Saudi Arabia -- which recently accused Qatar of funding extremism -- has found itself in an inevitable quagmire amid the worsening crisis in the Gulf. A new report has claimed that Saudi Arabia is the chief foreign promoter of Islamist extremism in the United Kingdom (UK).
The revelations of the report are significant as they reek of hypocrisy at a time when Saudi Arabia along with United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Yemen and Egypt have isolated Qatar over its extremist links. The Saudi-led Gulf bloc has alleged that Doha supports Islamist groups and is associated with terrorism and that they would continue to alienate Qatar until it succumbs to the countries' list of demands.
However, a report by The Henry Jackson Society highlights that there is a "clear and growing link" between Islamist organisations in receipt of overseas funds -- majorly from Saudi Arabia -- hate preachers and Jihadist groups promoting violence. The think tank has also called for a public enquiry in the role of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations in promoting extremism in the UK.
The report states that a number of Gulf nations are providing financial support to mosques and Islamic educational institutions which have played host to extremist preachers. It also claims that Saudi Arabia is at the top of the list. It also alleges that in a certain number of cases, institutions in the UK which receive Saudi funding are run directly from Saudi Arabia.
The UK's Saudi Arabian embassy, however, said that the claims made by the report are "categorically false."
The Gulf is currently rife with the Shia-Sunni Islamic divide, where most of the Sunni-majority nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, are against the ones who follow the Shia branch of Islam -- Iran.
Iran, a Shia-dominated country, has been attacked, vilified, and isolated from the rest of the Middle East, Europe and the United States at the behest of Saudi Arabia and its ally, Israel. In order to curb Iran's influence, Saudi Arabia has also developed a "Sunni coalition" in the region, which also includes Qatar.
The question that looms in this quandary is that if Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have been accused of funding extremism, then why are these countries singling out Qatar, which is also Sunni dominated? The answer lies in its increasing economic proximity to Iran.
Total Deal with Iran
Qatar recently joined Iran in a joint oil drilling/natural gas development deal, which was brokered by French oil refining company Total. Both the countries set their religious divide aside to enter into an economically sound deal which would practically benefit them.
However, a few weeks ago, Saudi Arabia along with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) issued a stern warning to Qatar not to strike deals or go in business with Iran.
Tensions between Qatar and Saudis heightened when Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani contacted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in May.
The crisis between the Gulf nations escalated further with Qatar's publication of a story that said that Al Thani had called Iran "a regional and Islamic power that cannot be ignored." Although Qatar said that its state-run news agency and Twitter account were hacked, the state-linked media continued to publish comments on the same line.
This resulted in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to block access to Al Jazeera and the affiliated sites.
The relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia have also worsened because of Qatar's support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which is Sunni Islamist religious, political, and social movement.
The Gulf monarchs consider the Brotherhood as a threat because they see the movement as the only organised transnational movement that offers a different model of political activity and legitimacy.
"They (the Arab nations) see that (the Muslim Brotherhood) as a threat. That's why the Muslim Brotherhood is so divisive. Because it captures this fundamental divide over the Arab Spring," Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who worked at the think tank's Doha centre, told Bloomberg.
List of demands
Saudi Arabia and its allies have presented a list of steep demands to Qatar to end their dispute which has rattled the region. The GCC has given just over a week of time for the energy-rich country to comply with it. However, the demands are quite unrealistic, over-arching and all at once impossible to comply with.
Among the 13 demands, the key ones require Qatar to shut Al-Jazeera TV network, cut back diplomatic ties with Iran, sever relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and end Turkey's military presence in Qatar, according to two Western diplomats in the region familiar with the document.
Qatar refuses to comply
Qatar, which has repeatedly rejected all the terrorism allegations, has refused to comply with the demands and said that they were so extreme that they seemed deliberately designed to be rejected.
After the demand deadline expired a day ago, Saudi and the GCC gave Qatar an additional 48 hours to meet the ultimatum. However, even with the extended deadline, Doha is likely to refuse to comply with the set of requirements listed out by the Gulf countries.