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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

US advisers quit Qatar role as emir dines with Muslim Brotherhood leader

Qatar's emir has triggered an exodus of leading US advisers to his government after hosting a leading Islamist extremist at dinner this week

Yousef Al Qaradawi, the radical Egyptian head of the Muslim Brotherhood frequently uses Al Jazeera to justify suicide bombings. Karim Jaffar / AFP
Yousef Al Qaradawi, the radical Egyptian head of the Muslim Brotherhood frequently uses Al Jazeera to justify suicide bombings. Karim Jaffar / AFP

Prominent US consultants engaged by Qatar as part of its influence operations in the US have quit in recent days, including one in outright protest provoked by pictures of the emir and Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has a long track record of incitement to violence.

Mort Klein, a campaigner who traveled to Qatar as recently as February as a part of an outreach to influential Jewish Americans, said he could no longer associate with Doha. “I’ve lost confidence that they’re at all serious about changing,” he told the Politico news site.

Joey Allaham, a Syrian-born businessman who has been an active proponent of Qatar, has also cut ties, citing the meeting in Doha during a Ramadan gathering for religious leaders. Completing the spate of resignations was Nick Muzin, a former adviser to Senator Ted Cruz who has been engaged in lobbying efforts since the boycott of Qatar by the Arab Quartet.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani was seen laughing with Qaradawi, who was seated next to him at the gathering. Qaradawi has been hosted by Doha for decades but the Muslim Brotherhood leader is banned from entering both Britain and the US for his record of hate speech.

“Qatar enjoys portraying themselves as the purveyor of peace in the region, but this could not be further from the truth,” said Mr Allaham.

The resignations come as Qatar marked a year of efforts to shore up its position as a result of the diplomatic and security crisis with its neighbours.

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Politico said that Mr Allaham had "emerged in recent months as an important behind-the-scenes player in the stateside influence battle touched off by the Gulf crisis".

Mr Muzin also hinted at future differences to be revealed with Qatar in a statement announcing he had cut ties. "I am proud of the work we did to foster peaceful dialogue in the Middle East, to increase Qatar’s defense and economic ties with the United States, and to expand humanitarian support of Gaza,” he said “I look forward to speaking out in the days ahead about the challenges we faced and what more needs to be done.”

Qatar invited leading American Jewish leaders, including the lawyer Alan Dershowitz and the rabbi Shmuley Boteach to visit the country in January. The trip was not an unalloyed sucess with Mr Boteach dubbing Mr Dershowitz a "junketeer" and the lawyer decrying a “personal attack”.