Archive for the ‘Qatar and Muslim Brotherhood’ category

It’s Time for Qatar to Stop Its Regional Meddling

September 1, 2017

It’s Time for Qatar to Stop Its Regional Meddling, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Abha Shankar, August 31, 2017

Tehran sees Bahrain as a historic part of Iran and sees Saudi efforts to suppress the Shiite popular revolt as an “invasion,” making Bahrain a proxy battleground for the regional rivals. Riyadh, in turn, accuses Doha of supporting Iran-allied rebels in Yemen, known as Houthis.

Qatar’s failure to stop colluding with destabilizing elements to pursue its regional ambitions will only end up throwing the Middle East into deeper chaos.

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Bahrain is threatening to file a complaint with the United Nations Security Council and the International Criminal Court against fellow Gulf state Qatar for supporting terrorism and interfering in Bahrain’s internal affairs.

Qatar has engaged in “fourth generation warfare crimes” to destabilize Bahrain, a senior official told the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news organization last week. “Fourth generation warfare” is described as “a concept of warfare that is decentralized, utilizes terrorism as a tactic and relies on media manipulation.”

A Bahraini TV documentary alleges that the Qatar-financed Academy of Change used “claims of peaceful activism” to push for regime change in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait.

The documentary, “Academy of Destruction,” aired confessions that key figures affiliated with the academy “were sent to Manama to execute the Qatari goal to spread incitement and chaos to topple the regime in Bahrain.”

The academy is headed by Hisham Morsi, the son-in-law of blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Qatar’s financial backing of the global Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement and chummy ties with Iran have helped fuel regional unrest that threatens to destabilize existing regimes in the boycotting countries.

Doha’s meddling in the internal affairs of regional Arab states led Bahrain – along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt – to impose an economic and diplomatic blockade in early June.

The boycotting countries issued a list of 13 demands to lift the embargo. Those demands call on Qatar to cut its support for the Muslim Brotherhood and scale down its ties with Iran.

Qatar rejected the demands saying they violate its sovereignty, causing the boycotting states to replace them with six broad principles urging Doha “to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of States and from supporting illegal entities.”

One alleged conspiracy had Qatar working with Iran to overthrow the Bahraini regime during the Arab Spring protests of 2011, Al Arabiya reported. Bahraini TV broadcast a recording alleged to be a conversation between Qatar’s former Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani and Bahraini Shia dissident Sheikh Ali Salman plotting to oust Bahrain’s ruling al-Khalifa family.

This revelation built upon an earlier report that Hamad bin Jassim masterminded a 2011 Qatar-sponsored initiative to work with Iran and Bahraini opposition groups, in particular Ali Salman’s Al-Wefaq Society, to foment unrest and destabilize the region.

The broader Iranian-Saudi struggle for Middle East dominance has made Doha’s cozy relationship with Tehran a point of contention with the Riyadh-led quartet. Bahrain holds Qatar responsible for “media incitement, support for armed terrorist activities and funding linked to Iranian groups to carry out sabotage and spreading chaos” in the island nation. Since a Saudi-led military intervention in Bahrain in 2011 sought to quell weeks of Shia-dominated demonstrations against the ruling al-Khalifa Sunni monarchy, the country has been hit by sporadic protests by its majority Shia community that were reportedly backed by Qatar.

Tehran sees Bahrain as a historic part of Iran and sees Saudi efforts to suppress the Shiite popular revolt as an “invasion,” making Bahrain a proxy battleground for the regional rivals. Riyadh, in turn, accuses Doha of supporting Iran-allied rebels in Yemen, known as Houthis.

Things came to a head between Qatar and the Saudi-led quartet in April when Doha agreed to pay $1 billion in ransom to Iranian security officials and an al-Qaida-affiliated Syrian Islamist group. The deal, reported to be “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” secured the release of 26 Qataris, including members of the royal family, kidnapped during a hunting trip to Iraq.

Problems with Qatar have been festering for some time. In 2013-2014, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani signed the Riyadh Agreements, but then failed to live up to its commitments. The agreements sought to build “a new phase of fraternal relations” and called on Qatar to stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar also promised not to support rebel factions fighting Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in Yemen and Egypt.

Neither pledge was fulfilled.

