By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
A recent report has emerged in the BBC, which reveals confidential documents in connection with Qatar, the Iranian regime, its militia and other terror groups.
The development is critical because it draws on several important issues. First of all, the revealed information, text messages, and private phone calls prove that Qatar conspired with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah to transfer to Iran and its Shia militias around $1 billion for the release of Qatari hostages in southern Iraq. The intriguing issue is that this time, after the publication of the report, even Qatari officials have acknowledged the fact that the revealed texts and voicemails are accurate, according to BBC.
The second critical issue is that the report confirms that Qatar paid and conspired with individuals and entities, which are either designated as terrorist groups or listed as top sponsors of global terrorism, such as the IRGC, General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC’s Quds Force who is subject to European and American sanctions, Iran-backed Shia militias- the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Iraqi Kataib Hezbollah (the Party of God Brigades) that killed American troops through deadly attacks and bombs, and Syrian terror groups such as al-Nusra Front which has also been linked to the terrorist group, Al Qaeda.
In addition, as the text messages and phone calls reveal, it has become evident that Doha was initially dishonest about paying terrorist groups, by staunchly denying such payments.Previously, the Qatari leaders repeatedly denied, denounced and robustly asserted that Doha had nothing to do with this. In March 2018, Qatar’s ambassador to the United States, Sheikh Meshal Bin Hamad Al Thani, wrote to the New York Time clearly stating that “Qatar did not pay a ransom.”
Furthermore, we should not lose sight of another crucial aspect regarding the Iranian regime’s role in this or similar operations. The disclosed confidential information is very revealing about one of the Islamic Republic’s fundraising tactics, which relies on illicit activities conducted by the IRGC, such as kidnapping and extortion , along with its militia groups, and proxies across the region.
It also points to the IRGC’s shrewd political strategy, as it attempted to tie the release of hostages to Qatari involvement in Syria and Yemen. Two of the demands to releasing the Qatari hostages were that “Qatar should leave the Saudi-led coalition battling Shia rebels in Yemen. Qatar should secure the release of Iranian soldiers held prisoner by rebels in Syria.” The Iranian regime is forcefully trying to expands it military and political influence in both Syria and Yemen. In Iraq, the Islamic Republic exerts significant influence directly or indirectly through the conglomerate of more than 40 Iraqi militia groups which operate under the name of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
It is important to point out that the leaking of the confidential documents also raises questions about the casualness of the Qatari leaders with regards to conducting operations or pursuing policies, which directly support terrorism. Such support for terrorism has also been evident throughout their foreign policy (such as supporting Nusra Front in Syria, and hosting terror groups in Doha).
Finally, the hacked messages and phone calls highlight the willingness of the Iranian regime and its militias to exploit and escalate conflicts, and more importantly, use illegal and immoral tactics to achieve political and military outcomes. It is worth noting that this shows that corruption is at the heart of these organizations. The notion that, Qatar conspired with the IRGC, and Hezbollah to transfer to Iran and its Shia militias and terror groups around $1 billion, should be taken gravely by other governments and the international community.
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This article was first published by medium