Archive for the ‘Qatar and Israel’s enemies’ category

Saudi-led bloc drops the list of 13 demands; now calls for six principles

July 20, 2017

Saudi-led bloc drops the list of 13 demands; now calls for six principles, World Affairs Journal, July 19, 2017

(Round and round it goes; where it stops nobody knows. — DM)

Doha skyline

The Peninsula / AP

UNITED NATIONS: Four Arab nations that are blockading Qatar have dropped their list of 13 demands to lift the siege.

Now the Saudi-led countries are urging Qatar to commit to six principles on combatting extremism and negotiate a plan to implement them.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain broke relations with Qatar in early June largely over their allegations that it supports extremist groups — a charge Qatar rejects. They initially made 13 demands, which Qatar said are “unrealistic and is not actionable”.

Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi told a briefing for a group of UN correspondents that the four nations are now committed to the six principles agreed to by their foreign ministers at a meeting in Cairo on July 5.

According to Al Jazeera the six principles are:

Commitment to combat extremism and terrorism in all their forms and to prevent their financing or providing havens.

Suspending all acts of provocation and speeches inciting hatred or violence.

Full compliance with the Riyadh Agreement of 2013 and the supplementary agreement and its implementation mechanisms of 2014 within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Adherence to all the outcomes of the Arab Islamic American Summit held in May 2017 in Riyadh.

Refraining from interfering in the internal affairs of states and from supporting illegal entities.

The responsibility of all states of the international community to confront all forms of extremism and terrorism as a threat to international peace and security.

Al-Mouallimi said both sides can talk about details of “the tactics” and “the tools” to implement them — “and that’s where we can have discussion and compromise.”

The list of first 13 demands handed to Qatar on 22 June included shutting down the Al Jazeera news network, closing a Turkish military base, cutting ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and downgrading relations with Iran.

Al-Mouallimi said closing Al-Jazeera might not be necessary.

“If we can achieve that (the principles) without closing down Al-Jazeera, that’s also fine. The important thing is the objective and the principle involved.”

UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem Al Hashimy said all the countries involved have strong relations with the United States “and we believe that the Americans have a very constructive and a very important role to play in hopefully creating a peaceful resolution to this current crisis.”

“We hope to be able to resolve this internally and among ourselves with the assistance of strong mediation, whether it’s from the U.S. or the Kuwaitis,” she said.

Diplomats from the four countries who attended the briefing said there have been discussions about possible next steps.

UAE Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh said that “if Qatar is unwilling to accept core principles around what defines terrorism or extremism in our region, it will be very difficult” for it to remain in the Gulf Cooperation Council with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

“So it may be a parting of ways for a little while in order to work things out,” she said.

OPINION: Is the US Secretary of State on Qatar’s side?

July 12, 2017

OPINION: Is the US Secretary of State on Qatar’s side? Al ArabiyaAbdulrahman al-Rashed, July 12, 2017

(Al Arabiya is a Saudi site, but I too have occasionally wondered whose side Secretary Tillerson is on. — DM)

Qatar’s foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (R) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson following a joint news conference in Doha, Qatar, July 11, 2017. REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTX3B2A2

The four boycotting countries are not the only ones that want to deter Qatar as most of the region’s countries and other countries support this goal and believe Doha is responsible for chaos, extremism and terrorism. The US secretary of state can save Qatar from itself before it suffers the consequences of its malicious actions.

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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will meet the angry foreign ministers of the four countries which boycotted Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, in Jeddah on Wednesday. He will be confronting governments that made up their minds as they believe Doha is behind the dangerous unrest. We do not expect these countries to retreat after they made promises and took public measures to hold Doha’s authorities accountable by boycotting them.

Statements and hints made by Tillerson at the press conference in Doha do not reflect optimism as he rather simplified the problem by summing up the solution with signing an agreement in which Doha’s government pledges to fight terrorism. What an accomplishment!

Manipulation

The Qataris tried to manipulate him by confusing the real reasons behind the dispute and protesting over formal points such as revealing the secrets of their commitments in the Riyadh agreement and its annexes. They were embarrassed after they were leaked to CNN because this exposed that everything Qatar said in the international media contradicted its secret commitments. Qatar is of course to blame because it’s the one which began this war of leaks when it revealed the secrets of the four governments’ message pertaining to the Kuwaiti mediation that included 13 demands. Qatar revealed these secrets out of its desire to embarrass these four governments.

What makes Jeddah’s meeting difficult today is that Tillerson seemed inclined to Qatar. What increased suspicions is how he rushed to concluding that Qatar’s demands are reasonable before he even listened to the other involved parties. This raised eyebrows! The secretary of state can be inclined to the Qatari position, if he wants to, but he must realize that this complicates the problem, which is already complicated, and prolongs the crisis. The four boycotting countries have been harmed on the financial, political, media and security levels due to Qatar’s activities and practices, and they have made up their minds especially after recent developments that they think directly target their regimes.

