The Saudis are also annoyed that Qatar talks to Iran, their chief rival, but it’s hardly surprising since the two nations jointly manage a major offshore natural gas reserve.
American judgments about Qatar’s activities have been as mixed as Qatar’s record. In 2014 the State Department branded Qatar a “permissive jurisdiction” for terrorist financing, but has since praised its efforts to prevent such financing and to stop terrorists from crossing its borders as evidence of a “strong partnership.” In February, Daniel Glaser, a former Treasury official, praised Qatar for a “good job” in trying to prevent terrorist financing through controls on its financial sector and local charities and in prosecuting people for illegal transactions. Even so, he complained that terrorist financiers are “operating openly and notoriously” in Qatar and Kuwait, and he urged the two governments to shut down such activities.
SAUDI ARABIA Since the Sept 11 attacks, staged mainly by Saudi-born hijackers, and a series of attacks by Al Qaeda and ISIS against the kingdom, Saudi Arabia has become more serious about extremism; some experts regard it as the top counterterrorism partner in the region. It has taken a zero-tolerance approach to ISIS and joined the American-led coalition fighting the group. Even so, American government reports say financial support for terrorism from Saudis “remains a threat to the kingdom and the international community.” And while this has been ignored by Mr. Trump, Saudi Arabia undermines whatever good work it does by continuing to spend billions of dollars spreading Wahhabism, its ultraconservative brand of Islam — which in turn inspires ISIS, Al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists — through a network of imams and mosques in countries like Kosovo, Indonesia and Pakistan.
Dependent on the Wahhabi clerics for legitimacy, the royal family has been slow to reform a religion that teaches that nonbelievers and wayward Muslims should…