IslamismAugust 25 2022, 14:14 pm

Qatar’s Development Policy as a Tool for Political Influence and Nation Branding

The Rosa Lux­em­burg Stiftung, a polit­i­cal foun­da­tion asso­ci­at­ed with Ger­many’s The Left par­ty, has recent­ly pub­lished a report exam­in­ing the var­i­ous objects of Qatar’s devel­op­ment pol­i­cy, argu­ing that the emi­rate uses human­i­tar­i­an engage­ment to “secure its pow­er-polit­i­cal influ­ence” and wage “nation brand­ing.” Accord­ing to the RLS report:

August 15, 2022 With its human­i­tar­i­an engage­ment, Qatar not only wants to present itself as a reli­able and respon­si­ble part­ner of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty, but also to secure its pow­er-polit­i­cal influ­ence in coun­tries of geostrate­gic inter­est. Par­tic­u­lar­ly dur­ing the so-called “Arab Spring,” Qatar pro­vid­ed exten­sive finan­cial aid to the Islamist Mus­lim Broth­er­hood (Ikhwan) in Egypt and the Ennah­da par­ty in Tunisia. In this way, Qatar hoped to sup­port the Islamist advance in North Africa in order to strength­en its own posi­tion of pow­er. […] Devel­op­ment pol­i­cy is no longer to be used exclu­sive­ly as an instru­ment of pow­er, but rather to strength­en inter­na­tion­al part­ner­ships and serve “nation brand­ing.” With inter­na­tion­al devel­op­ment coop­er­a­tion, Qatar wants to present itself as a sup­port­er of the UN Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals (SDGs) and as a pro­mot­er of glob­al edu­ca­tion and devel­op­ment agen­das. Devel­op­ment aid is thus part of Qatar’s mea­sures to estab­lish itself as a glob­al brand. This also applies to sports: dur­ing the World Cup, sev­er­al actions will be imple­ment­ed by Qatari devel­op­ment orga­ni­za­tions such as EAA to draw atten­tion to the SDGs. In addi­tion, well before the World Cup, Qatar has already estab­lished sev­er­al ini­tia­tives and orga­ni­za­tions such as the Aspire Acad­e­my to devel­op sports tal­ent inside and out­side Qatar. [Trans­lat­ed with DeepL]

Read the rest here.

The report iden­ti­fies the Qatar Foun­da­tion, Edu­ca­tion Above All, the Qatar Fund for Devel­op­ment, and the Qatar Char­i­ty (QC) as the most impor­tant Qatar-linked orga­ni­za­tions involved in devel­op­ment work. It says the QC is the world’s largest and most influ­en­tial Islam­ic foun­da­tion, pro­vid­ing over $506 mil­lion in aid to more than 14 mil­lion peo­ple in need in 44 coun­tries. The report also notes that QC seeks to counter accu­sa­tions it only pro­motes Islamists but that it alleged­ly con­tin­ues to fund ini­tia­tives close to the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood:

Qatar aims to counter accu­sa­tions that Qatari devel­op­ment aid still pro­motes dubi­ous Islamists with this approach and stricter con­trol of Islam­ic foun­da­tions like QC. To this end, QC in par­tic­u­lar coop­er­ates in many projects with UN orga­ni­za­tions such as UNICEF, UNHCR or the Inter­na­tion­al Orga­ni­za­tion for Migra­tion (IOM). Nev­er­the­less, the lack of trans­paren­cy in Qatari devel­op­ment coop­er­a­tion is still crit­i­cized, and orga­ni­za­tions such as QC alleged­ly con­tin­ue to fund ini­tia­tives that are close to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, includ­ing in Europe. [Trans­lat­ed with DeepL]

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report has pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed how Qatar uses the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood to wield ‘rent­ed pow­er’ and how it sup­ports Euro­pean Broth­er­hood groups.


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