In addition to its ties to Iran, Qatar’s support for various Brotherhood movements is another sore point. Since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, Doha has gone all-out to embrace Muslim Brotherhood branches in Egypt, Gaza, Libya, Syria and Tunisia. The tiny but gas-rich Gulf state pumped billions of dollars into the former Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Egypt, armed and aided Islamist rebel factions in Libya and Syria, and pledged millions to the Brotherhood’s Palestinian terrorist offshoot Hamas. Its government-backed Al Jazeera news network has helped advance Islamist agendas and provided a platform to Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood dissidents from other Gulf countries and Egypt.

Although the UAE and Saudi Arabia had earlier embraced Muslim Brotherhood members fleeing repression in their home countries, the Gulf monarchies subsequently had a falling out with the Islamist movement after its local networks sought to politicize Islam. In a 2002 interview, the late Saudi Prince Nayef Bin Abdl Aziz famously alleged the Brotherhood sought to “politicize Islam for self-serving purposes” and claimed “that the root of all our problems and issues is the Muslim Brotherhood.”

In March 2011, several members of the UAE’s al-Islah organization signed a political petition that demanded “an elected parliament with legislative powers” leading to a major crackdown on the Islamist group. A Facebook group “The UAE Revolution” called for “a revolution against the era of Sheikhs, a revolution against oppression and suppression of freedoms in the UAE, a revolution against those who have looted from the people of the UAE.”

More than 65 members of al-Islah were sentenced up to 15 years in the UAE in July 2013 for plotting to overthrow the Gulf monarchy in a trial contested by human rights groups. In an opinion piece the previous month, Emirati political analyst Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi had called the Brotherhood “the greatest threat to the UAE” and urged the Gulf monarchy to “take immediate measures to show that it will not stand for such threats” from the Islamist movement.

Egypt turned into another battleground for the Gulf monarchies in the wake of the Arab Spring. Relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia became strained when a Muslim Brotherhood-led government came to power in Egypt in 2012. President Mohammad Morsi’s government backed uprisings against Arab monarchies and engaged in outreach to Riyadh’s arch rival Iran. Doha, on the other hand, provided Morsi’s government billions of dollars in aid. After the military ousted Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood-led government in July 2013, Saudi Arabia and the UAE together offered $8 billion in aid to help pump up the Egyptian economy. The Muslim Brotherhood was subsequently designated a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt.

Qatar’s maverick foreign policy seeks to use Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremists as strategic weapons to upend Saudi dominance and further destabilize the Middle East. The Muslim Brotherhood’s successes in overthrowing regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, and other places in its quest for a global Caliphate has Saudi Arabia and the UAE worried that Qatar’s support may invigorate the Brotherhood in the Gulf monarchies and create civil unrest.

Qatar just restored full diplomatic ties with Iran that broke off last year following attacks on Saudi diplomatic facilities in Tehran. Doha’s close ties to the Islamic Republic will ensure continued collaboration with Iran-backed terrorist groups in Saudi Arabia’s restive eastern region of Qatif and Bahrain. Doha will also continue supporting Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen complicating the existing political, military, and humanitarian crisis in the country, where a Saudi-led military intervention is underway.

Qatar points to “Saudi and Emirati hypocrisy” by arguing that both the Gulf monarchies have a “shameful history” of support for terror and extremism; so why is the island Gulf nation being singled out? But Doha misses a key point: The question is not so much about either side’s support for terror as it is about the bigger and more important issue of regional stability. Qatar needs to recognize this fact and refrain from falling victim to its contentious history and the ambitions of its post-1995 leadership that wants Doha to pursue an independent foreign policy and be a major power in the region. Qatar’s failure to stop colluding with destabilizing elements to pursue its regional ambitions will only end up throwing the Middle East into deeper chaos.

Al Jazeera: The Terrorist Propaganda Network

August 4, 2017

Al Jazeera: The Terrorist Propaganda Network, Investigative Project on Terrorism, John Rossomando, August 4, 2017

Al Jazeera is not just another news organization like CNN, Fox News or the BBC, Qatari intelligence whistle-blower Ali al-Dahnim told Egypt’s Al-Bawaba newspaper in April. Qatar’s state security bureau both finances and operates Al Jazeera, he claimed. -“By and large, its [Al Jazeera] news content comes under the sway of security officials, rendering it as a mouthpiece for Qatar’s security and intelligence apparatus,” Al-Dahnim said on Egyptian television. “Not to mention its free publicity to hardened terrorists such as Osama bin Laden who used to use Al Jazeera as an outlet to disseminate his terror messages to the world.”

