An ominous warning about the Gulf states

Share

The timing and target of Saturday's suicide bombing in the Gulf state of Qatar point to an attack either masterminded, or inspired, by al-Qa'ida. The bombing, in which a British man died, came on the second anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq, and the intended victims were Western expatriates - many of them British - staging a play in a local theatre. The attack also occurred just days after a taped message from the Saudi dissident who is purportedly the al-Qa'ida leader in the region urged militants to wage holy war against "crusaders" throughout the Gulf.

The timing and target of Saturday's suicide bombing in the Gulf state of Qatar point to an attack either masterminded, or inspired, by al-Qa'ida. The bombing, in which a British man died, came on the second anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq, and the intended victims were Western expatriates - many of them British - staging a play in a local theatre. The attack also occurred just days after a taped message from the Saudi dissident who is purportedly the al-Qa'ida leader in the region urged militants to wage holy war against "crusaders" throughout the Gulf.

If "crusaders" include employees of Western business or military interests and their families, then it is not surprising that extremists should turn their focus on Qatar. It is the closest ally of the United States in the Gulf, and hosts the largest American military base in the region outside Iraq. Indeed it is from here that the invasion of Iraq was co-ordinated.

Under the present Emir, energy-rich Qatar has welcomed Western investment and become a place where conservative Islam coexists with branches of British and American chains such as Next, Debenhams and Starbucks. By the standards of autocracy in the Arab world, Qatar has a relatively benign ruler who has balanced a cosy relationship with America with such initiatives as funding the creation of al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite television network. In security terms, however, Qatar and the other hitherto peaceful Gulf states represent the soft underbelly of the Western presence in the Middle East.

The death and injury toll from Saturday's attack was mercifully low. But Western governments cannot discount the possibility that it marks the start of a campaign of violence which, perhaps in answer to George Bush's supposed democratic domino effect, is spreading out from Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

It would be premature to forecast that the Gulf states are poised to become the new crucible of al-Qa'ida-inspired terrorism. But the violence in Qatar gives renewed credibility to the view that the US-led invasion of Iraq may have turned not only Iraq, but also the surrounding region, into a breeding ground for a new generation of Islamic extremists.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Bill Cosby dismisses the allegations that have demolished his lovable TV persona as ‘innuendos’  

Bill Cosby: from America's dad to sexual predator

Rupert Cornwell
UK Border Control  

An immigrant speaks out: Do you think I'm feckless?

David Ryan
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin