Qatar Amir: Denial of Freedom Led Arab Youth to Terrorism

FEBRUARY 27, 2015 – THE AMIR OF QATAR, speaking at Georgetown yesterday during his first trip to the United States as leader of the Middle East country, said the denial of freedom and dignity to youth after the Arab Spring is responsible for the recent surge of terrorist groups in the Middle East.

His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, who spoke in conversation with Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, gave the example of the young boys who wrote on a wall that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should leave the country. The boys were put in jail, the Amir said, and in some cases tortured.

“If you’re going to see your child be treated like that just because he did something small on the wall,” he said, “… and …then after a few days the regime starts killing his own people, what do you all expect from this atmosphere, what will this atmosphere create? It creates terrorist movement that we are facing now.”

HOPELESSNESS AND TERRORISM

DeGioia referenced Sheikh Tamim’s recent The New York Times op-ed article during the event, which preceded the Amir’s Feb. 24 meeting with President Obama, and stated the Amir’s belief that hopelessness is the root of current terrorist threats in the world.

“If Bashir Assad doesn’t find a solution in solving this problem, we will be facing terrorists movements … that no one can control,” the Amir said after DeGioia asked how the threat of ISIS in Syria should be addressed.

Qatar is part of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS. The Amir said he told Obama that in fighting the terrorist movement, “We have to make sure that if we are going to fight these groups, that these groups don’t come back again. Because if you fight them and we leave them any reason, they’ll come back again in the near future.”

EGYPT, SFS-Q ANNIVERSARY

DeGioia also asked a question that came from the audience about Qatar’s view of the ongoing violence in Egypt.

“We don’t interfere in Egypt, but when the government was elected, we stood by the government,” the Amir said. While he believes what happened in Egypt after the 2013 uprising was wrong, “we should look to the future now.”

Both he and DeGioia noted the 10th anniversary this year of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar.

“Congratulations to all of us that Georgetown has been in Doha now for 10 years,” the Amir said. “We all know how important this prestigious university being in the region in the Middle East. We realize how important it is when we see our students graduate from there and playing a bigger role in my country and also in the region.”

HOSTING THE WORLD CUP

The Amir also said the Arab world should help itself before seeking help from America and joked about Qatar winning the opportunity to host the World Cup.

“I know that you guys, people here were very upset that, ‘how come this small country can beat this great country’… but I think that… you can lose sometimes,” he said to laughter and applause.

Sheikh Tamim assumed his duties as Amir of the State of Qatar in June 2013 following an announcement by his father, then-Amir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, in which the elder sheikh handed over power to his son.

As Amir, Sheikh Tamim is head of the state and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, and presides over the Supreme Council for Economic Affairs and Investment, the Supreme Committee for Coordination and Follow-up, the board of directors of Qatar Investment Authority and the Qatar Olympic Committee.