Al Jazeera English likewise pushes the Qatari government’s favored narratives, such as exaggerating the global importance of its emir.

Al Jazeera has been “hijacked” by the Muslim Brotherhood, Tunisian intellectual Khaled Shawkat alleged in 2006. Shawkat claimed to have spoken with numerous Al Jazeera journalists who told him that Qatar’s rulers handed the network over to the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Al Jazeera’s support for terrorism goes far beyond on-air cheerleading. Many of its employees have actively supported al-Qaida, Hamas and other terrorist groups. Concerns over the network’s consistent pro-terrorist positions prompted several Gulf States to demand that Qatar shut it down in June.

Sheikh Said Bin Ahmed Al-Thani, director of Qatar’s government information office, called such demands “a condescending view [that] demonstrates contempt for the intelligence and judgment of the people of the Middle East, who overwhelmingly choose to get their news from Al Jazeera rather than from their state-run broadcasters,” Al-Thani wrote in Newsweek.

But a week earlier, United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash detailed Al Jazeera’s connections to terrorists and terror incitement in a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Al Jazeera violates a 2005 U.N. Security Council resolution that called on member states to counter “incitement of terrorist acts motivated by extremism,” Gargash charged.

The network has given a platform to terrorists like Osama bin Laden, Hamas leaders Khaled Meshaal and Mohammed Deif, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah and others, Gargash wrote.

“These have not simply been topical interviews of the kind that other channels might run; Jazeera has presented opportunities for terrorist groups to threaten, recruit and incite without challenge or restraint,” Gargash wrote.

Al Jazeera Incites Terrorism

Al Jazeera took credit for the wave of Arab Spring revolutions in early 2011. Network host Mehdi Hasan noted in a December 2011 column that Al Jazeera gave a regional voice to the irate Tunisian protesters who ousted their dictator that they would not have otherwise had.

Faisal Al-Qassem, host of Al Jazeera’s show “The Opposite Direction,” boasted that television, not the Internet or Facebook, was responsible for the revolutions. Al Jazeera’s influence during the Arab Spring and the subsequent revolutions is a factor in the effort by Qatar’s Gulf neighbors to clip its wings.

Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi used his widely viewed Al Jazeera a program to incite the masses against their dictators.

“We salute the [Tunisian] people, which has taught the Arab and Islamic peoples … the following lesson: Do not despair, and do not fear the tyrants, and more feeble the than a spider-web. They quickly collapse in the face of the power of steadfast and resolute peoples,” Qaradawi said in a Jan. 16, 2011 Al Jazeera broadcast. “The tyrants never listen and never heed advice, until they are toppled.”

He likewise called on former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down on his program later that month.

“There is no staying longer, Mubarak, I advise you (to learn) the lesson of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali,” Qaradawi said referencing Tunisia’s toppled dictator.

A month later, Qaradawi issued a fatwa calling for the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Libya still has not recovered from the toppling of Gaddafi in 2011.

Qaradawi urged the overthrow of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad after demonstrations began in Syria that March, sparking the ongoing Syrian civil war.

Even before the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera acted as a platform for violent terrorists.

Qaradawi’s endorsement of suicide bombings aired on Al Jazeera. The network also glorified a female Palestinian suicide bomber whose 2003 attack killed 19 people at an Arab-owned restaurant in Haifa as a “martyr.”

It also broadcast a 2006 speech by al-Qaida leader Abdel Majid al-Zindani at a pro-Hamas conference in Yemen, even though the United States and United Nations already had designated him as a terrorist. Proceeds from the conference benefited Hamas. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and the widow of slain Hamas leader Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi also attended.

“What is our duty towards this righteous jihad-fighting people, the vanguard of this nation? What is our duty? What is our obligation? ” al-Zindani asked. “The Hamas government is the Palestinian people’s government today. It is the jihad-fighting, steadfast, resolute government of Palestine.

“I don’t have it in my pocket right now, but I am making a pledge, and as you know, I keep my promises. So I’m donating 200,000 riyals. What about you? What will you donate? Go ahead.”

