Qatar’s Dangerous Game: Switzerland of the Gulf, Patron of Islamists

Qatar's Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (L), and his son, Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim. Sheikh Hamad abdicated in favour of his 33-year-old son. (AFP)
Qatar’s  ex-Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (L), and his son Tamim  the current Emir of Qatar (AFP)

Has Qatar overplayed its hand? The emirate, with 300,000 citizens who enjoy the highest per-capita GDP in the world, has a reputation as the Switzerland of the Persian Gulf: small, wealthy, and dogged about maintaining good relations with its quarrelsome neighbors. Qatar has strong ties with Iran, with which it shares a massive offshore gas field. It also hosts CENTCOM, the U.S. military’s central command in the Middle East. After the Oslo Accords in 1996, Qatar became the first Gulf state to establish trade ties with Israel.

Its dexterity is being challenged. Driven by ideology or opportunity—it isn’t clear which—Qatar’s former emir and his son, who took over the throne in June 2013, have cast their lot with some of the radical Islamist groups that have roiled the region since the Arab Spring revolts broke out in 2010. Qatar’s support for militants has angered its neighboring conservative monarchies in the Gulf Cooperation Council—notably Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. But Qatar doesn’t seem to care.

Qatar funds and arms Islamists fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad and bankrolls Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It let other extremist groups raise money in Qatar, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. Qatar backed the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, before the Egyptian military deposed that nation’s first democratically elected leader and declared the Muslim Brotherhood illegal. And last month, when Qatar tried to broker a ceasefire in Gaza, the effort was angrily slapped down by Egypt and Israel, who thought the Qataris were trying to help Hamas win concessions through violence.

Why would this peninsula of sand that is smaller than Connecticut, home to the world’s third-largest natural gas reserves and the 2022 soccer World Cup, climb out on the Islamist limb?
“Above all it boils down to the pragmatic search for autonomy in policymaking,” says Kristian Coates Ulrichsen of Rice University. Qatar seeks to “balance ties among competing interests,” he says, to avoid becoming too entangled with any one. It has always been a haven for political exiles, including leaders of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, which has helped keep these groups from stirring up trouble among Qataris, Ulrichsen adds.

But has it now bitten off more than it can chew?

“Today Qatar is on the defensive. They made a huge gamble and lost with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt,” says Emile Hokayem, a senior fellow at the Bahrain center of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the London think tank. “Perhaps Islam will shape the region some day, and the bet will pay off. But in the short and medium term, the powerful state actors don’t see it that way and are ready to counter Qatar.”

Petrodollar politics are never simple.

Business Week



20 responses to “Qatar’s Dangerous Game: Switzerland of the Gulf, Patron of Islamists”

  1. 5thDrawer Avatar

    Petrodollar politics are never simple. Simple truth.

  2. Leborigine Avatar

    I am not trying to instigate any trouble, but I just came across this article which is apparently extremely factual. I would like to post it, but I also would like to highlight that it is very debatable from my point of view.

    Origins of the Arabs in Israel – they do not want us to know:
    Palestine? Palestinians?
    There has never been such a thing as a Palestinian, and has never been a country called
    Palestine. Before the establishment of Israel sign here of the British Mandate, and before that dominated Ottoman Empire.

    • The Quran does not mention the word “Palestine” once
    So Where did the name “Palestine”?
    The Romans conquered the land of Israel called it “Frobinika Palestine” – the name Philistines who were the Israeli coastal cities.
    What were the Philistines?

    The Philistines were redheaded seafarers who reached the shores of Israel from Europe and gone
    About -1600 years before the birth of Muhammad.

    These Philistines and Arabs in Europe there is no connection because the Arabs in Israel
    Origin from Arab countries and Europe (and why they are called ‘Arabs’ (Origins of the Arabs of Israel:
    • Arabs in Israel are a cluster of tribes and clans who infiltrated to Israel

    Israel and Arab countries Muslim Ottoman conqueror encouragement.

