Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood
Qatar makes longer-term investments in religious or ideological factions.
June 20, 2017
One reason for Saudi Arabia’s present animosity toward Qatar, despite both of them financing terrorism, is that the latter’s longer-term investments in religious or ideological factions pose an existential threat to Saudi interests.
Take the Qataris’ financing the Muslim Brotherhood, as compared to the typical groups funded by the Saudis. The Brotherhood, traditionally very prominent in Egypt, is not Wahhabist, has very different aims from those groups and fell out with the Saudis some time ago.
The Brotherhood’s ultimate goal is not terrorism, but rather regime change in Sunni Muslim societies that are run like feudalist fiefdoms by royals and military strongmen.
Qatar’s support for the organizations it funds is not merely a Saudi-style intermittent arrangement to maintain an insurgency or aid in a coup d’état.
Rather, Qatar provides the long-term funding for the infrastructure investments and the health and human services that keep the political wings of such groups popular across many countries.
(In democracies, it keeps the Brotherhood’s political parties funded for election campaigns.)
Although Qatar is itself a brutal feudalist fiefdom, it is a friendly residence for exiles.
It is also small enough in population and wealthy enough in bread and circuses to be insulated domestically from the Brotherhood’s revolutionary vision of liberation for the region’s poor and oppressed.
But for every other local Sunni-majority autocracy, and particularly Saudi Arabia, that vision is a direct threat of regime change.