By Souad Sbai
The case of the pro-Qatar turnaround of Matteo Salvini offers the opportunity to concretely measure the quarters of moderation and equilibrium that the Minister of Interior, Vice Premier and leader of the League Party has suddenly attributed to Doha’s regime, whom he previously labeled as a terrorist state.
Certainly, Salvini has never heard about the Qatari tribal family Al Ghofran, which has been subjected to repression and discrimination for over twenty years because it is not aligned with the Al Thani ruling clan, and not even of the poet Mohammed Al Ajami, sentenced to life imprisonment in 2011 because he had authored few verses that had hurt the sensitivity of the then emir Hamad, who came to power in 1996 thanks to a coup whose victim was his own father. Al Ajami was released in 2016 following the “forgiveness” received by the new Emir Tamim, son of Hamad, whom Salvini eagerly met during his criticized business trip to Doha at the end of October.
The release of Al Ajami is the proof that the Qatari emirs are quite liable to the pressure of the international community. A pressure that is not exercised today to obtain the abolition of the laws that continue to keep in a position of substantial slavery the foreign workers employed in the construction of the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup, as repeatedly denounced by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations.
After leaving Doha’s golden throne to Tamim, Hamed took refuge behind the scenes in order to hide as much as possible Qatar’s responsibilities in deflecting the course of the so-called Arab Spring in the extremist direction of the Muslim Brotherhood, bringing death and destruction into countries like Syria, Iraq and Libya. The great protagonist of that story was Doha’s international broadcaster Al Jazeera – Salvini may have heard about it.
Al Jazeera had already acted as spokesperson for Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and during the Arab Spring its English version managed to convince, through a massive disinformation campaign, a substantial part of the Western world of the good, pacifist and democratic soul of the Muslim Brotherhood, thus favoring their rise at the helm of the riots that broke out in 2011 across the Middle East. At the same time, in the Arabic version, Al Jazeera advertised high representatives of the Al Nusra Front, a notorious terrorist group active in Syria and openly linked to Al Qaeda, and interviewed alleged experts on Islam who declared loyalty to ISIS (perhaps because Al Nusra and ISIS were both armed and financed by Qatar?).
Moreover, Al Jazeera served as a pulpit for the preaching and directives (even concerning the lawfulness of suicide attacks) of the famous Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi, the supreme spiritual guide of the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the world, in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and the West. President of the International Federation of Muslim Scholars and of the European Council for Fatwa and Research based in Dublin, Qaradawi has shaped Qatar’s political-religious orientation according to the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood as of the 1960s, when he took refuge in Doha coming from Nasser’s Egypt. The Al Thani dynasty entrusted Qaradawi with the task to “build” Islam in the small emirate, which was about to become independent from the British protectorate and very rich in petrodollars. Qaradawi has thus become the guarantor of new generations of religious, academic and political figures, who look and still look at the world with the eyes of the Muslim Brotherhood. The same eyes of the emirs Hamad and Tamim Al Thani, who publicly reserve to Qaradawi the treatment of a venerable, almost divine figure, with solemnity, bows and also gestures of affection that indicate the great familiarity between the Sheikh and the Al Thani clan.
With the support of Doha’s regime, which had put at his disposal money, international influence and Al Jazeera, Qaradawi hoped to collect what had sown in over 50 years of tireless work aimed at the seizing of power in the Middle East by the Muslim Brotherhood, especially in “his” Egypt, the country of origin of the Muslim Brotherhood itself. Fortunately, such a scenario did not materialize, but the objectives and ambitions of the alliance between Doha’s regime and the Muslim Brotherhood remain unaltered, also as regards the hegemonization of the West.
Is this the moderate Qatar Salvini speaks about? Italy’s best ally in the Gulf where there is no future for extremism? Will the followers of Qaradawi in Italy be the privileged interlocutors of the Vice Premier in the new Islamic Council to be created within the Ministry of Interior? The Italians are waiting for an answer, but there is no doubt that they would not like to see the League’s sovereignist and populist leader putting himself at the service of the advance of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamist agenda in Italy.