    • The majority of them came as migrant workers during the British Mandate for building Infrastructure.

    • Arab immigration into Israel increased as developed options

    Livelihood and living in Israel.

    Some of the surnames of the Arabs indicates the place where their tribes

    Arrived. Example:

    “Egyptian” – “al-Masri” – Egypt
    “Mughrabi” – “Maghreb” – North Africa
    “Osman” – Turkey
    “Hourani” – Bedouin from Jordan
    “Milk” – a land in Syria
    “Do that if” – “if” – “to my mother” – Syria


    Residents of Jisr Azrka (near Caesarea) from Egypt and Sudan
    Umm al-Fahm origin tribes who came from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan
    • Samuel Longhorn More commonly known as Mark Twain (who wrote the books

    “Huckleberry Finn,” “Tom Sawyer”) wrote a book called “The Innocents Abroad.”

    • In this book he describes his journey to the Land of Israel in 1867: “Eretz Israel clad in sackcloth and ashes, barren and ugly. Spaces somber. Did not see anyone throughout the entire journey.”

    * Before the Jews returned to settle in their land after 2000 years of exile, the land Israel was destroyed and desolate, full of sand dunes, swamps, cholera and malaria.

    Jews began draining swamps, built the national carrier culverts across the country and made the desert bloom, built a magnificent cities and agriculture. Now, thanks to the Jews, Land of Israel became heaven.
    No wonder the Arabs are plotting to covet it.

    The Land of Israel in the Qur’an:

    Even the Koran by the Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel:

    • Surah 5 Verse 21 (5:21): Moses: “My people, into the holy land which God has written for you.”

    • Sura 10 verse 93 (10:93): “Then we sent the children of Israel certainly gave them any good.”

    • Sura 17 verse 104 (17:104): “After the Pharaoh said to Israel, where Israel and when there will be another promise we will gather
    Fizorichm ¸ days.”

    * Muslim clerics, who know the verses in the Koran verses show more Land of Israel belongs to the Jews, rely on the fact that most Muslims do not read the Koran.

    * When conquered Christian areas (Eastern Europe) by the
    Muslim Ottoman Empire ¸ churches became mosques, so they did the glorious St.
    Sophia church located in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, and made the church into
    a mosque. They did so in Europe they conquered and so they did instead Temple.


    600 years after the destruction of the Temple Mount, Muslims built the Temple in place of the Al-Aqsa Mosque (Dome of the Rock)

    • Please note that when Muslims pray on the Temple Mount, are toward “a hit”, so they go refer the direction of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Temple Mount (Is this usually a holy “allegedly?)

    • How many times Jerusalem is mentioned in the Qur’an? 0 times!!!!

    1. $89733098 Avatar

      Lol the article isn’t even worth spitting on.

      1. Leborigine Avatar

        Whether its worth spitting on or not, its not my prerogative! I’m just looking at the bigger picture.

        1. Anti ISIS Avatar
          Anti ISIS

          I find it quite fascinating to be honest. I going to do a bit of research on it. Maybe not all is what it seems.

          1. Leborigine Avatar

            Well it is interesting, there are so many things that we have been kept in the dark about. It does not hurt to research, it hurts more to be ignorant.

      2. Anti ISIS Avatar
        Anti ISIS

        Lol. And you have the nerve to call me a bigot. Can’t you just say you disagree with it without the harsh approach.

        1. $89733098 Avatar

          Buddy look up the word bigot!

    2. $89733098 Avatar

      Please tell me what makes it “extremely factual” besides your opinion.

      1. Leborigine Avatar

        Extremely factual was added by the author, the only thing that i added was that I think it is debatable.

        Some points to consider;

        Where did the people who we forced out Israel in 1948 and 1967 come from, Where they the owners of the land? Yes they were and they were replaced by Jewish settlements…. Like we are replaced by Palestinian and syrian in Lebanon!!

        Who occupied the Land before Moses brought his people from Egypt…. Egypt must be Jewish land too!!!