Tillerson cannot impose a reconciliation. However he can narrow distances among the different parties as they are all his allies instead of being biased to one party against another, especially that Qatar is the one which made pledges several times but violated them.

Refusing to change

Tensions will rise as long as Doha’s authorities refuse to change. We know how Doha thinks and deceives others and we’re aware that it does not intend to change amid ordinary circumstances. The four boycotting countries will not back down because they believe they’re defending their existence in a region dominated by chaos, and it does not make sense to fight Iran while letting Qatar’s government threatens their existence and backstabs them. The crisis has clear goals which are deterring Qatar and eliminating its project of change. These four countries will jeopardize their existence and stability if they do not meet these goals. Egypt is launching the biggest war against terrorism in its modern history and it views Qatar as an efficient party which through its secret funding and propaganda via its media channels justifies these terrorist groups’ actions and incites people to rebel against the regime. Saudi Arabia is confronting similar threats and Qatar’s involvement has been proven. The UAE shares the same stance and it addressed this at early stages when it adopted policies that have zero tolerance with extremist groups and their ideology. Bahrain suffered more and it was all due to Qatar. How can Tillerson convince the four countries which are fighting survival wars to reconcile with the responsible party? How long will intentions be tested after Qatar failed so many times?

The four boycotting countries are not the only ones that want to deter Qatar as most of the region’s countries and other countries support this goal and believe Doha is responsible for chaos, extremism and terrorism. The US secretary of state can save Qatar from itself before it suffers the consequences of its malicious actions.

Articles In Gulf Press: The Escalation In Gaza – A Result Of Qatar, Iran, Turkey Toying With Lives Of Innocent Palestinians

June 28, 2017

Articles In Gulf Press: The Escalation In Gaza – A Result Of Qatar, Iran, Turkey Toying With Lives Of Innocent Palestinians, MEMRI, June 28, 2017

Following the June 27, 2017 Israeli airstrikes in Gaza in response to the firing of a rocket from Gaza into Israel, articles in the Gulf press attacked Hamas and the countries that support it: Qatar, Iran and Turkey. The articles – published against the backdrop of the inter-Gulf tension and the Boycott imposed on Qatar, chiefly by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt – blamed Hamas of the firing of the rocket into Israel, and claimed that it was escalating the situation in Gaza on purpose in order to serve the interests of its three patron countries. These countries, said the articles, place innocent Palestinians in danger in order to divert global attention away from the Gulf crisis. 

The following are excerpts from two articles on this topic:   

‘Al-Ittihad’ Editorial: Qatar, Iran, Turkey Use Gaza As Bargaining Chip, Toying With The Lives Of Its Innocent People

Muhammad Al-Hamadi, editor of the UAE daily Al-Ittihad, wrote: “On June 27, without any warning, the Arabs woke up to discover that Gaza had been bombarded. Why? What has happened that we don’t know about? What did the Gazan Palestinians do to find themselves under Israeli fire? Has a third intifada broken out? Has the battle for the liberation of Jerusalem begun?

“In practice, none [of the above] happened. All [that happened was] that those who trade in the Palestinian problem, who are themselves in trouble, remembered an old bargaining chip that they have long been using successfully, [and decided] to use it in the dire circumstances that have befallen their friend Qatar, which serves as their open bank [account]. They thought that [using this bargaining chip] would be a good way to divert the Arabs’ attention away from Qatar and focus it [instead] on Gaza and its residents who are being bombarded with missiles by the Israeli enemy.

“This conduct of Qatar and its allies, in Palestine and elsewhere, is despicable. How disgraceful it is that some are willing to toy with the lives of innocents and with the future of small children in Gaza in order to achieve political aims. For a long time now, some [elements] – chiefly Iran, Qatar and Turkey – have been toying with the Palestinian cause and they were successful, but the cost was high: hundreds and even thousands of innocent Palestinians who have been martyred or wounded and crippled. What was the [Palestinian’s] reward? The reward was a donation drive among Arab and Muslim countries that raised millions. [But only] a handful of riyals and dinars was handed out to the disaster-stricken Palestinians. It is always the case that the [Gazan] people get crumbs, while the rest goes to the loyal partner, Hamas.

