Qatar-funded ‘Islamist Quartet’ driven by anti-Saudi agenda – analyst

Saudi’s arch enemy Qatar has long been at the helm of a quartet, including Turkey, Malaysia, and Pakistan, and has been hard at work to take advantage of political trends in other Muslim states to stir up trouble for Riyadh, wrote human rights and national security attorney, Irina Tsukerman.

While the seemingly new Islamist alliance, the “ Islamist Quartet,’’ looking to counter the influence of the Kingdom was officially announced in the 2019 Kuala Lumpur Summit, the states have for years been forging relationships and common agendas, Tsukerman wrote in an analysis for the Israeli Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) on July 2.

Ankara- Doha relations have strengthened, particularly since a diplomatic crisis with Qatar erupted on June 5, 2017, when the Arab quartet accused the Gulf country of supporting Islamist groups, also backed by Turkey.

Qatari leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani announced a financial support and investment package of $15 billion for Turkey in August 2018, when the latter was faced with a financial crisis. Earlier this year, Doha offered support to Turkey’s central bank, expanding a currency-swap agreement to $15 billion to mitigate the country’s economic shocks from the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, Turkey has for years been forging relations with Pakistan, Tsukerman said, investing heavily in Pakistan to counter its traditional Saudi orientation, while Malaysia and Turkey have also advanced military ties.

The Saudi-Qatar conflict dates back to 2003, the analyst said, when Doha exploited a misunderstanding between Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Saudi Arabia’s then-Crown Prince Abdullah, in a bid to exacerbate a bitter dispute between the two sides.

Qatar has since been“ funding of terrorist groups and meddling in the affairs of Arab countries came to the fore, causing significant tensions across the region,’’ Tsukerman said, pointing out to its backing of terrorists in war-torn Libya in particular.

Formed with Qatar as the funding centre, the Islamic Quarter largely conforms with Doha’s agenda, the analyst wrote.