For years, Qatar has used its vast fossil-fuel wealth to fund Islamist groups throughout the Middle East and beyond, especially those affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood—including Hamas. This policy, together with Doha’s maintenance of friendly relations with Tehran, has repeatedly stirred the ire of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Yet in a recent interview with a French magazine, the country’s ruler, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, flatly denied any relationship between his government and the Brotherhood, adding that “there are no active members of the Muslim Brotherhood, or any groups related to it, on Qatari land.” Alberto M. Fernandez comments:
One thing I learned from decades of government service is that there are many ways for government officials—all of them, including Western ones—to lie that skirt outright falsehood in some technical fashion while covering up an inconvenient reality. . . . It may well be that Sheikh Tamim is absolutely right that at the precise moment of his remarks there were no card-carrying Muslim Brotherhood members being hosted in Doha, no one who was waiting on a check or a bag of money from Qatar, or whose work was being facilitated in some way by the Qatari state.
The remarks [ignore the fact that] the two Muslim Brotherhood-type governments in the world, the ones in power in Ankara and Gaza, very much do receive billions in Qatari support. [There is also] another Qatari favorite, the Islamist Nahda party of Tunisia, which held power until recently in that country.
Tamim’s remarks also [require] a carve-out for his mentor Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a longtime Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader but for many years now a Qatari citizen and connected to Islamist organizations created for him and funded by Qatar. . . . And while the Al Jazeera Arabic television network funded by Qatar and based in Doha is chock-full of Islamists, who is to say whether or not they are “active” Brotherhood members, perhaps just inactive ones who think exactly like them?
Interestingly, one place where it seems you did not see the emir’s words about the Muslim Brotherhood highlighted was in Al Jazeera itself. An Arabic-language news article on the . . . interview in Al Jazeera was headlined “Emir of Qatar: Doha’s Foreign Policy Aims at Bringing Views Closer Together.” The article included no mention whatsoever of Tamim’s remarks [about the Brotherhood].