Saudi Arabia breaking with Qatar because Qatar supports terrorism? That’s like the Mafia breaking with Chicago because there’s crime in Chicago. I discussed this a few minutes ago with host P.J. Maloney on KQV News Radio in Pittsburgh.
There’s another expression I remember from my days in the US 40+ years ago, probably politically incorrect by now–“That’s the pot calling the kettle black.”
There’s no doubt that the Saudi-orchestrated move of Muslim states cutting diplomatic relations with Qatar is a significant development, showing how the realignment of the Middle East is complicated, violent and contradictory all together.
It certainly complicates US President Trump’s simplistic idea that all the “reasonable” Muslim countries will be glad to unite and fight the radicals like al-Qaida and ISIS, a kind of international war on terror. Nuances in the Middle East, well, nuances in general, appear lost on this administration.
What everyone is ignoring is that the main backer, purveyor, spreader of extreme Islamic ideology and terrorism is Saudi Arabia. Since the 1970s, the Saudis have been actively exporting their extreme version of Wahhabi Islam, based on the twin ideals of reverting to 7th-century practices and exporting that ideology around the Muslim world through funding mosques and schools called madrassas. Saudi Arabia’s home religion is the basis for al-Qaida and ISIS.
It’s not the basis of the Muslim Brotherhood. There’s a debate in the Trump administration now about whether to declare the Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization. That’s a separate issue, but it’s worthwhile noting that the Brotherhood emerged in Egypt in the 1920s as a political grouping, not a terror organization.Its branches around the Muslim world vary in their practices–and Qatar-sponsored Hamas in Gaza, a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot–is definitely a terror organization, with dozens of suicide bomb attacks in Israel to prove it.
My own experience with the Brotherhood in Egypt is of a political Islamist group, not bomb-throwing terrorists. It failed to run Egypt properly in the year it was in power there, and that led to mass demonstrations against its president and the military coup that ousted it.
Parenthetically, why is it that these days people write about the military overthrowing the government in Egypt in 2013 without mentioning the millions of people on the streets demanding a change, as if one morning the military strongman, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, woke up, drank some coffee and decided, well, I think I’ll stage a coup today? Strange.
Likewise, anyone building an anti-terror coalition around Saudi Arabia really needs to know what they’re dealing with. Saudi Arabia still funds those extremist Wahhabi mosques and schools, nurturing the next generation of Islamist extremists and terrorists. So the Saudi-Qatar bust-up really is a matter of pots and kettles.