Defector Alleges Qatari Intel Runs Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera is not just another news organization like CNN, Fox News or the BBC, Qatari intelligence whistle-blower Ali al-Dahnim told Egypt’s Al-Bawaba newspaper in April. Qatar’s state security bureau both finances and operates Al Jazeera with financing systems from Personalmoneystore.com, he claimed. -“By and large, its [Al Jazeera] news content comes under the sway of security officials, rendering it as a mouthpiece for Qatar’s security and intelligence apparatus,” Al-Dahnim said on Egyptian television. “Not to mention its free publicity to hardened terrorists such as Osama bin Laden who used to use Al Jazeera as an outlet to disseminate his terror messages to the world.”

Al Jazeera English likewise pushes the Qatari government’s favored narratives, such as exaggerating the global importance of its emir.

Its short-lived affiliate, Al Jazeera America (AJAM), aired pro-Palestinian propaganda. During the 2014 Gaza crisis, AJAM host Wajahat Ali pushed Hamas’ talking pointsabout the territory’s population density without a single reference to how the terrorist group used mosques and civilian buildings to launch rockets.

“I think it is simply providing one side of a story. It doesn’t rise to Soviet propaganda, but it certainly is propaganda for one side,” Temple University journalism professor Christopher Harper told the Investigative Project on Terrorism in 2014.

Muslim Brotherhood Shapes Al Jazeera Narrative

Al Jazeera has been “hijacked” by the Muslim Brotherhood, Tunisian intellectual Khaled Shawkat alleged in 2006. Shawkat claimed to have spoken with numerous Al Jazeera journalists who told him that Qatar’s rulers handed the network over to the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Most of them agreed that ‘loyalty’ [to a group] had come to supercede ‘qualifications,’ and that journalists with no Muslim Brotherhood background had to choose one of two options: [either] adapt to the new work conditions and swear loyalty to the representative of the supreme guide [of the Muslim Brotherhood’ at Al Jazeera, or leave,” Shawkat wrote, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Around the same time, a top UAE official complained to American diplomats that Qatar had acquiesced to Al Jazeera staff who were “linked to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and jihadists,” a State Department cable noted.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan “said although the Qatari royal family finances Al Jazeera, the people ‘controlling’ it were the same ones financing Osama bin Laden, Hamas, and Iraqi jihadists,” the cable said.

Numerous Al Jazeera employees resigned in 2013 in protest over the channel’s pro-Muslim Brotherhood orientation. Former Al Jazeera journalist Fatima Nabil charged that she and her colleagues “had the feeling that the channel is partisan in favor of political Islam, and in most cases selectivity is exercised in broadcasting the text messages [of viewers] on the channel, and even more so in the selection of guests and interviewees.”

The Qatari government controls the network’s coverage, former Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Mohamed Fawzi, arrested by Egyptian authorities in 2013 on terrorism charges, told the Washington Times this year. Al Jazeera actively worked with Brotherhood members in Egypt, Fahmy claimed.

Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour allegedly supported a secret Muslim Brotherhood group in the UAE that aimed to stir up unrest and chaos, Egypt’s Youm 7reported. Qatar provided fugitive members of the Muslim Brotherhood with passports and money. Abdulrhaman Khalifa bin Sabih, the former leader of the secret Muslim Brotherhood organization in the UAE, told Youm7 that an Al Jazeera employee named Mohammed al-Mukhtar al-Shankiti trained him to use social media to spread demonstrations and unrest in the Emirates.

Al Jazeera reportedly enabled the secret Muslim Brotherhood group to link with foreign media and communicate with them because they lacked the means to do so on their own.

Al-Arabiya recently noted that Mansour emphasized the commonalities between the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida during a 2015 interview with then Jabhat al-Nusra (Now called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) leader Abu Muhammad al-Joulani, as evidence of his Brotherhood sympathies.

Al-Arabiya claimed that Al Jazeera’s organizing the interview with al-Joulani served the purpose of improving his image so he can take over after Assad falls, and that it proved a Qatari connection with the Nusra leader.

Emails seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan also show the importance al-Qaida gave to Al Jazeera. One email noted that while other networks were hostile to the terrorist group, it could not afford to turn Al Jazeera into an enemy.

“Although sometimes it makes mistakes against us, their mistakes are limited. By clashing with it, it will be biased and damage the image of the Muslim Mujahidin,” bin Laden wrote under the alias “Zamarai.”

