What Europe can do to resolve the Qatar crisis

Written by Richard Burchill on 20 July 2017 in Opinion Plus
Opinion Plus

If Europe is serious about fighting terrorism and extremism, the institutions of the EU need to be more actively engaged in the current situation involving Qatar, argues Richard Burchill.

Qatar | Photo credit: Adobe Stock


It has been documented, from numerous sources, that Qatar is active in funding and supporting terrorism and extremism.  This activity either directly involves the country’s government or sees the government turning a blind eye to the nefarious characters living and operating in the country.

Europe is feeling the impact of Qatar’s behaviour and Europe’s institutions need to give more attention to the matter. Four states in the region, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, have implemented a range of diplomatic and economic measures that signal their dissatisfaction with Qatar while applying pressure upon the government to change its behaviour.

This is not a local spat. Qatar’s failure to take any effective action to prevent funding and allow extremists to operate freely has a major impact on European and global security.


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The current situation has arisen out of a combination of Qatar’s continued support of terrorism, including Al Qaeda and the Nusrah Front, alongside providing extremists with platforms for furthering hate.

Qatar has allowed proponents of political Islam to express their views that the Caliphate must be imposed upon Europe through the supremacy of distorted understandings of Islamic law. Qatar has allowed leaders from a range of designated terrorists groups to freely operate and to spread their odious ideologies that can only be described as the glorification of terror.

In 2013/14 the states in the region agreed with Qatar that such behaviour was no longer acceptable and all parties agreed to take action. Qatar refused and continues to refuse that it supports and harbours terrorists and extremists, no matter how much evidence is given. Qatar’s neighbours no longer have any confidence in the country’s government, or its ability to fall in line with global trends on denying support for terrorism.

The EU should move to a more active role in supporting current efforts at negotiation, as well as providing options for long term plans directed at sustainable cooperation. This is not a matter of choosing sides, rather it is an issue of upholding and supporting the efforts of the international system to end terrorism and extremism; supporting European values.

Qatar needs to comply with the UN Security Council sanctions regime; it needs to cooperate with Interpol and others in taking action against designated terrorists; it needs to stop providing platforms for extremists to voice offensive, anti-Semitic hate speech, or for terrorists to be glorified and celebrated.

The European Commission is starting to take a more active role, it appears, but this engagement needs to intensify.

Members of the European Parliament need to ask the Commission why there is no public condemnation of Qatar’s lack of adherence to the international efforts to end terrorist funding and support.

European institutions can offer their expertise in dealing with technical and legal issues.

Europe can be a reliable partner for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states in resolving differences and in establishing effective foundations for cooperation in the pursuit of international peace and security.

The time is now right for Europe to exercise leadership in the global fight against terrorism and extremism. Europe’s institutions were built on political differences, with the acknowledgement that cooperation is the better way forward.  Europe needs to bring this experience to the GCC region to support efforts to end funding and support for terrorism.

About the author

Dr. Richard Burchill is the Director of Research and Engagement at TRENDS Research & Advisory, Abu Dhabi, UAE

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