“We have said from the beginning of the boycott of Qatar that the game is over, but Qatar apparently isn’t listening. Continuing this transparently [wicked] behavior will no longer avail [it], because the peoples are no longer fooled. If in the past they trusted the propaganda of the ideologically recruited Al-Jazeera channel, which serves certain goals, today the peoples no longer watch Al-Jazeera and are no longer influenced by it and by other Arab or foreign channels. Information has become very accessible, and [cyber]space has opened up in [this] era of new media. Nobody has a monopoly on the facts, and it is no longer possible to deceive the peoples. That is what the Palestinian people discovered on July 27. It discovered that there are those who want to exploit it and drag it into a new confrontation with the Israeli enemy, while those who plan [the confrontation] stay in five-star hotels in Doha and Istanbul and in other capitals that shelter the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and of terror.

“Our friends in Gaza informed us that the [Gaza] Strip was not bombarded and that only two Israeli missiles were fired in response to the rocket fired from Gaza into Israel. Everyone knows that Qatar is the one that is ‘bombarded’ and boycotted. Who gains from the firing of the rocket and from the situation in which Gaza is bombarded?”[i]

Saudi Columnist: Qatar, Iran Sponsor Hamas, Which Uses Gazans As Human Shields

Hani Al-Zahiri wrote in the Saudi ‘Okaz daily: “It has been centuries since our region has seen a political gamble as terrible as the Iranian and Qatari regimes’ [current] gamble with the lives and the cause of the Palestinians. These two [regimes] adopted the Muslim Brotherhood’s Hamas organization, and supported it by every means when it staged an uprising against the legal Palestinian leadership [the PA] and took over Gaza, and then turned the innocent residents [of Gaza] into a human shield for the Hamas leadership.

“The state of the Gaza Strip in the face of the Israeli bombardments, which usually come in direct response to Hamas actions, reminds us of  [a situation in which] a man kidnaps a girl and then provokes [the soldiers in] a military base to open fire on him and uses the girl as a human shield. The kidnapper in this case is Hamas and the girl is Gaza and its helpless people. The portly Hamas leaders meet in Doha and Tehran, laugh around tables laden with delicacies and order their young [fighters] to open the gates of Hell to the Palestinians by [shooting] firecrackers – which they call ‘rockets’ – at Israeli [army] posts, so that Gaza will be bombarded and women, children and the elderly will die. Then Hamas [officials] will come out, condemn this on satellite channels, and demand support and funds to rescue the Palestinian people, before going back to their feast, safe and sound. In the meantime the entire world will watch the suffering of an unarmed people that has no means to defend itself.

“Everything that has happened to the Palestinians since Hamas took over them indicates that their second enemy, after Israel, is Qatar and Iran, which are using a tinderbox named Hamas to burn them in order to achieve purely political aims… The question now is why, on the day before yesterday [June 26], Qatar and its allies prompted Hamas to fire on Israeli positions, thus inviting Israel to respond by bombarding Gaza. The answer is clearly that this was a despicable attempt and a new political gamble by the Qatari regime, aimed at easing the noose of the Gulf boycott [of Qatar, a boycott] which prompted calls to sue [this regime] in the international [court] for the black [crime] of supporting terror. Today [Qatar] desperately needs to divert the world’s attention in another direction, even at the expense of the life and blood of a defenseless people… The Qataris and Iranians will exploit the event to utter phrases of pretended sympathy for the Palestinians, but only the people in Gaza know that they are the victims of this pair of plotters [Qatar and Iran].”[ii]

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[i] Al-Ittihad (UAE), June 28, 2017.

[ii] ‘Okaz (Saudi Arabia), June 28, 2017.

Qatar’s neighbors issue steep list of demands to end crisis

June 23, 2017

Qatar’s neighbors issue steep list of demands to end crisis, Israel Hayom, Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff, June 23, 2017

(Please see also, BREAKING: Gulf States Give Qatar List of Demands To Restore Diplomatic Relationships – All Demands Target The Muslim Brotherhood. — DM)

Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani | Photo credit: Reuters

Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that have cut ties to Qatar issued a steep list of demands Thursday to end the crisis, insisting that their Persian Gulf neighbor shutter Al Jazeera, cut back diplomatic ties to Iran and close down a Turkish military base in Qatar.

In a 13-point list — presented to the Qataris by Kuwait, which is helping mediate the crisis — the countries also demand that Qatar sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and with other groups including Hezbollah, al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut ties to Qatar this month over allegations the Persian Gulf country funds terrorism — an accusation that U.S. President Donald Trump has echoed. Those countries have now given Qatar 10 days to comply with all of the demands, which include paying an unspecified sum in compensation.

According to the list, Qatar must refuse to naturalize citizens from the four countries and expel those currently in Qatar, in what the countries describe as an effort to keep Qatar from meddling in their internal affairs.

They are also demanding that Qatar hand over all individuals who are wanted by those four countries for terrorism; stop funding any extremist entities that are designated as terrorist groups by the U.S.; and provide detailed information about opposition figures that Qatar has funded, ostensibly in Saudi Arabia and the other nations.