Alleged al-Qaida Members on Al Jazeera’s Staff

Al Jazeera Islamabad bureau chief and Syrian native Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan – identified in a leaked National Security Agency PowerPoint as a member of both al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood – helped Al Jazeera reporter Ahmed Mansour secure the interview with Joulani. Zaidan denies belonging to al-Qaida. He met with bin Laden several times after 9/11.

Zaidan, however, periodically writes for a website connected with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Numerous emails retrieved from bin Laden’s compound showed that al-Qaida viewed Zaidan as an asset. Al-Qaida leaders discussed what they wanted to ask Zaidan, including a 2010 email in which an al-Qaida leader said he hoped to use Zaidan to talk Al Jazeera into running a documentary on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Zaidan isn’t the first Al Jazeera journalist accused by the U.S. government of belonging to al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood. Sami Muheidine Mohamed al-Haj worked in Al Jazeera’s Doha newsroom in 2000. He also served as a money courier for al-Qaida under the cover of his employment with Al Jazeera and a beverage company.

Pakistani authorities captured al-Haj in December 2001 because his name appeared on a watch list, and turned him over to U.S. forces in January 2002. U.S. authorities transferred al-Haj to Guantanamo Bay for questioning, including for information about Al Jazeera’s contacts with bin Laden.

A leaked Guantanamo Bay file describes al-Haj as a member of both the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida.

He belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Shura council and was involved in plans to distribute weapons to terrorists in Chechnya. A photo showed Al-Haj in Al Jazeera’s Kandahar, Afghanistan office with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad.

Another email captured in the raid on Bin Laden’s compound describes an Al Jazeera cameraman referred to as “Siraj” as a member of the al-Qaida linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, who was imprisoned in Iran. The LIFG maintained a network inside Iran in the 2000s.

Networks have their biases. But none comes close to Al Jazeera’s persistent role as the biggest promoter of terrorist propaganda next to social media.

Secretary of State Shills for Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar

July 25, 2017

Secretary of State Shills for Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar, Clarion ProjectRyan Mauro and Martin Mawyer, July 25, 2017

(Please see also, State Department Lawyers Removing References to ISIS ‘Genocide’ Against Christians, Other Religious Minorities. Tillerson’s affinity for the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar and Turkey apparently cannot be blamed on Obama hold-overs. — DM)

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Political analysts always say that Trump was elected because people wanted change from an outsider. Tillerson is not bringing change. When it comes to Islamism, it’s the same-old same-old. Possibly worse.

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The Trump Administration still hasn’t designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization as it was expected to do. Designation falls under the purview of Secretary of State Tillerson, who has chosen the Muslim Brotherhood and its backers in Qatar and Turkey over their Arab rivals.

Tillerson recently signaled his opposition to designating the Muslim Brotherhood in mid-June. He only has negative things to say about the idea.

His main point is that the Brotherhood’s political parties have representatives in governments like those in Bahrain and Turkey. That is irrelevant. If it was such a problem, Bahrain itself wouldn’t have banned the Brotherhood and the U.S. wouldn’t be dealing with the Lebanese government that has Hezbollah in it, which is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Tillerson also repeated the “non-violent” and “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood propaganda. He claimed that the Brotherhood’s political parties in governments “have become so by renouncing violence and terrorism.” That was false when the Obama Administration said it, and it is false now.

The disappointment in Tillerson’s position is made exponentially greater by the fact that now is an optimum time to designate the group.

The Arab world is putting unprecedented pressure on Qatar over its support of the Brotherhood and other jihadists in the Islamist swarm. Muslim foes of the Brotherhood are left wondering where the U.S.stands because Trump and Tillerson aren’t on the same page.

Counter-terrorism expert Patrick Poole goes so far as to assert that Tillerson is “sabotaging” Trump’s foreign policy and urges his departure from the administration.

While President Trump expressed his support for the Arab measures against Qatar and unequivocally described Qatar as a major terrorism-financier, Tillerson did the opposite. He described Qatar as “very reasonable” in its reaction to the Arabs’ pressure.

His spokesperson read a scripted statement accusing the Arab states of having ulterior motives, saying the U.S. is “mystified” by their complaints. The State Department even cast doubt on the credibility of the Arabs’ accusations, claiming that they haven’t provided supporting details. Qatar’s lavish sponsorship of terrorism and extremism is uncontestable.

