Qatar’s Ambassador to EU and NATO: education is the cornerstone of stability and the most effective preventive measure against terrorism
Qatar invests 12% of its government spending on education, and has allocated 25% of its foreign aid towards educational programs and initiatives for the benefit of seven million children in 42 countries.

His Excellency Abdulrahman Bin Mohammed Al-Khulaifi, Head of Qatari Mission to EU and NATO, was present on 28th of November in the European Parliament as guest speaker at the debate: “THE GLOBAL TERRORISM INDEX 2017 – WHERE TO?”

Below is His Excellency’s speech at the event organized by Mrs. Ramona Manescu, MEP EPP and Mr. Gilles Pargneaux, MEP S&D, in partnership with the Institute for Economics and Peace and the Global Institute for Cybersecurity Technologies.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak to the European Parliament today.

It is a great honour to address The European People’s Party. I would like to thank the Chair of this debate, Mrs. Ramona Manescu, for the invitation. I would also like, Mrs. Manescu, to express my deep appreciation for the support you have shown my nation in these challenging times. It is in times of difficulty that you come to know your true friends.

The geopolitics of my region of course remain challenging. Tragically, they have also had far reaching consequences around the world.

We are living in a world that has become more complex, and even more volatile. Obviously, the same holds true for the Arabian Gulf.

The scourge of modern-day terrorism has gripped the world, unleashing bloodshed on our streets. Extremists, many of them motivated by warped religious beliefs, have taken thousands of innocent lives. Terrorism continues to threaten Arab, regional and international security.

The Global Terrorism Index tells us that terrorism has the highest impact in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. But we have of course seen this epidemic spread globally, with horrific attacks targeting Europe’s cities and the US, from New York, to London, to Paris and here in Brussels.

Over time, the perpetrators have changed and their tactics evolved, while our understanding of the causes of terrorism and the best ways to address them have lagged behind.

It is for precisely this reason that the work of the Global Terrorism Index is so vitally important. If we do not know our enemy, how can we defeat it?

The Index is of course a tool developed by the Institute for Economics and Peace, and although we talk of a ‘war on terror’, and we use military terms, it is only through establishing peace that we can in fact win.

For its part, Qatar has long believed that the search for peaceful solutions must begin with diplomacy, negotiation and dialogue, rather than seeking to fuel divisions.

It is also vital that we attempt to understand the reasons for radicalisation, violent extremism and terrorism. These evils have their roots in poverty, ignorance, unemployment and marginalisation.

For the last two decades, violent extremism has steadily spread to communities that lack social and political empowerment and economic opportunities. We must eradicate the causes of terrorism by tackling its roots.

Our development-based approach to this task is characterised by three main themes: reconstruction projects, education work and youth employment initiatives. Qatar supports damaged and underprivileged communities in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Darfur, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan among other places.

We help to restore the dignity of these communities and protect them from radicalisation.

We believe that education is the cornerstone of stability and the most effective preventive measure against terrorism. For this reason, Qatar invests

12% of its government spending on education, and has allocated 25% of its foreign aid towards educational programmes and initiatives for the benefit of seven million children in 42 countries.

For example, Qatar has spent over $100 million on education in Syria, under our QUEST initiative – which stands for the “Qatar Upholding Education for Syrians Trust”.

The programme aims to provide education and training to nearly 400,000 Syrian refugees within Syria and neighbouring countries.

Unemployment is one of the core causes of extremism. Qatar supports economic empowerment in order to build youth and community resilience. The Qatar-based organisation Silatech has raised $237 million, creating a network of more than 150 partners and connecting over 300,000 young people in the region to real job opportunities.

The promotion of religious tolerance is also critical in the fight against terrorism. Qatar has hosted several international events on coexistence, and works to spread the culture of dialogue nationally, regionally and internationally.

Behind the scenes, we have led and facilitated a number of major diplomatic mediation efforts regionally in recent years, in order to resolve differences without violent conflict.

Despite all these Qatari efforts to counter terrorism, some neighbouring countries have tried to mislead the international community with baseless allegations against the State of Qatar, claiming that it supports and finances terrorism.

