Why is Qatar buying 180 main battle tanks?

Arabs, united.

Citing German reporting, Reuters related on Sunday that the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar plans to buy a total of 180 Leopard 2 main battle tanks from Germany.  An original buy of 62 Leopard 2s was announced in April 2013; the recent disclosure indicates Qatar will buy 118 more.

The total purchase would enlarge Qatar’s tank inventory by a factor of six.  The inventory currently consists of 30 French-built AMX-30s.  The Leopard 2 (Qatar is buying the 2A7+) is a modernized 61-ton tank suitable for heavy armor warfare (comparable to the U.S. M-1 series); the older AMX-30 is a lighter, 40-ton tank, less capable in the field and with some features optimized for urban warfare.  The 14 July report references the World Cup in 2022 – which Qatar will host – and seems to imply that the tank purchase is related to World Cup preparations.  But replacing 30 AMX-30s with 180 Leopard 2 MBTs is not what you would do Continue reading “Why is Qatar buying 180 main battle tanks?”

Morsi down, Saudis up in battle for Syria

Saudis on fire.

Mohammed Morsi’s call for holy war in Syria spooked the Egyptian military, and it alarmed the Saudis too.  I suspect it even played a role in the decision of Qatar’s new emir to depose his father (long a supporter of Morsi and promoter of Islamist influence in the Arab Spring nations) at the end of June.  The new Sheikh Tamim has moved quickly to shift some of his father’s key policies, and we are likely to see more solidarity between Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the coming weeks – but with the Saudis now edging into the lead.

As Qatar’s profile changes, there will be a significant shift in the dynamics of Islamism, one of whose best-organized factions (Qaradawi and his International Union of Muslim Scholars) has had a reliable source of funding and tacit national support from the oil-rich emirate.  There will be blowback within Qatar, of course; the new emir will have to tack and trim to discourage the kind of protests and terror attacks that now routinely menace neighboring countries like Iraq, Bahrain, and Jordan.  As Turkey’s Islamist minister to the EU, Egemen Bagis, warns us, Islamism is here to stay.  (Bagis is the Turkish minister who threatened Angela Merkel in June with an “inauspicious end” and “severe retaliation,” if a resumption of Turkey’s EU negotiations were blocked because of the Erdogan government’s recent response to protesters.)

But as the drama unfolds, factions will bob upward and downward Continue reading “Morsi down, Saudis up in battle for Syria”

It’s on: Muslim Brotherhood influence rejected in two nations

They still don’t want the Muslim Brotherhood.

It’s a little early to predict the exact outcome of the Morsi-military smackdown underway in Egypt.  (Update as this goes to press:  the Egyptian military says Morsi has been removed.)  But one thing is certain: Egyptians are mounting a broad-scale rejection of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Qatar too?

On the same day, the emirate of Qatar, hundreds of miles away in the Persian Gulf, may be doing substantially the same thing.  Unconfirmed reports in Arabic and French-language media indicate that the new emir of Qatar, who took over from his father last week, has ordered Yusuf al-Qaradawi to leave the country.  Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, is an Egyptian who has made his home – and operated an Islamist institute – in Qatar for years.  According to the Algerian news site Reporters.dz (link above; my translation): Continue reading “It’s on: Muslim Brotherhood influence rejected in two nations”

Biggest anti-Israel conference evah? Americans there; UN, Europe in official attendance; *UPDATE*

Braying for a piece of Jerusalem.

An “International Conference on Jerusalem” is being held 26-27 February in Doha, Qatar.  The conference was scheduled by the Arab League during its meeting in Sirte, Libya in 2010.  Its purpose is to combat the “Judaization of Jerusalem.”  In the words of the Global Muslim Brotherhood Report, which tracks Muslim Brotherhood activities, this month’s conference “represents an unprecedented coalition arrayed against Israel.”

This isn’t hyperbole.  The conference is unusually well advertised in English, being referred to in the media regularly as a “conference on Jerusalem,” rather than sparsely as a “conference on al-Quds,” the Arabic (and larger Islamic) term for Jerusalem.  Yousef al-Qaradawi, “spiritual leader” of the Muslim Brotherhood, has held a number of conferences on Jerusalem in the last decade, hosting them around the Arab world and flying largely under the radar in terms of his media posture with the West.  Researchers on the earlier Qaradawi conferences were more likely to find them under “al-Quds” than under “Jerusalem.”  But the February 2012 conference is simply billed Continue reading “Biggest anti-Israel conference evah? Americans there; UN, Europe in official attendance; *UPDATE*”