Qatar’s government did not have any immediate reaction to the list. Nor did the United States. Earlier this week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had insisted that Qatar’s neighbors provide a list of demands that was “reasonable and actionable.”

Though Qatar’s neighbors have focused their grievances on alleged Qatari support for extremism, they have also voiced loud concerns about Qatar’s relationship with Iran, the Shiite-led country that is a regional foe for Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-led nations.

The Iran provisions in the document say Qatar must shut down diplomatic posts in Iran, kick out from Qatar any members of the Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, and only conduct trade and commerce with Iran that complies with U.S. sanctions. Under the 2015 nuclear deal, nuclear-related sanctions on Iran were eased but other sanctions remain in place.

The demands regarding Al Jazeera, the Doha-based satellite broadcaster, state that Qatar must also shut down all affiliates. That presumably would mean Qatar would have to close down Al Jazeera’s English-language affiliate. Qatar’s neighbors accuse Al Jazeera of fomenting unrest in the region and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

If Qatar agrees to comply, the list asserts that it will be audited once a month for the first year, and then once per quarter in the second year after it takes effect. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.

Qatar’s Comeuppance

June 15, 2017

Qatar’s Comeuppance, Gatestone InstituteRuthie Blum, June 15, 2017

Ironically, pressure from this new anti-Iran Muslim bloc in the Middle East has done more to call the world’s attention to Qatar’s key role in the spread of Islamist terrorism than years of cajoling on the part of previous administrations in Washington to get Doha to live up to its signed commitments.

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Putting Doha on the Well-Deserved Defensive

Qatar’s extensive ties to terrorism and abetting of financiers to bolster it are well-documented.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain issued a statement designating 59 individuals and 12 organizations as having terror ties to Qatar. According to the statement, Doha “announces fighting terrorism on one hand and finances and supports and hosts different terrorist organizations on the other hand,” and harbors “terrorist and sectarian groups that aim to destabilize the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Daesh [ISIS] and Al Qaeda.”

Ironically, pressure from this new anti-Iran Muslim bloc in the Middle East has done more to call the world’s attention to Qatar’s key role in the spread of Islamist terrorism than years of cajoling on the part of previous administrations in Washington to get Doha to live up to its signed commitments.

A mere two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump delivered his first major foreign policy speech in Riyadh to delegates from dozens Muslim/Arab countries, Bahrain announced on June 5 that it was halting all flights to Qatar for being a sponsor of radical Islamist terrorists. Immediately, Saudi Arabia joined the boycott, as did the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Yemen, all of which also shut off access to Al Jazeera, the anti-American, anti-Semitic Qatari television network established in 1996 and operating since then to foment unrest across the Middle East and bolster the terrorist organization the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoot, Hamas.

The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and other officials in Doha fiercely denied the charge that their government has been backing terrorism, blaming a “fake news” report on the website of the state-controlled Qatar News Agency for the eruption of the Gulf crisis.

The report, which the FBI and other U.S. security agencies believe was the result of a Russian hacking attack, quoted Al Thani calling Iran an “Islamic power,” referring to Hamas as “the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” and saying Qatar’s relations with Israel were “good.”

Although the report did turn out to be a hoax, Qatar’s extensive ties to terrorism and abetting of financiers to bolster it are well-documented. A Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) study, titled “Qatar and Terror Finance: Private Funders of al-Qaeda in Syria,” shows that while Doha has pretended for more than a decade to be partnering with the United States to defeat Al Qaeda, the monarchy, in fact, has taken no action whatsoever against the Qatari financiers of the terrorist organization’s Syrian branch, the Nusra Front, which continues to plot attacks against the West. One of the reasons that this group eluded U.S. strikes operating in Syria was that it, like America, has been fighting ISIS. Another was that it changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS or the Front for the Conquest of Syria), in an effort to distance itself from Al Qaeda. This effort was led by Qatar.

According to the FDD study, the second of a three-part document written by David Andrew Weinberg:

“…[I]ntelligence officials from Qatar and other Gulf states met several times with Nusra’s leader [in 2015] to suggest that his group could receive money, arms, and supplies after stepping away from al-Qaeda.”

While the first part of the study, released in 2014, revealed “Doha’s dismal record” during the reign of Emir Hamad Al Thani (the current monarch’s father), this one

“evaluates the publicly available evidence on Qatar’s record since then, focusing primarily on individuals sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2014 and 2015. All of these sanctions were imposed after Qatar agreed in September 2014, as part of a U.S.-led initiative called the Jeddah Communiqué, to bring terror financiers to justice.”