The allegation that Qatar supports terrorism was clearly designed to generate anti-Qatar sentiment in the West. We are grateful that the international community has seen through this for what it is.

We refute all these false allegations, and today I am happy to be able to give you the detail of our counter terrorism work. I cannot emphasise enough how baseless these accusations are, and how committed we are to working with the international community to stamp out the scourge of terrorism.

The Qatari political leadership rejects terrorism and violence in all its forms, whatever its motives and causes. We believe that these criminal acts contradict all moral and humanitarian values and principles. Qatar has shown zero tolerance towards terrorism, its sympathisers, financiers and supporters

For Qatar, the fight against terrorism is our top priority.

As well as the preventative measures I have outlined, we aim to cut terrorists from their financial supply. Qatar has adopted international anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing legislation and protocols. All individuals on UN and US sanctions lists currently in Qatar have been arrested, prosecuted, banned from travelling, had their assets frozen and – in accordance with UN guidelines – been placed under 24/7 surveillance.

Qatar has passed stringent laws to ban the financing of terrorism by private individuals and by so-called “charities”. We work with the US and UK intelligence services, as well as with our regional partners to bring terrorists and their supporters to justice. We also engage with academic institutions, civil society organisations and religious organisations on these issues.

At the international level, Qatar is not only a full partner in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS – Coalition planes take off daily from Al Udeid air base just outside of Doha to target terrorists where ever they are – we are also committed to the international conventions and resolutions adopted by the Security Council and UN General Assembly.

This year, we provided $250,000 for the United Nations Centre for Counter-Terrorism. In July, we signed a counterterrorism Memorandum of Understanding with the US. With this MOU Qatar is going further than any other GCC country in its efforts to combat terrorist financing. Earlier this month, officials from both sides held the first U.S.-Qatar Counterterrorism Dialogue to move forward in our common battle against terrorism.

So we not only support the international community in countering terrorism and violent extremism, we also lead the way in many regards.

Qatar has never undermined the collective security of the region. On the contrary, we have promoted peace and security, as we believe that any threat to the region is a threat to Qatar. That is why when the US requested we host a political office of

Hamas we did so – not because we endorse Hamas, but because we want to see reconciliation and agreement for the people of Gaza.

At the same time, the threat of terrorism is one that requires collective efforts and political commitment from all.

We have seen recently how others in the GCC have put narrow self-interest over working to address shared challenges. Instead, they have chosen to invest their time and resources in smear campaigns and propaganda, making false accusations and creating false demands.

But here is the heart of the matter: we have seen how young people – left without hope for a better future – turn to violence in the name of jihad, and we have watched as the world blames “Islam” for this tragedy. This must stop.

You are of course the most sophisticated of audiences, but I would like to emphasise a point that some people struggle to understand. Islam is not the same as terrorism. I do come across people who equate the two.

We must ensure that we do not fall into this trap, as it paves the way to racism, bigotry and intolerance.

Most fundamentally, we must offer hope to those who turn to Islamic State and their flawed ideas for inspiration.

For too long, extremist movements have offered a false sense of purpose for those who see no hope of a better future.

The problem is not Islam, it is hopelessness. The cause of that hopelessness, too often, is governments that fail to meet the needs of their people.

I know that this message will not be well received in some of our neighbouring capitals. There are serious problems in our region, and silencing Qatar will not solve them.

The answer to our disagreements will never be found in blockades and ultimatums. The answer lies in dialogue and reason. We in Qatar are always open to both. As His Excellency the Foreign Minister of Qatar said just recently whilst in the US to meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “Whenever they are ready to try and engage, they will find us at the table.”

Meanwhile, we will continue to pursue our positive and effective foreign policy and meet our humanitarian and international obligations.

Why are we so determined to do so? Because it is in all our interests to fight terrorism. We must eradicate the forces of Islamic State. We must cut terrorists’ financial supply. We must work to establish stability and peace. But most of all, we must give hope to those people Islamic State would recruit as its foot soldiers. In 2015, there were 1.8 billion Muslims in the world. That is nearly a quarter of the global population. And in the Muslim world, we must stand together to say to terrorists: ‘not in my name’.

Thank you.