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US Representatives: Congress must hold Qatar accountable

Amendments will ensure Doha will not protect terror groups

Image Credit: Istockphoto

Dubai: Two US representatives have said they would amend a bill that requires the president to impose sanctions on individuals and state-sponsored agencies that finance terrorist groups.

The amendments will make sure that Qatar does not use its influence to keep the groups it supports off the list, Representative Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), both members of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, said.

"Unlike designated state sponsors of terrorism like Iran and Syria, Qatar uses an innovative approach to avoid the animosity of the West: pursue good relations with the United States, make false promises about combating terror, lavishly fund western universities and business projects – all while quietly financing and promoting terror, allying with Iran, and leveraging an American air base as an insurance policy against punishment for promoting terror," they said in an opinion piece, 'It’s up to Congress to hold Qatar accountable', published by The Hill.

"That’s why we will be offering two key amendments to the bill when it comes before the House Foreign Affairs Committee next month. The first will require regular reporting by the US administration on whether Qatar is living up to its commitments under the memorandum of understanding. The second will mandate reporting on the presence of Hamas financiers residing in Qatar and any transfer of funds or material support either directly or indirectly between Qatar and Hamas."

In July, the US and Qatar signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to combat the financing of terrorism.

However, the two US representatives expressed skepticism.

"Qatar is the master of playing all sides. The same country that served as the US Central Command headquarters during the invasion of Iraq and still hosts a critical American air base today also gives sanctuary to terrorist leaders and spreads its wealth to terrorist and extremist groups throughout the Middle East," they said.

"We cannot just take Qatar at its word when it comes to financing terrorist groups around the Middle East. President Ronald Reagan famously coined the term 'trust, but verify.'  When it comes to terror financing, we prefer 'never trust and always verify'," they said.

Turning off the Qatari spigot of terror financing represents a high priority for America’s national security, they said.

"It’s up to Congress to keep up the pressure until we know for certain the spigot is finally closed."

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