As Poole documents, far from offering support for those Arab states opposing Qatar, Tillerson publicly made moves towards Qatar’s Turkish allies and increased criticism of Qatar’s Saudi adversaries. The Trump Administration also agreed to sell up to 36 fighter jets to Qatar right after the Arabs began their campaign.

Tillerson even signed a counter-terrorism agreement with Qatar, spitting in the faces of the Arab countries fed up with Qatar’s repeated breaking of its promises to change its behavior. Immediately after signing the deal, Qatar reiterated its firm commitment to Hamas (and therefore, the broader Muslim Brotherhoodorganization of which it is an official branch).

 

Tillerson’s Ties to Qatar

People are inevitably influenced by those they surround themselves with, especially if that interaction is lucrative. Perhaps Tillerson’s favoring of Qatar has something to do with the close relationship he had with the Qatari government as a businessman with ExxonMobil, which has a decades-long association with the rulers.

ExxonMobil was a founding member of the U.S.-Qatar Business Council in 1996, an entity created by the Qatari regime. Tillerson was a senior official at the time. Another listed founding member is Al-Jazeera, the jihadist-friendly propaganda network run by Qatar and the Brotherhood. One of the Arab states’ top demands is the closure of the network headquartered in Doha.

After becoming chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson became a member of the U.S.-Qatar Business Council’s advisory board. He apparently held this position up until when he became Secretary of State, as his name is still listed with that title on the website.

The Vice President of ExxonMobil Production’s name is currently listed as a member of the Council’s board of directors. Al-Jazeera officials also appear on the advisory board and board of directors.

The organization’s website says that the U.S.-Qatar Business Council “played a major role in the formation of Qatar Foundation International (U.S.-based).” The Qatar Foundation headquartered in Doha is a major promoter of Islamist extremism, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, including Islamists in America.

When the Arab campaign against Qatar began, the Qataris immediately began utilizing their contacts to try to win the State Department over. It deployed its lobbyists in America and they had leverage: The West’s three biggest energy companies, including ExxonMobil, were trying to strike a deal with the Qatari government for expanding liquified natural gas production.

But Qatar isn’t the only country working aggressively to influence U.S. foreign policy in a direction favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood. Turkey’s government is also leading the Islamist charge.

 

Tillerson’s Ties to Turkey

ExxonMobil is a member of the U.S.-Turkish Business Council. The chairman is Ekin Alptekin, the very same Turkish businessman at the center of the controversy with President Trump’s former National Security Adviser, General Michael Flynn.

Alptekin’s company had a $600,000 contract with Flynn to promote the Erdogan government’s interests. Flynn’s firm registered as a lobbyist but did not register as a foreign agent. The Justice Department’s National Security Division began an investigation last November. Flynn registered as a foreign agent of Turkey after he was fired and replaced by General H.R. McMaster.

We do not currently know of direct dealings between Tillerson and Alptekin, but ExxonMobil’s involvement in the U.S.-Turkish Business Council highlights how his prior relationship with the Turkish government may influence his behavior.

At a time when Erdogan has few defenders, the Islamist dictator finds a supporter in Tillerson.

On July 9, Tillerson traveled to Istanbul to receive an award from the World Petroleum Congress. There, he heaped praise upon those who defended Erdogan against a coup attempt last year, going so far as to describe the Islamist government as a democracy. He said:

“Nearly a year ago, the Turkish people – brave men and women – stood up against coup plotters and defended their democracy. I take this moment to recognize their courage and honor the victims of the events of July 15, 2016. It was on that day that the Turkish people exercised their rights under the Turkish constitution, defended their place in a prosperous Turkey, and we remember those who were injured or died in that event.”

Tillerson doesn’t defend Erdogan in all circumstances, as he did condemn the Turkish security personnel who attacked protesters in Washington D.C. in May. But that’s not exactly a bold stand; it’s something that any public official would condemn.

When it comes to the tough issues, Tillerson has sided with Qatar and Turkey, even when it contradicts the commander-in-chief who picked him for secretary of state.

 

On designating the Muslim Brotherhood, Tillerson sides with Qatar and Turkey

When the Arab states piled unprecedented pressure on Qatar for its sponsorship of terrorism and extremism including the Brotherhood and Hamas, Tillerson sided with Qatar and Turkey.

When it comes to last year’s coup in Turkey, Tillerson sided unequivocally with Erdogan’s Islamist dictatorship. He didn’t even necessarily have to talk about it during his visit to Istanbul. He chose to.

