Hate cleric Al-Qaradawi's tirade 'favours' Israel

By John R Bradley, June 7, 2013
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In Qatar last week, the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual guide, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, thanked Washington for arming the Syrian opposition, urged every able-bodied Sunni Muslim to join the "jihad" there, gave reassurances to Israel and called for the extermination of every Shia and Allawite - tens of millions of people. His rationale? That they are "even more infidel" than the Jews.

With friends like this, do Israel and the US really need enemies? Small wonder that those who continue to support this non-existent popular uprising in Syria were shamed into silence by the outburst. Now they bizarrely stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a man so deranged that even the British political elite was obliged to ban him from entering the country.

His vile call for genocide will come to haunt him and his mentor, the Emir of Qatar, darling of the West and the chief backer of the Muslim Brotherhood. For the Arab masses have not bought into the anti-Shia hysteria. Even Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood promised to continue allowing in Iranian tourists.

Sadly, when it comes to the propaganda war in the Arab world, it all now boils down to who ordinary Sunnis hate more: Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and his Shia Hizbollah group, or Israel and the Jews.

The answer is certainly the latter.It is opposition to Israel that still unites the Arabs. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad understands that. Just days before Mr Al-Qaradawi's rant, he had said that, once the jihadis were beaten, he would try to retake the Golan Heights.

Every poll has shown overwhelming opposition throughout the region to foreign intervention in Syria. Nasrallah, meanwhile, is hugely popular on the Arab street. Mr Al-Qaradawi merely gave ammunition to Hizbollah's argument that the fight to topple Mr Assad is all just one big Zionist conspiracy.

Shia leaders sensibly chose not to rise to the bait but one can imagine how incensed they must be. Indeed, in preparation for a response to potential air strikes, Iran is likely to be making a radical reassessment of its own: to first target Qatar, rather than Israel. While this is nothing to celebrate, Mr Al-Qaradawi may have done Israel an unintended favour.

John R Bradley's latest book is 'After the Arab Spring' (2012)

Last updated: 11:45am, June 7 2013