Qatar’s Increasingly Tenuous Alliance with Iran

Feb. 25 2019

Home to the largest U.S. air base in the region, Qatar now finds itself in conflict with its Gulf neighbors over its refusal to support their efforts to contain Iran—with which it shares the world’s largest natural-gas field—and its continued backing of the Muslim Brotherhood, which these countries have turned against. Jonathan Spyer examines the contradictory position in which Doha finds itself:

Qatar’s support for the Sunni political Islam of the Muslim Brotherhood does not make it an automatic fit for Iran, whose main support is among Shiite and minority communities and which promotes its own brand of Shiite political and revolutionary Islam. Common enmity toward Israel formed the basis of the strong relations, built up since the early 1990s, between Tehran and Hamas, which emerged from the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood. But during the Arab Spring, the Brotherhood and Iran found themselves on separate sides, as the former, with Qatari financial aid and media support, sought to establish a rival, Sunni Islamist regional power bloc. This [tension] led, for example, to Iran and Qatar backing different sides in the Syrian civil war.

But now, with the Muslim Brotherhood significantly weakened on the regional level, the Syrian rebellion close to defeat, and Doha facing repercussions from its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council countries for its support of radicalism, Qatar has been moving over the last eighteen months sharply in the direction of closer relations with Teheran. . . .

Qatar’s regional strategy is based on precarious and contradictory foundations. The emirate suppresses Islamist activity within its own territory, while partnering with Islamist forces elsewhere—not because of a deep or genuine affiliation, but in order to inflate Qatari regional influence.

This approach is now creating major contradictions and problems for Qatar: specifically, as the U.S. seeks to build a regional response to Iranian aggression and hegemonic ambitions, Qatar finds itself in the untenable position of wishing neither to cooperate with the U.S., nor to ally with anti-U.S. regional forces. The contradictions and implausibility of this stance are currently manifesting themselves.

Welcome to Mosaic

Register now to get two more stories free

Register Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in now

Read more at Middle East Forum

More about: Arab Spring, Hamas, Iran, Middle East, Muslim Brotherhood, Politics & Current Affairs, Qatar, U.S. Foreign policy

 

A Lesson from Moshe Dayan for Israel’s Syria Policy

Dec. 11 2019

In the 1950s, Jerusalem tasked Moshe Dayan with combating the Palestinian guerrillas—known as fedayeen—who infiltrated Israel’s borders from Sinai, Gaza, and Jordan to attack soldiers or civilians and destroy crops. When simple retaliation, although tactically effective, proved insufficient to deter further attacks, Dayan developed a more sophisticated long-term strategy of using attrition to Israel’s advantage. Gershon Hacohen argues that the Jewish state can learn much from Dayan’s approach in combating the Iranian presence in Syria—especially since the IDF cannot simply launch an all-out offensive to clear Syria of Iranian forces:

Sign up to read more

You've read all your free articles for this month

Register

Sign up now for unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Moshe Dayan, Palestinian terror, Syria