When it comes to the Kurds, our best allies in fighting ISIS, Tillerson’s State Department sided with Turkey in criticizing the Iraqi Kurds’ referendum on independent statehood. It also implied opposition to Kurdish independence, reacting to the referendum with a statement in support of a “united” and “federal” Iraq.

Political analysts always say that Trump was elected because people wanted change from an outsider. Tillerson is not bringing change. When it comes to Islamism, it’s the same-old same-old. Possibly worse.

 

Why has Qatar lost all its credibility?

June 30, 2017

Why has Qatar lost all its credibility? Al ArabiyaMondher Thabet, June 30, 2017

I think Qatar’s decision to throw itself in Turkey’s arms falls within the context of a project that unites it with the Brotherhood and that extends to political Islamist movements including the Supreme Leader’s rule in Iran. The presence of a Turkish military base and Turkish soldiers in Doha aims to protect Emir Tamim bin Hamad himself from any action that aims to rectify the situation in the Qatar and does not aim to protect Qatar.

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Qatar has completely lost credibility just like Al Jazeera channel and other media platforms that had mastered the art of misleading and spreading lies.

It seemed it adopted the principle of “divide and rule” and was influenced by Nazi minister Joseph Goebbels’ law of propaganda: “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.”

The world has been living through a moral crisis since the beginning of the 1990s. Qatar exploited it to serve its suspicious agenda by paying huge sums of money to buy politicians, intelligence and media figures, intellectuals and research and studies centers. It gathered them to forge facts and to help it reach decision makers in some influential countries to serve its project to sabotage Arab and Islamic countries through terrorist and extremist groups.

At some point, Qatar went as far as deceiving international intelligence apparatuses through reports submitted by hired agents. Their data was supported by media reports, which Qatar paid for to justify its destructive agenda in Arab countries like Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq and Yemen.

Supporting terror outfits

Qatar supported the Houthis against Saudi Arabia and supported terrorist groups in Bahrain. Systematic terrorism against the Egyptian state is what led Libya to its current deteriorating situation as Qatar supported foreign militias that violated the law just like it supported terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.

In 2011, Qatari officials thought Doha was capable of bringing down Arab regimes from “ocean to Gulf” and replace them with extremist regimes in which the terrorist Brotherhood movement and al-Qaeda organization ally. However, people woke up from their slumber and realized that Qatar’s agenda was planned in dark rooms to put the entire Arab world under the control of foreign powers in order to control the nation’s capabilities and riches.

The 2013 June 30 revolution, which the Egyptian people led against the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, destroyed the biggest part of Qatar’s conspiracy against the region. This conspiracy had targeted all Arab countries. The current Gulf and Arab position is meant to destroy whatever is left of this Qatari destructive agenda.

I think Qatar’s decision to throw itself in Turkey’s arms falls within the context of a project that unites it with the Brotherhood and that extends to political Islamist movements including the Supreme Leader’s rule in Iran. The presence of a Turkish military base and Turkish soldiers in Doha aims to protect Emir Tamim bin Hamad himself from any action that aims to rectify the situation in the Qatar and does not aim to protect Qatar.

Because Qatari policies began to eat everything away, it is time to purge the Arab and Gulf region and the world in general from its harm.
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Mondher Thabet is a Tunisian politician and a political analyst on several television channels.

The Former Anchor Who Says Al-Jazeera Aids Terrorists

June 23, 2017

The Former Anchor Who Says Al-Jazeera Aids Terrorists, Bloomberg, Eli Lake, June 23, 2017

(Please see also Qatar’s neighbors issue steep list of demands to end crisis. — DM)

Mohamed Fahmy in the defendants’ cage during his trial in Egypt. Photographer: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

“The more the network coordinates and takes directions from the government, the more it becomes a mouthpiece for Qatari intelligence,” he told me in an interview Thursday. “There are many channels who are biased, but this is past bias. Now al-Jazeera is a voice for terrorists.” 

Fahmy’s testimony is particularly important now. Al-Jazeera is at the center of a crisis ripping apart the Arab Gulf states. Earlier this month Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain imposed a political and diplomatic blockade on Qatar. As part of that blockade, al-Jazeera has been kicked out of those countries.

