Why is Qatar stirring trouble?

Qatar’s ruler has sold his brothers down the river and, if he imagines that America will stand beside him once it gets what it wants, he is in for a shock

Why is Qatar stirring trouble?

Qatar and terrorism

I ASKED my followers on Twitter: Why is Qatar playing the troublemaker in our region? Most respondents thought it was a psychological issue. I agree. Qatari leaders are too much aware of their small size. The total number of Qataris is around 300,000, including thousand of nationalized foreigners. They live in a tiny desert Peninsula of 11,581 km2 (4,471 sq mi). Still, the city-state has the world’s third-largest natural-gas reserves. With so much riches, but so limited capacity, one might vie for a higher positioning in regional and world politics.

We have witnessed similar cases. Former president of Uganda, Idi Amin, managed to occupy headlines for many years with his childish, but dangerous behavior. Other reckless personalities include Mobutu Sese Seko, Zaire, Muammar Qaddafi, Libya, Hugo Chávez, Venezuela, Fidel Castro, Cuba, and Kim Jong-un, North Korea.

All of those wannabe” leaders felt trapped in their own size. In the past, it was possible to overcome limitations and expand beyond one’s border, like Alexander the Great did. After the World War II, the world decided to end the trend. The United Nations was founded on the premise that there will be no more empire building. Those who ventured beyond internationally recognized borders, like Saddam Hussein did by invading and occupying a UN member state, Kuwait, were severely punished.

However, the New World Order doesn’t prevent hegemony by using soft power in economic, cultural and technological fields. America in post-WWII, managed to expand its global influence, by holding unrivaled control over information, entertainment, media and communication networks, as well as its scientific, military and industrial capabilities. Such superiority helped in building strong alliances, and deploying military forces, bases and fleets, in addition to having strong presence in international organizations and events. It also helped in spreading popular culture, marketing US products and winning hearts and minds.

On the other hand, countries with less potential and great ambitions, such as Russia, Iran, Turkey, and (to less extent) North Korea and Qatar, has been trying to maximize the effect of their tools of power and influence.

Qatar is aware of its limited geographic, demographic and political potential. Therefore, it has become too dependent on alliances. To overcome the conflicts and contradictions among its allies, it learned to play the odds and dance over the heads of beasts.

It is a tough game to befriend Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Iran as well as the US, Gulf states and Israel. And since Qatar doesn’t have experienced leaders, well-trained operatives and other human resources, it had to utilize the experience, prestige and networks of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as the Islamists’ nemeses — the Arab nationalists, leftists and liberals — all at once.

Qatar and terror support

When the so-called Arab Spring erupted, Qatar and its allies were there first to lead the masses. They made the most use of Al-Jazeera network, Qatari riyals, the Brothers’ organization skills, and Turkey’s political might to jump on the driver seat and lead these nations. The Obama administration supported the scheme on the promise that the new Arab world would be more democratic, religiously tolerant, and friendly with Iran and Israel.

At a certain time, the schemers seemed to have won. Brotherhood parties and affiliates had managed to lead Tunisia, Libya, Morocco and, most importantly, mighty Egypt. They figured strongly in the parliaments of Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan and Syria. Turkey and Qatar seemed on the verge of declaring a new Sunni Caliphate — if it wasn’t for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against Obama’s strong protests and drawn redlines.

The domino effect was reversed by brining down the Brotherhood rule in Egypt. The rest was easy. Then the game-changer President Donald Trump came along with his new agenda of supporting US traditional allies against Iran and jihadists. Qatar had to choose between living in their fantasy and facing reality. Unfortunately, they chose wrong!

The great dream has ended and the dreamers still haven’t woken up. Qatar and company still maneuver, scheme, stall and hope against all odds that sometime, somehow, the winds would go their way. Now that the Arab Alliance is thwarting every attempt to end the boycott against them, there isn’t much time left to give up the evil project and cut off with the evil company. The more they wait, the less their chances of reconciliation. The clock is ticking … is anyone listening in Doha?

Source: by Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi, The Saudi Gazette, February 13, 2018
© 2018, The Saudi Gazette, All rights Reserved.

US will prove to be no friend of Qatar’s

Qatar-Saudi conflict

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger spoke the truth when he said: America has no permanent friends, only interests.” The fact that the Trump administration is prepared to overlook Qatar’s terrorist ties to gain financial and military benefits lends credence to that wily veteran politician’s admission.

Just seven months ago, following US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, his very first foreign trip in office, he attacked Doha for being a haven for terrorism and the terrorists’ chief financier. He later boasted that he had encouraged the Kingdom and its allies to distance themselves from their former brotherly neighbor gone rogue.

It is known that I had my doubts about Trump’s character and fitness for the job of president when he was a candidate, but I hoped he would not renege on his promises like his predecessor Barack Obama, who cuddled Iran while disparaging Gulf states.