Weinberg concluded that Qatar has done little or nothing to comply. On the contrary, he wrote, “The funders of certain terrorist groups still enjoy legal impunity there. Nusra/JFS appears to be foremost among them.”

It is just as unlikely that a single news item was responsible for the banding together of several Arab states to impose a blockade on Qatar as it is implausible that these states, particularly Saudi Arabia — which itself has backed and spread radical Islamist ideology — are holding Qatar accountable for its ties to global jihad. Equally simplistic is the view, expressed by Trump on Twitter, that the embargo indicated the seriousness with which the above states took his call to “drive out the terrorists and extremists” from their midst.

“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!” Trump tweeted on June 7.

“So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”

This prompted pundits on both sides of the political spectrum to question whether Trump was simply being reckless in his response, or actually announcing a shift in decades of U.S. policy regarding Qatar, home of the Al Udeid Air Base southwest of Doha. Al Udeid is not only America’s largest military base in the Middle East — with some 10,000 troops, but since 2003, it has served as forward headquarters for CENTCOM (the U.S. Central Command), and has been crucial in America’s operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

The following day, Trump was accused of backtracking, when he phoned Al Thani and offered to “help the parties resolve their differences, including through a meeting at the White House if necessary.”

Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick pointed out that this was not a case of Trump reversing his position, but rather of proposing the most reasonable course of action available:

“With the Pentagon dependent on the Qatari base, and with no clear path for unseating the emir through war or coup without risking a much larger and more dangerous conflict, the only clear option is a negotiated resolution.

“Under the circumstances, the best option for the US to openly work towards is to diminish Qatar’s regional profile and financial support for Iran and its terrorist allies and proxies.”

Nevertheless, mixed messages appeared to be emerging from the Trump administration. On June 9, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the blockade was hindering U.S. operations against ISIS. On the same day, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis asserted that the isolation of Qatar so far has had no negative impact on U.S. operations in and out of Al Udeid. “All of our supplies are getting in just fine,” he told reporters. “The Defense Logistics Agency is certainly always looking at contingency plans if they’re needed, but for right now they’re OK.”

On the day that these conflicting claims began to circulate, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain issued a statement designating 59 individuals and 12 organizations as having terror ties to Qatar. According to the statement, Doha “announces fighting terrorism on one hand and finances and supports and hosts different terrorist organizations on the other hand,” and harbors “terrorist and sectarian groups that aim to destabilize the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Daesh [ISIS] and Al Qaeda.”

Bygone days of unity. The leaders of the Gulf states pose with British PM Theresa May at the Gulf Cooperation Council summit, on December 7, 2016 in Manama, Bahrain. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

On June 7 — the day of Trump’s phone call and two days before the release of the Saudi statement — Qatar hired of the law firm of John Ashcroft, former attorney general under President George W. Bush, to help counter terror accusations. This clearly was a calculated move, as Ashcroft had been instrumental in pushing through the post-9/11 “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001,” more commonly known as the Patriot Act.

According to the “Scope of Engagement” of the Ashcroft retainer, its “broad purpose,” for a “flat fee” of $250,000, is to:

“provid[e] the Client with comprehensive strategic advice, legal counsel, support, and representation related to confirming, educating, assessing and reporting the Client’s efforts to combat global terrorism and its support of and compliance with international financial regulations, including compliance with United States Treasury rules and regulations.

“The firm understands the urgency of this matter and need to communicate accurate information to both a broad constituency and certain domestic agencies and leaders…will advance, advocate, represent, and protect the Client’s interests as necessary, including but not limited to the development of comprehensive legal and government affairs strategy, coordination as necessary and in the interest of the Client, assessment of the pending news and certain nations’ claims that adversely impact the Client’s reputation and pose serious risk and consequences.”

Hiring Ashcroft is not the only indication that Qatar is running scared. Another is its leaders’ simultaneous attempt to assuage fears among its populace – reported to have begun “panic-shopping” at supermarkets — and threaten fellow Gulf Cooperation Council countries that they will suffer severe financial consequences as a result of their boycott.

“If we’re going to lose a dollar, they will lose a dollar also,” warned Qatari Finance minister Ali Shareef Al Emadi. Emadi added, “Our reserves and investment funds are more than 250 percent of gross domestic product, so I don’t think there is any reason that people need to be concerned about what’s happening or any speculation on the Qatari riyal.”

In spite of Emadi’s posturing and Doha’s assertion that it is not in cahoots with Iran, Tehran announced that it has begun sending hundreds of tons of food products to Qatar. Oman, too, is transferring goods to Doha. Turkey went a step further, authorizing the dispatch of 3,000-5,000 troops to its military base in Qatar, to assist Al Thani’s regime, should it be jeopardized by the Saudi-led initiative and internal power struggles.