        Jews lived in Arabia before Islam… they should claim me as well.

        We can debate this forever and go down history but the fact remains that there were people on the land under the British mandate made up of Jews and Palestinians….

        Even the UNITED Nation resolution stated the right for 2 states on the land back in 1967 (Israel and Palestine nad divided Jerusalem in 2 cities!) the Arabs rejected the resolution because they wanted to drive Israel to the sea!!!! Look where
        we are now

        REFER to Balfour declaration in 1917 WWI

        I do not take sides Barabie, I am just intrigued and want to know more. I think I have made it clear about who I dislike. I am open to all religions as long as you keep it to yourself but despise a few nationalities!

        1. $89733098 Avatar

          If u r going to quote someone else then put quotation marks otherwise it looks like u r saying it. Secondly that’s dishonest and plagiarism.

          1. Leborigine Avatar

            lol, I don’t have to do anything Barabie. This is not a grammar exam! I sneak in and out during work hours, I don’t have time to paint a perfect picture.

          2. $89733098 Avatar

            That just shows how dishonest u r. Which leads one not to trust anything u post. Learn the proper rules of communication

          3. Leborigine Avatar

            Does it? And that’s coming from you, lol. Don’t read my post and we’ll call it square. If you have nothing good to say, then fuck off. I tried to be civil with you, but with that attitude, you can go and get gargled!

          4. $89733098 Avatar

            Ooh does the truth hurt u little dishonest prick?

          5. Anti ISIS Avatar
            Anti ISIS

            Now you in trouble Lebo. She’s going to hammer you now. lol. My friend, people like this need you to agree with them for themselves to feel good. And if you disagree, then you will be called every name under the sun. I mean for F@%k sake, she even had a shot at Geo for not agreeing with her. And Geo is respectful all the time. And an absolute gentlemen.

          6. Leborigine Avatar

            Oh well, she was bound to be rude to me anyway, whether I kept my cool or not.
            There is nothing wrong with constructive criticism, I can handle that, but to be told to stfu, well stay tuned, we’re going to have fun.

          7. Anti ISIS Avatar
            Anti ISIS

            You know your going to be called a Zionist now, Don’t you. lol

          8. $89733098 Avatar


    3. 5thDrawer Avatar

      Extremely Interesting, nevertheless … and perhaps the ‘redheaded seafarers’ were Vikings? They never seemed to stay long in one place – or at least, not where the women were. 😉
      But you should quote a ‘source’ … although I understand in here that gets you in hot water anyway. :-))) Having looked at some sources can label you for life. :-))))
      Churches replaced by mosques replaced by churches replaced by mosques. Ancient story.
      In Damascus in 1971 one could still see in the OLD MARKET STREET the remains of the last ‘crusade’ church outside the walls of the mosque which had been made by it’s stones, which had been built partly from a previous mosque … etc, etc … It IS part of history …
      Up the street from me is a Mosque which was, in fact, a Tractor Factory in the countryside – next to an apple orchard – until the politicians sent away all the manufacturing … and I am sure there are precious few people left around here who know that. The ‘non-muslims’ in the ‘new crappy housing’ – built in other spaces which originally had factories nearby – which also had replaced farms – all head to a pub which is actually the farmhouse. At least there, they keep ‘old pictures’ on the wall to preserve some memories …. but then, it’s only been 60 years of ‘change’ around it …. and before that it was just forest.
      I imagine a few thousand years down the road I won’t recognize it at all. Will anyone preserve my notes?? OR WHO will remember that the stupid farmer shot my mother’s escaped breeding canary because ‘he always shoots crows in his orchard’.
      (She did ask him when he had ever seen a bright, small, yellow crow before that. 😉
      (If I tell younger people that now, they say: ‘They shot guns at the end of your street??’ Eyes wide in fear …. a ‘liberal’ upbringing … usually.)
      (Many think ‘impossible’. ‘He’s telling stories again.’ I should get myself a ‘truth license’) .. 🙂

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