Far-right former Trump aide Steve Bannon 'backs' Saudi-led blockade on Qatar

Far-right former Trump aide Steve Bannon 'backs' Saudi-led blockade on Qatar
Breitbart far-right media guru Steve Bannon, who was once a key adviser to Donald Trump, has attacked Qatar in a speech, alluding to it being the Gulf's 'North Korea'.
4 min read
25 October, 2017
Bannon cuts a shadowy image in US politics [Getty]
Former Donald Trump adviser and far-right media mogul Steve Bannon showed his support for the Saudi Arabia led blockade on Qatar during a candid talk at a Washington think tank earlier this week.

Speaking at the politically conservative Hudson Institute in Washington, Bannon backed the aggressive stance taken by Gulf states towards Qatar, saying the US should support the blockade.

Bannon went on to compare the "threat" of the small Gulf emirate to nuclear-armed North Korea, accusing Qatar of backing "terrorism" in the region, including the Islamic State group, while also hinting that the US played a role in build-up to the crisis.

"I think the single most important thing that is happening in the world is the situation in Qatar. What's happening in Qatar is every bit as important as what's happening in North Korea," he said.

US role

Bannon's comment shows a clear alignment with the Saudi camp, as the former Trump aide gushed over the policies of Riyadh's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Breitbart mogul claimed Trump has been a key backer of the prince's Vision 2030 plan and spoke of a strong alliance between the two countries – as well as with Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE who are also part of the Riyadh blockade camp. 

"After the Muslim summit (held in Riyadh last May) it [Qatar] was looked at as a crisis that had to be managed and Qatar had to be held to account for the continual funding of the Muslim Brotherhood, their continual funding of Hamas and their engagement with Iran and quite frankly Turkey," he told former Pakistan Ambassador Husain Haqanni during the talk at the institute.

"I thought the UAE, the Egyptians, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had a well-thought-out plan to stop the funding of radical Islamic terrorism – that has to be cut off 100 percent."

He also counted the countries blockading Qatar as key regional allies and an important part of "Pax Americana".

The four countries led an economic and diplomatic embargo on Qatar in June, accusing Doha of supporting extremist groups and being too close to Iran, 

The bloc issued a list of 12 demands that Qatar had to adhere to in order for the blockade to be lifted.

Among them was that Qatar should close media outlets including Al Jazeera and al-Araby al-Jadeed  which Bannon wrongly referred to in his talk as "al-Araby al-Jihad".

Trump visit

The unprecedented step taken by the GCC countries happened shortly after President Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia (along with Bannon) for an Islamic summit, which led many to believe that the US president knew about, and backed, the boycott.

"We went into the summit with the UAE and others and said we must take care of the financing of radical Islam and others and there could be no more, as President Trump said, there can be no more games. You can't have it both ways," Bannon claimed.

"You can't on one hand say you are a friend of the US and on the other finance the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas... open to Iran and the mullahs war-like posture to the US."

Trump later showed his support for the Saudi-led alliance's action on Twitter, as State Department staff desperately tried to patch up the rift between the US Gulf allies.

Saudi Arabia and the US also signed a lucrative multi-billion arms contract during the visit.

Earlier this week, McClatchy said that the UAE had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars into the account of a company allegedly linked to Bannon, to pursue an anti-Qatar social media campaign.

Bannon denied being connected to the company during his DC talk.

Bannon was a close adviser to the US president and viewed as key to Trump's unlikely election win against Democrat rival Hillary Clinton during the race for the presidency, in part due to his links with far-right media.

Breitbart – which Bannon headed – has been accused of racism, Islamophobia and extreme right views with stories on the site often victimising Muslims.

Bannon left his role in the White House in August and headed back to Breitbart. The former navy officer also praised Trump's handling of the campaign against IS which Bannon said had led to the "annihilation" of its self-declared caliphate.

Last week, the group's self-declared Syria capital Raqqa fell, after a bloody campaign against IS by Kurdish forces, with a US air bombing campaign leading to the near complete destruction of the city.