This unfolding of events is creating what Middle East expert Jonathan Speyer called a “clear drawing” of the “lines of confrontation between the two central power blocs in the region…”

As Speyer wrote on June 10:

“The shunting aside of little Qatar… is ultimately only a detail in the larger picture. What is more significant is the re-emergence of an overt alliance of Sunni Arab states under US leadership, following the development of military capabilities in relevant areas, and with the stated intention of challenging the Iranian regional advance and Sunni political Islam.”

Ironically, pressure from this new anti-Iran Muslim bloc in the Middle East has done more to call the world’s attention to Qatar’s key role in the spread of Islamist terrorism than years of cajoling on the part of previous administrations in Washington to get Doha to live up to its signed commitments.

Ruthie Blum is a journalist and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama and the ‘Arab Spring.'”

White House: Middle East Crisis Sparked By Trump’s Demand to End Support for Extremists Groups

June 13, 2017

White House: Middle East Crisis Sparked By Trump’s Demand to End Support for Extremists Groups, Washington Free Beacon, , June 13, 2017

(Please see also, Military crisis in Qatar may spark Gaza outbreak — DM)

US President Donald Trump (R) and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani take part in a bilateral meeting at a hotel in Riyadh on May 21, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A percolating crisis in the Middle East over a top U.S. military ally’s support for extremist terror groups was ignited by President Donald Trump’s demand that U.S. allies in the Arab world end their support for Islamic extremism, according to senior U.S. officials familiar with the situation.

Trump is seeking a more active role in mediating a growing dispute between leading Arab nations and Qatar, a U.S. counterterrorism ally that has long provided financial support to the very terror groups it has vowed to fight.

Trump’s recent trip to the Middle East—where he publicly and privately urged top Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia to crackdown on Islamic extremism—is said to have sparked a regional dispute with Qatar, thrusting the country’s issues with terrorism financing into the spotlight, sources told the Washington Free Beacon.

U.S. officials, both inside and outside the White House, have long avoided the thorny issue of Qatar’s support for terrorism in an effort to preserve military relations with the country, which hosts a major U.S. air base that is a central front in the war against terror.

Trump’s focus on Qatar is said to be part of a larger regional strategy that focuses on strangling financial support for terror organizations that long benefited from Arab governments turning a blind eye to the issue.

Trump’s push to crackdown on this type of behavior—not just in Qatar—is said to have fueled the diplomatic break with Qatar earlier this month, which saw several leading Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia ceasing all diplomatic ties with the energy-rich nation.

U.S. officials and administration insiders who spoke with the Free Beacon about the situation said that Trump is seeking to play an active role in helping to mediate the crisis and shutdown Qatar’s financing of terror groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS.

“Look, last month President Trump visited Riyadh and gave a historic speech challenging America’s Arab friends and partners to do more to combat the violent radicalization that is growing within Islam,” one senior administration official told the Free Beacon.

“And the fact of the matter is that even though Qatar has been an important partner in some areas, they’ve also been a significant source of terrorist financing,” said the official, who would only speak on background when discussing the sensitive diplomatic issue. “What you’re seeing now is a regional response to the president’s challenge, and Qatar is going to have to respond as well.”

Trump’s stance against Islamic extremism and willingness to call out state backers of the movement has forced U.S. officials, particularly those in the Department of Defense, to address an issue that has been downplayed in pursuit of preserving diplomatic relations with Qatar and other Arab nations, sources said.

The hope is this will result in concrete change, which has been elusive in recent years as nations such as Qatar play both sides of the terror issue.

“American policy in the Gulf has been a bipartisan failure for over a decade. For different reasons, both parties found reasons to ignore terror financing coming out of the Gulf,” said one veteran foreign policy official who has been briefed by White House officials on Trump’s Gulf region strategy.

“Even when Obama officials did talk about terror financing, they used it as an excuse to pressure the Saudis and others to cut off legitimate anti-Assad forces,” the source said. “President Trump has been clear to our allies and adversaries that the incoherence has to end. He called on the Arab world to clean house, and what you’re seeing is the beginning of that.”

Trump discussed the issue in Monday remarks at a White House cabinet meeting, where he emphasized that terror-financing issues have became a central focus for the United States.

“One of the big things we did, and your seeing it now with Qatar and all of the things that are actually going on in a very positive fashion, we are stopping the funding of terrorism,” Trump said. “They’re going to stop the funding of terrorism. And it’s not an easy fight, but it’s a fight we’re going to win. You have to starve the beast, and we’re going to starve the beast.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has walked a more diplomatic line of the issue, in a move sources characterized as a “good-cop-bad-cop” ploy.

State Department officials would not comment on Trump’s latest remarks about Qatar, referring a reporter to Tillerson’s public remarks last week.

