The implications of text messages sent by Qatar’s ruler to its citizens before hosting last month’s FIFA World Cup, hinting that he has grave worries about the future of the tiny sheikhdom if it is not deemed “repentant,” has generated a significant amount of international interest, which goes far beyond the thoughts of the average person. There are, however, groups and organizations with a much more serious interest, and one of those is the U.S. federal government’s intelligence organizations, who will be looking to see how the Qataris have stacked the cards in their favor ahead of the 2022 World Cup, scheduled to be held in the country.
In October 2018, French counterterrorism officials concluded that there was an Islamic State militant presence in Doha, Doha, and the surrounding area. Officials in Paris noted that in 2018 a number of Islamic State operatives had been arrested in the state of Qatar.
Qatar’s actions and policies also raise the question of the penetration of intelligence and security structures within the Gulf Arab states, given that many have been in place for decades now. There are also those who assert that the U.S. has been using the Gulf States as a conduit to bypass al-Qaeda and, specifically, to send weapons into Syria and the Islamic State. It is not hard to imagine how that might benefit Turkey, as the U.S. and Qatar have been strategically allied in the fight against the Islamic State and in its return to political stability.
While Qatar has denied that it has helped the U.S. in any way, there remains a clear question of intent: did Qatar make its history-making hosting of the FIFA World Cup possible by falling into line with the U.S. playbook?