Once elected, we believed we had a reliable partner. Trump’s visit was considered a sign of respect for the historic alliance between Saudi Arabia and the United States. We were wrong. It was nothing but a media photo opportunity without substance, meant to pacify the Arab world, which was pushed aside by Obama in the aftermath of his nuclear deal with the devil.

The Saudi-led alliance that includes the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt was prepared to re-embrace Qatar on condition it agreed to implement 13 demands. The list included the severance of Doha’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, Daesh and Hezbollah; the closure of its propagandist media outlets; the curbing of diplomatic ties with Iran; and ending Turkey’s military presence on Qatari soil.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani played the innocent and pretended he was willing to talk about all the issues of contention. However, rather than show goodwill, he has exacerbated the fallout by strengthening his country’s relationship with Tehran and permitting Turkey to deploy air and naval forces, in addition to ground troops.

Logically one might expect that the US government would frown upon the emir’s fraternization with Iran, the world’s biggest sponsor of terrorism, and might not be too pleased about a burgeoning Turkish military presence so close to where US Central Command has its forward headquarters — which hosts 11,000 US and coalition troops — especially given that the relationship between Washington and Ankara is allegedly rocky.

In reality, neither logic nor principles play any part in the shifting sands of Trump’s stance, which has dramatically warmed in favor of Qatar, despite Doha denying clear evidence concerning Iran’s efforts to destabilize the region. It is also, according to reports, mulling the use of an Iranian island to host teams competing in the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Perhaps Qatar’s sweetener in the form of the purchase of US fighter jets worth $12bn sealed shortly after Trump’s public criticisms was very persuasive.

To quote Gardiner Harris, writing in The New York Times a few days ago: With a mix of lobbying, potential investment and pledged support for the United States military, Qatar’s charm offensive with the Trump administration appears to have paid off.” The writer cites Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent effusive praise of Qatar as a strong partner and long-time friend,” a sentiment echoed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Tillerson has always displayed a pro-Qatar tilt, going so far as to blame Riyadh for the continuing rift. Most recently he urged all sides to bring an end to the dispute, ostensibly to counter the spread of Iran’s malign influence.” And notwithstanding that Tehran is Doha’s new best friend, he insisted that Qatar has made significant progress to improve efforts to combat terrorism.” It is worth noting that Tillerson’s relationship with Qatar stretches back to his Exxon Mobil days, when he described Qatar as a model for other resource-rich nations.

For a while, Tillerson and Trump were at odds over Qatar, but the Secretary of State’s view has prevailed. Last month, Trump thanked the emir for his actions to counter terrorism and extremism in all forms” without detailing what form those actions had taken.

Qatar has wielded its dollars like a weapon and that is a language guaranteed to woo Trump’s avaricious mind. It has pledged massive future investments in the US: In 2015, Qatar’s Sovereign Fund earmarked $45bn for investment in US infrastructure.

Qatar not only wants to make the Al-Udeid airbase a permanent fixture, it is also intent on expanding the US base to include gated communities for families, entertainment centers and other facilities geared toward the comfort of American troops stationed there. How kind of the emir to be so concerned about the well-being of foreign military personnel. Some might call this open bribery; if so, the favour is returned.

Under pressure, Qatar has agreed to abide by the Open Skies agreement with the US. Its subsidies to Qatar Airways, which American airlines have complained constitute unfair competition, will now be disclosed.

Besides lobbying US lawmakers and important think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, senior Qatari officials have also been cosying up to American Jewish community leaders with invitations to visit Doha. The Jerusalem Post revealed that Rabbi Menachem Genack, who heads the Orthodox Union’s Kosher Division, took the bait and flew to Doha for meetings.

Qatar has hired seven lobbying firms in the United States in a bid to rebrand its image, including one owned by an Orthodox Jew. Seemingly the emir believes that, if he can pull influential American Jews into his corner, he will win the game.

Israel, which has railed against Qatar’s hospitality for the leadership of Hamas and its closeness to Iran, is unimpressed. And no wonder, especially when Doha hosts the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf Al-Qaradawi in style — a man who has claimed God used Adolf Hitler to wreak the Holocaust on the Jews as a divine punishment. Israel’s embassy to the United States does not support Qatar’s campaign to improve its image in the American Jewish and pro-Israel community,” an embassy spokesperson told Haaretz.

Trump may be willing to tango with Sheikh Tamim at the expense of America’s tried and trusted friends but on no account should we be intimidated to fall into line. Qatar’s ruler has sold his brothers down the river and, if he imagines that America will stand beside him once it gets what it wants, he is in for a shock.

Source: by Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor, Arab News, February 13,  2018
© 2018, Arab News, All rights Reserved.


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