“Qatar has a history of supporting groups that have spanned the spectrum of political expression, from activism to violence,” Tillerson said. “The emir of Qatar has made progress in halting financial support and expelling terrorist elements from his country, but he must do more and he must do it more quickly.”

Qatar – the end of the road?

June 9, 2017

Qatar – the end of the road? Israel National News, Dr. Mordechai Kedar, June 9, 2017

(Please see also, Qatar, Trump and Double Games. — DM)

The Emirate of Qatar is a peninsula that juts out from Saudi Arabia into the Persian Gulf. The only overland route out of Qatar is by way of Saudi Arabia and if that route is blocked, the only way to reach Qatar or leave it is by air or sea. However, flights to and from Qatar pass over Saudi air space part of the time and ships from or to Qatar have to pass through Saudi territorial waters. This means that Saudi Arabia can in effect declare a total blockade on Qatar if it so desires. It has never done so before, but it began the process on June 5th.

In addition to a blockade, the Saudis, joined by the United Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Mauritius, the Philippines and the Maldives, cut off diplomatic and consular relations with Qatar.  Egypt, Libya and the Emirates declared that they would ban Qatari plans and ships from their air space and territorial waters. In 2014, these countries took much milder steps in order to punish Qatar, cancelling them once Qatar agreed to accept the dictates of the Umma and signed the Riyadh agreement along with the rest of the Arab nations.

The reasons provided by the countries involved for the unprecedented severity of the current steps against Qatar included: “Qatar aids the Muslim Brotherhood and other terror organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, ISIS and Jebhat al-Nusrah” and “The Emir of  Qatar has declared that Iran is a good nation” as well as “Qatar destabilizes our regime,” as well  as ” Qatar provides hiding places and shelter to Muslim Brotherhood leaders who fled there from Egypt,” and “Qatar is giving aid to  the Houthi rebels (read Shiites) in Yemen.”

Another and most subtle reason, whose source is a Kuwaiti commentator, appears on al Jazeera‘s site: “Qatar refused to meet Trump’s financial demands.” This odd remark relates to a rumor on Facebook and other social network sites claiming that before Trump agreed to come to the Riyadh Arab League Conference, he demanded the Gulf Emirates purchase US arms in the legendary sum of one and a half trillion dollars, to be divided among Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Emirates. The three agreed, but Qatar pulled out at the last minute, causing the Emirates to follow suit, and leaving the Saudis holding the bill demanded by Trump.   The falling through of this deal, the largest in history, may have been the reason for Trump’s noticeably grim face in Riyadh.

Claiming that Qatar causes the destabilization of regimes is a veiled hint referring to al Jazeera which broadcasts from Qatar. Every since it began broadcasting in 1996 from the capital city of Qatar, Doha, al Jazeera has infuriated Arab rulers because it constantly carries out a media Jihad against them also aimed at others such as  Israel, the US, the West and Western culture. The channel also promotes and supports the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots such as Hamas, al Qaeda and the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel headed by Sheikh Raad Salah. Al Jazeera‘s media strategy is determined by Qatar’s Emir and is carried out down to the last detail by its very professional leading broadcaster and editorial policy setter, Jamal Rian, a Palestinian born in Tul Karem in 1953, who moved to Jordan where he was active in the Muslim Brotherhood until expelled by King Hussein.

Every so often other Arab regimes, chief among them Egypt under Mubarak, attempted to close down al Jazeera‘s offices in their countries after overly harsh criticism was aimed at the ruling government, only to reopen them when al Jazeera simply stepped up its attacks

The general feeling is that any government official – or anyone at all – who opposes a ruling regime (and there is no shortage of these people in any Arab country) leaks embarrassing information to  al Jazeera all the time, so that the channel is always poised to expose the information when the time is ripe and especially if the now-cornered victim has been unfriendly to it and to Islamists. The thought of this happening is enough to paralyze every Arab leader who would like to clamp down on al Jazeera in his country.

Every time a conflict erupts between Israel and Hamas, al Jazeera comes out in favor of the terrorist organization because of Qatar’s support of it. Hamas leader Haled Mashaal, makes his home in Qatar and the Qatari Emir is the only Arab leader so far to visit Hamas-ruled Gaza. The Emir has give billions to Hamas, enabling the organization to develop its  terror infrastructure.

Qatar has budgeted half a billion dollars to “buy” organizations such as UNESCO (whose next head will, unsurprisingly, be from Qatar), as well as media, academic and government figures to advance the goal of removing Jerusalem from Israeli hands. Al Jazeera runs a well publicized and organized campaign in order to ensure this outcome. This is the face of media jihad.

