Qatar, Trump & Dou­ble Games – Part 1

Qatar’s role in un­der­min­ing the sta­bil­ity of the Is­lamic world has been sec­ond only to Iran’s

The Jewish Voice - - OP- ED - By: Caro­line Glick

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has been at­tacked by his ubiq­ui­tous crit­ics for his ap­par­ent about-face on the cri­sis sur­round­ing Qatar. In a Twit­ter post on Tues­day, Trump sided fi mly with Saudi Ara­bia, Egypt, the United Arab Emi­rates and the other Sunni states that cut diplo­matic ties with Qatar and in­sti­tuted an air and land block­ade of the sheikhdom on Mon­day.

On Wed­nes­day, Trump said that he hopes to me­di­ate the dis­pute, more or less par­rot­ing the lines adopted by the State De­part­ment and the Pen­tagon which his Twit­ter posts dis­puted the day be­fore.

To un­der­stand the ap­par­ent turn­around and why it is both un­der­stand­able and prob­a­bly not an about-face, it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand the forces at play and the stakes in­volved in the Sunni Arab world’s show­down with Doha.

Ar­guably, Qatar’s role in un­der­min­ing the sta­bil­ity of the Is­lamic world has been sec­ond only to Iran’s.

Be­gin­ning in the 1995, af­ter the Pars gas field was dis­cov­ered and quickly ren­dered Qatar the wealth­i­est state in the world, the Qatari regime set about un­der­min­ing the Sunni regimes of the Arab world by among other things, wag­ing a pro­pa­ganda war against them and against their US ally and by mas­sively fund­ing ter­ror­ism.

The Qatari regime es­tab­lished Al Jazeera in 1996.

De­spite its fre­quent de­nials, the regime has kept tight con­trol on Al Jazeera’s mes­sag­ing. That mes­sag­ing has been un­chang­ing since the net­work’s found­ing. The pan-Arab satel­lite sta­tion which reaches hun­dreds of mil­lions of house­holds in the re­gion and world­wide, op­poses the US’s al­lies in the Sunni Arab world. It sup­ports the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and ev­ery ter­ror­ist group spawned by it. It sup­ports Iran and Hezbol­lah.

Al Jazeera is vi­ciously anti-Is­rael and anti-Jewish.

It serves as a pro­pa­ganda arm not only of al-Qaida and Hezbol­lah but of Ha­mas, Is­lamic Ji­had and any other group that at­tacks the US, Is­rael, Europe and other Western tar­gets.

Al Jazeera’s re­porters have ac­com­pa­nied Ha­mas and Tal­iban forces in their wars against Is­rael and the US. Af­ter Is­rael re­leased Hezbol­lah arch-ter­ror­ist Samir Kun­tar from prison in ex­change for the bod­ies of two IDF re­servists, Al Jazeera’s Beirut bureau hosted an on-air party in his honor.

Al Jazeera was at the fore­front of the pro­pa­ganda cam­paign in­cit­ing against then-Egyp­tian pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and against Libyan leader Muam­mar Gaddafi in 2012. Its op­er­a­tions were widely cred­ited with in­cit­ing their over­throw and in­stalling in their places regimes con­trolled by the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and other ji­hadist groups.

As for the regime it­self, it has mas­sively fin nced ji­hadist groups for more than 20 years. Qatar is a ma­jor bankroller not only of al-Qaida and Ha­mas but of mili­tias as­so­ci­ated with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. In a State De­part­ment cable from 2009 pub­lished by Wik­iLeaks, US diplo­mats re­ferred to Qatar as the largest fun­der of ter­ror­ism in the world.

Ac­cord­ing to the Fi­nan­cial Times, the straw that broke the camel’s back for the Saudis and their al­lies was their discovery that in April, Qatar paid Iran, its Iraqi mili­tias and al-Qaida forces in Syria up to a bil­lion dol­lars to free mem­bers of the royal fam­ily held cap­tive in south­ern Iraq and 50 ter­ror­ists held cap­tive in Syria.

