On 3rd May two leading figures of Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups lobbied Congress. Hani El-Kadi and Mahmoud El-Sharkawy, the president and the spokesman of the Egyptian Americans for Freedom and Justice (EAFJ) demanded that support to Egypt’s military rulers be cut off because of the regime’s human rights abuses. Thereby, they avoided to concede their own support for terrorist groups, the Revolutionary Punishment Movement (RPM) and the Popular Resistance Movement (PRM), which have committed attacks in Egypt. For instance, the PRM as well as ISIS claimed responsibility for the same attack against police officers near Cairo.
Although the Muslim Brotherhood itself publicly denies any connection with terror movements, it issues statements supporting terror attacks. Furthermore, Abu Emara, a former Muslim Brotherhood leader, told media that fighters of the RPM belonged to the Brotherhood.
Another participant of the lobbying trip, Ayat Al-Orabi, a member of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council, accused Christians of waging war on Islam which is a narrative often used by terrorists to gain recruits.
However, it is questionable why the EAFJ delegation, which obviously supports jihad and terrorism, gained access to any Congressional office at all.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP, condemns the boycott of Qatar by other Arab countries due to the country’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and its role in Yemen. Recently, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut their ties with Qatar and drafted a list of individuals designated as terrorists sponsored by Qatar. Al-Qaeda’s leader Khalid Batarfi publicly called this step “war against Islam and the Muslims”.
Al-Qaeda obviously has links to the Muslim Brotherhood which were confirmed by public comments on joint attacks of both groups in Yemen. Furthermore it is a fact that most leaders of AQAP were members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Although the Brotherhood seemed to be hostile to Al-Qaeda in 2011 and 2012 in order to gain political influence in Yemen, the relations between the two groups returned in 2014.
An expert on Yemeni Islamist groups explained that AQAP’s statement serves as a guide to Muslim Brotherhood members that dialogue with the opponents is useless and that jihad is the only appropriate means to react to this situation. In Al-Qaeda’s latest issue of Al-Masra weekly the group attacks the Arab countries because of their campaign against Qatar and its Emir.
US-President Donald Trump tries to strengthen the relationship to American allies and partners and thereby faces obstacles such as Qatar’s support for Islamists.
Qatar permitted the USA to build a huge air base, Al-Udeid, as base for all US-coalition air operations for the entire region including Afghanistan and Syria. As such, it is a crucial means to protect US national security interests in the Middle East and makes Qatar an American ally. On the other hand, one would expect allies to share interests, support each other’s basic policies and to see common enemies. This implies that Qatar should not provide any kind of support to forces that threaten American interests or those of friends and partners of the USA. Notwithstanding, Qatar promotes the Muslim Brotherhood as well as its affiliated groups including the offshoot Hamas.
Hamas is responsible for attacks against American forces and interests, rejects the existence of Israel and, from an ideological standpoint, promotes religious intolerance. E.g. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, a resident of Qatar who speaks on a weekly show on the media network Al-Jazeera, promotes anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments. Al-Jazeera is subsidized by the government of Qatar and nevertheless legitimizes extremist and intolerant beliefs of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists.
Furthermore, Qatar provides money and material support to Islamist fighters in Libya and Syria and thereby clearly acts against US-American interests. Qatar is a small country that tries to gain influence through its natural gas and oil wealth. Critics claim that Qatar uses its money to buy off Islamists while Qatar itself stresses its bridge-building role between Islamists and the Western world. Instead, it seems that Qatar wants to preserve its ties to the USA in view of security matters as well as to Islamists in order to expand its influence in the region.
Although Al-Udeid base is strategically important, the Trump administration should signalize that it has alternatives such as bases in the United Arab Emirates unless Qatar is ready to become a more reliable ally.