Saudi Arabia has never allowed al Jazeera‘s reporters to work from within the country, but does allow them to cover special events once in a while, mainly the Hajj. The Saudis know exactly what the Emir had up his sleeve when he founded a media network that would rule over Arab monarchs by means of recording their slip-ups, taking advantage of the Arab obsession with avoiding public humiliation by broadcasting from a satellite that can reach every house in the Arab world with no way of blocking it.

The last reports are that the Saudis blocked access to the al Jazeera internet site from their territory.  It is harder to block al Jazeera‘s satellite channel reception legally and it can still be accessed throughout the monarchy. Arab media attribute the blockage to declarations supportive of Hamas and Hezbollah made by the Emir of Qatar after Trump’s speech in Riyadh in which the US president included Hamas and Hezbollah in his list of terror organization, equating them with al Qaeda and ISIS.

Sorry, but I do not buy that story. Declarations about third parties (Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah) are ordinarily not the reason a public dispute erupts between Iranian monarchs. In my opinion, the reason for blocking the al Jazeera site in Saudi Arabia is a photograph posted on the al Jazeera site while Trump was in Riyadh.

This photo shows King Suleiman of Saudi Arabia awarding the Gold Decoration, the highest honor of the Saudi monarchy, to Donald Trump, but that is not the reason it was posted on al Jazeera. The reason has to do with the woman appearing in it and standing between Suleiman and Trump. I do not know what her name is, but she accompanied Trump during his entire stay in Riyadh standing just behind him and carrying a briefcase. Perhaps she is an interpreter. She is carrying a briefcase filled with important documents that have to be with Trump all the time in one picture as he, of course, would not be seen carrying a briefcase and standing be[hind her].

What is interesting about this woman is that she spent the entire time in the royal palace with her hair uncovered, like Melania Trump, the First Lady, did, even though women with uncovered hair are not to be seen in Saudi Arabia. In the palace, women are also not allowed to b e seen in the company of men. Al Jazeera posted this photo intentionally, in order to embarrass the king who granted Trump an award even though he was accompanied by women who, like those in the picture, who do not cover their hair. That photo of the king was the last straw and the Saudis blocked al Jazeera.

Qatar is now under great pressure. The nations that broke off relations with Qatar have stopped recognizing the Qatari Rial as a viable currency and have confiscated all the Qatari Rials in their banks. As a result, Qatar cannot purchase goods with its own currency and must use its foreign currency reserves. The supermarket shelves in Qatar have been emptied by residents hoarding food for fear that the blockade will not allow food to be imported. Long lines of cars can be seen trying to leave for Saudi Arabia to escape being shut up in the besieged, wayward country.

Qatar is trying to get the US to help improve the situation. The largest American air force base in the Gulf is located in  Qatar and it is from there that the attacks on ISIS are generated. Qatar also hosts the US Navy Fifth Fleet as well as the Central Command and Control of US forces in that part of the world. Qatari media stress the US concern about the siege that the Saudis have put on Qatar.

As part of its efforts to enlist US aid, Qatar has begun a counterattack: Qatar media have publicized that the U.A.E. ambassador, Yousef Al Otaiba , said on US election eve: “What star could make Donald Trump the president?” This is intended to cause a rift between the US and the Gulf Emirates, but will certainly not improve Qatar’s own relations with the Emirates.

Meanwhile, the Saudis and the Emirates have ejected Qatar from the coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen, and there are rumors that they will also remove Qatar from the Council for Cooperation in the Gulf. The Saudis could suspend Qatar’s membership in the Arab League and other organizations if this dispute continues, raising the pressure on the Emir’s al-Thani clan.

The next few days will decide Qatar’s future. There  is a distinct possibility that the foreign ministers of Qatar and the Arab nations taking part in the boycott against it will meet in some neutral spot, perhaps Kuwait, Qatar will give in and new rules will be set by Arab leaders, that is by King Suleiman, to keep Qatar in line. They would include: toning down al Jazeera and perhaps even switching its managerial staff, ending the support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other terror organizations, ending cooperation with Iran and above all, listening to what the Saudi “Big Brother” says about issues, especially those having to do with financial dealings with the US. Once the conditions for Qatari surrender are agreed upon, we can expect the ministers to meet the press, publicize a declaration on the end of the intra-family dispute, shake hands before the cameras and smile – until the next crisis.

There is, however, another scenario: Qatar does not give in, the Saudis and its allies invade, their armies eject the Emir and Mufti of Qatar, and also Jamal Rian, the guiding brain behind Al Jazeera’s  policies. They would then appoint a new Emir from the ruling family, one who knows how to behave, one who listens to the Saudis.  No one except for Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas would oppose this solution, and the soft-spoken condemnations will not succeed in hiding the world’s joy and sighs of relief if the Saudis actually carry out that plan.