Given Qatar’s desta­bi­liz­ing and per­ni­cious role in the re­gion and world­wide in every­thing re­lated to ter­ror­ism fund­ing and in­cite­ment, Trump’s state­ment on Tues­day in sup­port of the Sun­nis against Qatar was en­tirely rea­son­able. What can the US do other than stand by its al­lies as they seek to co­erce Qatar to end its desta­bi­liz­ing and dan­ger­ous prac­tices? The case for sup­port­ing the Saudis, Egyp­tians, the UAE and the oth­ers against Qatar be­comes all the more over­whelm­ing given their de­mands.

The Sun­nis are de­mand­ing that Qatar ditch its strate­gic al­liance with Iran. Th y de­mand that Qatar end its fi­nan­cial sup­port for ter­ror­ist groups and they de­mand that Qatar ex­pel ter­ror­ists from its ter­ri­tory.

If Qatar is forced to abide by th­ese de­mands, its aban­don­ment of Iran in par­tic­u­lar will con­sti­tute the sin­gle largest blow the regime in Tehran has ab­sorbed in re­cent mem­ory. Among other things, Qatar serves as Iran’s banker and diplo­matic proxy.

If the story be­gan and ended here, then Trump’s anti-Qatari stance would have been the ob­vi­ous and only move. Be­yond be­ing the right thing to do, if Qatar’s regime is over­thrown or emas­cu­lated, the de­vel­op­ment would mark the most sig­nific nt achieve­ment to date against the Ira­nian axis of ji­had.

Un­for­tu­nately, the sit­u­a­tion is not at all sim­ple.

First there is the prob­lem of Doha’s re­la­tions with key Amer­i­cans and Amer­i­can in­sti­tu­tions.

Ahead of the 2016 US elec­tions, Wik­iLeaks pub­lished doc­u­ments which dis­closed that the emir of Qatar pre­sented Bill Clin­ton with a $1 mil­lion check for the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion as a gift for his 65th birth­day. Dur­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton’s ten­ure as sec­re­tary of state, Qatar re­port­edly con­trib­uted some $6m. to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion.

Clin­ton, for her part, was deeply sup­port­ive of the regime and of Al Jazeera. For in­stance, in tes­ti­mony be­fore the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee in 2011, Clin­ton praised Al Jazeera for its lead­ing role in fo­ment­ing and ex­pand­ing the protests in Egypt that brought down Mubarak.

Clin­ton wasn’t the only one that Qatar sin­gled out for gen­eros­ity. Since the 1990s, Qatar has in­vested hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in US univer­si­ties. Six ma­jor US univer­si­ties have cam­puses in Doha.

Qatar is a ma­jor bankroller not only of alQaida and Ha­mas but of mili­tias as­so­ci­ated with ISIS in Iraq and Syria

Then there is the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion. The pre­mier US think tank had a re­volv­ing door re­la­tion­ship with the Obama and Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tions.

In 2014, The New York Times re­ported that Brook­ings, which opened a branch in Doha in 2002, had re­ceived mil­lions of dol­lars in con­tri­bu­tions from Qatar. In 2013 alone, the Qatari regime con­trib­uted $14.8 mil­lion to Brook­ings.

Not sur­pris­ingly, Brook­ings’ schol­ars sup­ported the over­throw of Mubarak, and sup­ported the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood regime dur­ing its year in power. Brook­ings schol­ars urged the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to cut off mil­i­tary as­sis­tance to Egypt af­ter the mil­i­tary over­threw the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in 2013.

Brook­ings schol­ars have sim­i­larly writ­ten sym­pa­thet­i­cally of Qatar and its ally Turkey. As the In­ves­tiga­tive Project on Ter­ror­ism re­vealed in a four-part se­ries on Brook­ings’ re­la­tions with Qatar in 2014, Brook­ings’ schol­ars ig­nored hu­man rights abuses by Qatar and praised Turkey’s Er­do­gan regime as be­hav­ing like the US in en­abling reli­gion to have a role in pub­lic life. (FRONT PAGE MAG)

Orig­i­nally pub­lished in the Jerusalem Post

Ar­guably, Qatar’s role in un­der­min­ing the sta­bil­ity of the Is­lamic world has been sec­ond only to Iran’s.

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