Qatar Told to Sever Ties With Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and Shut Down Al-Jazeera

Patrick Goodenough | June 23, 2017 | 4:38am EDT
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The emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, at the U.S.-Arab-Islamic summit in Riyadh last month. (Photo: Saudi Press Agency)

( – Saudi Arabia and three allies that have cut ties to Qatar want the small Gulf state to cut ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and all U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations and shut down the Al-Jazeera TV network, according to a list of demands seen by the Associated Press.

The AP says it received a copy of the list of 13 demands from one of the governments involved in the diplomatic standoff. It’s not clear how much it differs from a list of ten Saudi demands, reported on by Al-Jazeera two weeks ago but never confirmed.

Accusing Qatar of supporting extremists and Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have suspended diplomatic ties and severed air links, among other measures.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier this week called on the four countries to present Qatar with a list of “reasonable and actionable” demands it should meet to end the row.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Thursday reiterated that expectation, while declining to comment on the contents of the list.

“The secretary has been really very clear with all the parties about this,” she told a daily briefing. “If you’re going to ask Qatar to do something, and to do something differently, it has to be something that they are actually capable of doing.”

Early on in the dispute President Trump sided with the Saudis and their partners, praising them on Twitter for acting on his appeals during last month’s summit in Riyadh for countries in the region to cut off financing of extremism.

But after a fortnight of unsuccessful mediation attempts, the State Department in a startling shift earlier this week signaled that the U.S. was running out of patience with the Saudi-led quartet.

“We are mystified that the Gulf States have not released to the public nor to the Qataris the details about the claims that they are making toward Qatar,” Nauert said on Tuesday.

“At this point we are left with one simple question. Were the actions really about their concerns regarding Qatar’s alleged support for terrorism or were they about the long simmering grievances between and among the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries?”

According to the list seen by the AP, the Saudi-led group want to Qatar, among other things, to:

--Shut down Al-Jazeera, the Doha-based network that some governments in the region have long accused of promoting the Muslim Brotherhood and other controversial groups, and of interference in their domestic affairs.

As reported earlier, Al-Jazeera this month published a fatwa defending Qatar against the allegations of terror-sponsorship – written by a radical cleric who has been designated by the U.S. and U.N. for facilitating and funding terrorism.

--Sever ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group outlawed by Egypt and some of the GCC countries. Its spiritual leader, Egyptian Sunni cleric Yusuf Qaradawi, is based in Qatar and appears regularly on Al-Jazeera.

--Hand over individuals wanted by the Saudi-led quartet for terrorism. Earlier this month the four countries listed a number of Qatar-based individuals and organizations they said were “linked to terror.” Qaradawi was among them.

--End diplomatic ties with Iran and limit trade with Iran to business that does not violate U.S. sanctions.

--Stop funding groups that are designated by the U.S. government as foreign terrorist organizations. The FTO most closely associated with Qatar is the Palestinian terror group Hamas, whose leader was until recently based in Doha, since leaving Damascus early on during the Syrian civil war.

Other FTOs with whom some Qataris sympathize include Hezbollah, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) and al-Qaeda.

A senior U.S. Treasury Department official in a 2014 speech described Qatar – along with Kuwait – as “more permissive jurisdictions” for people collecting funds for terror groups in Syria, including ISIS and the al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra.

He also noted that Qatar “has for many years openly financed Hamas, a group that continues to undermine regional stability.”

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