Fahmy’s case is one more piece of evidence that the al-Jazeera seen by English-speaking audiences is not the al-Jazeera seen throughout the Muslim world. It’s one more piece of evidence that Qatar’s foreign policy is a double game: It hosts a military base the U.S. uses to fight terror, while funding a media platform for extremists.

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Mohamed Fahmy is the last person one would expect to make the case against al-Jazeera.

In 2014, the former Cairo bureau chief for the Qatar-funded television network began a 438-day sentence in an Egyptian prison on terrorism charges and practicing unlicensed journalism. His incarceration made al-Jazeera a powerful symbol of resistance to Egypt’s military dictatorship.

Today Fahmy is preparing a lawsuit against his former employers. And while he is still highly critical of the regime that imprisoned him, he also says the Egyptian government is correct when it says al-Jazeera is really a propaganda channel for Islamists and an arm of Qatari foreign policy.

“The more the network coordinates and takes directions from the government, the more it becomes a mouthpiece for Qatari intelligence,” he told me in an interview Thursday. “There are many channels who are biased, but this is past bias. Now al-Jazeera is a voice for terrorists.”

Fahmy’s testimony is particularly important now. Al-Jazeera is at the center of a crisis ripping apart the Arab Gulf states. Earlier this month Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain imposed a political and diplomatic blockade on Qatar. As part of that blockade, al-Jazeera has been kicked out of those countries.

The treatment of al-Jazeera as an arm of the Qatari state as opposed to a news organization does not sit well with many in the West. This week a New York Times editorial accused Qatar’s foes of “muzzling” a news outlet “that could lead citizens to question their rulers” in the Arab world.

In some ways it’s understandable for English-speaking audiences to take this view. Al-Jazeera’s English-language broadcasts certainly veer politically to the left. At times the channel has sucked up to police states. The channel embarrassed itself with such fluff as a recent sycophantic feature on female traffic cops in North Korea. But al-Jazeera English has also broken some important stories. It worked with Human Rights Watch to uncover documents mapping out the links between Libyan intelligence under Muammar Qaddafi and the British and U.S. governments.

Al-Jazeera’s Arabic broadcasts however have not met these same standards in recent years. To start, the network still airs a weekly talk show from Muslim Brotherhood theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi. He has used his platform to argue that Islamic law justifies terrorist attacks against Israelis and U.S. soldiers. U.S. military leaders, such as retired Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, who commanded forces in the initial campaign to stabilize Iraq, have said publicly that al-Jazeera reporters appeared to have advance knowledge of terrorist attacks. Fahmy told me that in his research he has learned that instructions were given to journalists not to refer to al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra, as a terrorist organization.

He said Qatar’s neighbors were justified in banning al-Jazeera. “Al-Jazeera has breached the true meaning of press freedom that I advocate and respect by sponsoring these voices of terror like Yusuf al Qaradawi,” he said. “If al-Jazeera continues to do that, they are directly responsible for many of these lone wolves, many of these youth that are brain washed.”

Fahmy didn’t always have this opinion of his former employer. He began to change his views while serving time. It started in the “scorpion block” of Egypt’s notorious Tora prison. During his stay, he came to know some of Egypt’s most notorious Islamists.

“When I started meeting and interviewing members of the Muslim Brotherhood and their sympathizers, they specifically told me they had been filming protests and selling it to al-Jazeera and dealing fluidly with the network and production companies in Egypt associated with the network,” he said.

One example of al-Jazeera’s coordination with the Muslim Brotherhood revolves around Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in the summer of 2013, following the military coup that unseated Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president. As part of Fahmy’s case against al-Jazeera, he took testimony from a former security guard for the network and the head of the board of trustees for Egyptian state television. Both testified that members of the Muslim Brotherhood seized the broadcast truck al-Jazeera used to air the sit-ins that summer. In other words, al-Jazeera allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to broadcast its own protests.

That incident happened in the weeks before Fahmy was hired to be the network’s Cairo bureau chief. He says he was unaware of these ties to the Muslim Brotherhood until he began doing his own research and reporting from an Egyptian prison.

When Fahmy learned of these arrangements, he became angry. It undermined his case before the Egyptian courts that he was unaffiliated with any political party or terrorist groups inside Egypt. “To me this is a big deal, this is not acceptable,” he said. “It put me in danger because it’s up to me to convince the judge that I was just doing journalism.”

Ultimately Fahmy was released from prison in 2015. But this was not because al-Jazeera’s lawyers made a good case for him. