Sunday, May 19, 2013

Qatar Funding Jihadis in Global Sharia Push

From The Clarion Project.

Qatar Funding Jihadis in Global Sharia Push

As the Syrian civil war continues to tear that country apart, with possible use of chemical weapons (by somebody) reported and certain commission of atrocities on all sides, calls for Western and especially U.S. intervention are mounting.

Some want a “no fly zone” so that Bashar al-Assad’s forces can be prevented from aerial bombardment of his people, civilians and rebels alike. Some want the Obama administration to arm the rebels directly (or at least more directly than it already has been for the last year or more). Some, like U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), want both a no-fly zone and more weapons for the rebels. Sen. Graham has even pushed for the insertion of U.S. ground forces into the Syrian conflict.

The trouble is that most U.S. lawmakers realize there just aren’t a lot of good candidates among the rebels whose victory would actually advance core U.S. national security interests in the region. Where in Syria is there a capable, credible rebel force openly dedicated to anything but Sunni Islam and Islamic Law?

Aside from some out-funded, outgunned and outmanned militias among the umbrella Syrian Free Army (SFA) that have been identified and met by Major General Paul Vallely, USA (ret.), thanks to decades of inaction and neglect of pro-Western voices by U.S. leadership, the most powerful forces now opposing the Assad regime are Islamic jihadis, sponsored by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other theocratic regimes.

The loss of SFA commander Col. Riad al-Assad in March 2013 to a bomb that left him seriously injured and out of the fight was a critical blow to opposition forces not aligned with either the al-Qa’eda militia, Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Muslim Brotherhood.

Since at least October 2012, when it first warned that most of the weapons being shipped to the rebels by Qatar and Saudi Arabia were going to “hard-line Islamic jihadists,” even the New York Times has been sounding some well-considered notes of caution about calls for deeper U.S. involvement. Following up in April 2013, Times journalist Ben Hubbard reported that “nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of” but rather that “[a]cross Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists.”

So, acknowledged hard-line Salafis like al-Qa’eda and Saudi Arabia aside, what might be expected in Syrian territory seized by Qatari-backed (i.e., Muslim Brotherhood-aligned) fighters?

While ostensibly a U.S. ally, Qatar in fact shares little with American core principles such as gender, ethnic and faith equality, genuine pluralism, tolerance, individual liberty or liberal secular democracy.

For starters, Qatar is an authoritarian monarchy whose legal system is dominated by sharia (Islamic) law. Article I of the 1972 Qatari constitution declares with finality that “its religion is Islam and the Islamic Shari'a is the main source of legislation.” Qatari judges are graduates of Saudi schools of Islamic jurisprudence or Egypt’s al-Azhar University. Qatar’s sharia courts have full jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters over both Qatari nationals and resident or visiting Muslims from other countries.

The reach of Qatar’s draconian sharia mandate obviously extends beyond its Muslim subjects, however, as Dorje Gurung, a Nepali chemistry teacher at Qatar Academy in the capital of Doha, found out recently. In early May 2013, Gurung was jailed pending felony charges for insulting Islam. The accusation resulted from Gurung’s interaction with some insolent and undisciplined students at the school who had launched racist taunts and even a physical assault against him. Freed after an international outcry, the veteran Tibetan-Buddhist educator who’d been educated by Jesuits in Italy, and taught in Australia, Britain and the U.S., could have faced up to seven years in prison had he been convicted.

None of this should come as any surprise, given Qatar’s identification as ‘banker to the global jihad’ and ‘home away from home’ for Yousef al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s senior jurist (as I wrote in a January 2013 piece for the Clarion Project, here).

As owner and home base for the Al-Jazeera , Qatar also provides the satellite television and news outlet of choice for a panoply of jihadist groups, from al-Qa’eda, HAMAS and Hezbollah to the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar, quite simply, is a jihadist state, not a moderate one. Its objectives mirror those of official Islam for the last 1400 years—and of its Muslim Brotherhood guests since that group’s 1928 founding: Establishment of Islamic government and enforcement of Islamic Law (sharia).

Qatar’s co-sponsorship with the U.S. administration of the 2011 Libyan revolution that was dominated (and won) by al-Qa’eda-affiliated militias predictably ushered in a chaotic post-Qaddafi situation in which Muslim Brotherhood thugs on the streets and al-Qa’eda militias across Cyrenaica demand what they fought for: Strict application of sharia.

The so-far unavenged murderous September 11 attack against the U.S. mission in Benghazi by the al-Qa’eda affiliate, Ansar al-Shariah, has spawned a spike in al-Qa’eda threats against U.S. Embassies in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

Christians and their churches are under assault across Libya, something that happened rarely, if ever, under Qaddafi. Islamic Law, the Islamic Law of Qatar, al-Qaradawi and the Brotherhood, in fact, demands the suppression of all non-Muslim expressions of faith, especially free speech and proselytizing.

In Syria, Qatar’s investment in the rebellion, estimated by some to be as much as three billion dollars, increasingly is being seen for what it most likely is: An attempt to buy influence and build networks among the jihadist opponents of the Assad regime in order to shape the post-Assad battlespace.

What Qatar’s ruling al-Thani family wants in Syria is the same outcome it sought by backing the Tunisian Brotherhood party, al-Nahda, and the Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt: Qatar-friendly Sunni Islamic government under sharia law. While the Sunni Islamic part of this objective is shared by the Saudis and other backers of the Syrian rebellion, divisions and rivalries among the anti-Assad opposition mean that the post-Assad period almost inevitably will be at least as contentious as the rebellion itself.

Continuing civil war seems unavoidable, not just against the stay-behind insurgent cell networks being set up by Shi’ite Iran and Hezbollah, but among Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the rest of the competing opposition interests which already are visibly splintering even before (perhaps well before) Assad goes down.

Syria is a morass of intra-Islamic hatreds at the moment. While disposing of Iran’s only real ally in the region and severing a critical land bridge to Lebanese Hezbollah and Islamic jihad’s front line against the State of Israel surely are worthy objectives, trading an Iranian proxy for yet another new Muslim Brotherhood outpost is not.

No comments: