As it has been reported, the leaders of the International Union of Muslim Scholars drafted an open letter, stating that they “share a positive attitude towards the Russian Federation, which supports the Arabs and Muslims today.” Moreover, the letter states that if any any decision is to be made in relation to the Russian Federation, those making the decision must first consult Russia’s Islamic theologians. The letter is truly unique, in fact, it says that the International Union of Muslim Scholars supports the actions of the Russian authorities in Syria. If there is at least a couple of sincere words in this letter, then means a lot, especially if one is to remember that the headquarters of this organization are located in Doha – the capital of Qatar, a Wahhabi state. Moreover, the letter states that the fate of Bashar al-Assad should be decided by the Syrian people themselves.
It would be an understatement to say that it’s an unusual step, since this International Union is one of the most influential and authoritative Muslim organization in the world that brings together Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, and even Ibadi Muslim, that are generally residing in Oman. There’s at least 90 thousands of prominent Muslim scholars to be found in the ranks of this Union, including more than 40 of the most authoritative Russian theologians – those are muftis and rectors of the Islamic institutions of the North Caucasus and Volga regions. So, it’s a truly influential organization.
But one thing should be remembered all along – the president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars is Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and he’s the spiritual and ideological leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, which remain the largest association of radical Islamists in the whole world. In 1963 the then president of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser expelled Yusuf al-Qaradawi from Egypt for attempts to undermine the ruling regime. But the radical scholar wasn’t wondering the world for long, since he found refuge in Qatar – the Wahhabi emirate. Yusuf al-Qaradawi was the spiritual leader and the ideological mastermind of all the Arab “revolutions” – Egyptian, Libyan, Syrian and Yemeni. It was he, together with the former Prime Minister of Qatar Hamad bin Jassim, to organize in 2011 an assault on the Russian ambassador to Doha, since Russia’s envoy exposed his vicious policies of encouraging the Arab revolutions.
Largely due Qaradawi’s influence on the former emir of Qatar, that now has been surpassed by the influence he has on the sitting Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Doha has been fomenting and financing the wave of the Arab “Springs” and, despite all the recent changes in the situation in Syria, it continues supporting the terrorist group that goes under the name Jabhat al-Nusra. What is curious is that after Russian intervenion in Syria Sheikh Yusuf urged Muslims around the world to wage a “jihad” against Russia, and now we witness a complete reversal of his policies.
Many analysts have immediately noted that we are witnessing an incredibly positive phenomenon, almost a complete change Qaradawi’s mentality. But is there any change at all? It’s obvious that a leopard cannot change its spots.
The question is what lies behind this step? The answer is pretty simple – the State of Qatar has finally understood that the retribution for its ongoing support of international terrorism is inevitable. It’s been clear all along that there’s a Qatari trace in the terrorist attack against the Russian aircraft over Sinai, that claimed the lives of 224. Even if Qatari security services were not planning this attack, in any case, it was carried out by the groups that have been sponsored by Qatar. This may lead to sanctions against the Wahhabi state, since the financial support of terrorism is a direct violation of a number of UN conventions. And then, the terrorist attack over Sinai was followed by the attack on France, which resulted in 132 people being killed. There’s a growing number of calls being voiced across the world to establish an international tribunal to prosecute ISIL and its sponsors, and Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been pretty active in the support they provided to those.
It was not a coincidence that on November 18 Russia’s President Vladimir Putin signed a decree, according to which a special commission is going to be assembled to collect information about individuals and groups that have been supporting international terrorists. Moreover, this commission will have the right to demand this information from authorities of foreign countries. All funds and property that such individuals or groups have been using to assist terrorists will thereby be arrested.
Therefore, the ruling Qatari family decided to get itself some form of worst-case scenario insurance, staring with pushing Qaradawi to draft a letter in support of Russia and its actions. This letter will soon be followed by attempts to show Moscow that Qatar shares “a deep understanding” of Russia’s position on Syria. After all, if the leaders of ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusra, Jaish al-Fath, and Jaish al-Islam are going to be caught and brought to justice, they can testify against the countries and organizations that were directly involved in sponsoring crimes against Syria, Iraq, France, and Russian. And then a long list of Qatari officials and prominent scholars will inevitably be tried and sentenced.
There’s only one problem: in addition to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which, in principle, are not hard to punish, there’s countries like the US, UK, Turkey, Jordan and others that supported terrorists too. Some US senators, including John. McCain met with the leaders of radical groups personally. The CIA and the Pentagon have been supplying them with weapons and trained their militants to create an “opposition” to the elected Syrian government. Turkey and Jordan provided their territory to deploy training camps, while allowing weapons and terrorists to flow into Syria across their territories. But there’s no prosecution of the United States officials due to the fact we are talking about one of the two major nuclear powers in the world. England will be protected from prosecution by Washington, since it’s a permanent member of the UN Security, while Turkey and Saudi Arabia play a “special” role in Washington’s policies. But nothing prevents American officials from throwing a dwarf emirate under the bus. The ruling dynasty will simply be replaced by a republican system of government in the process of “democratization” of the Middle East.
There’s no scenario in which Moscow should believe that Qatar may change its ways. The emirate maintains its support of ISIL and other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, and damages Russia’s interests buy flooding European markets with its cheap LNG supplies. On top of all, the investigation in the downing of the Russian Airbus in Egypt should establish who really was behind it.
Hopefully, Moscow will not be deceived by Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s letter. Doha – was and is an enemy of the Russian Federation, and will remain one until it’s punished for all the crimes it committed against Russia, including the sponsoring of the terrorist uprising in Chechnya 20 years ago.
If Western countries are to prevent Qatar from being prosecuted, should its involvement in the downing of Russia’s Airbus be established, Moscow can proceed with the punishement on its own, in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, that grants the right to self-defense in case of “an act of war” being committed. And Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has already classified the downing of A321 as act of war, so those responsible will not evade the prosecution.
Peter Lvov, Ph.D in political science, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.