region while bolstering terror groups that threatened them. Qatar is no model of democracy or modernity. Neither is its human rights record. It doesn’t have an elected legislature. It finances enemies of the state in Bahrain (Al-Wefaq), in Egypt (the Muslim Brotherhood) as well as scores of radical Islamist militant groups in Libya and Syria.
Qatar is also infamous for its backing of Hamas, which has been declared by many Western nations as an enemy of international peace in the region. Supporting terror groups is one thing, but helping them to attain power in a fragile region — such as the case of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas — is a different and dangerous matter. Thousands have died in the region because of the rise of intolerant political Islam and tens of thousands of refugees have fled to Europe due to the power vacuum in Libya that was caused by the rise of Qatar-backed extremists there. Many more people will lose their lives unless the community of nations acts against the aggression of Qatar.
After the horrific attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the whole world, including Muslim nations, were in shock and were determined to fight back against the evil forces behind them. The United Nations Security Council acted like a world legislature, unanimously adopting Resolution 1373, which obligated nations to push back against the forces that threatened world peace and security.
The resolution affirmed that all states should renounce funders of terrorist acts, deny safe havens for terrorist groups and prevent them from using their territories as staging grounds to hurt innocent people. Qatar is subject to this mandate along with every other nation and it should be held accountable for violating the resolution’s strictures. The Security Council is well within its rights to sanction Qatar for being what amounts to a direct threat to international peace and security.
If the international community does not take action against Qatar under the auspices of the United Nations, Qatar will continue to be a threat to international security and will eventually become the newest member in the Axis of Evil.
The United States should continue to support diplomatic and other penalties against Qatar. It should also encourage the United Nations to do whatever it can to prod Qatar to rejoin the family of nations.
• Khalifa A. Alfadhel is a Bahraini lawyer and human rights defender. He is a board member in the Bahrain Institute for Political Development and the Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies.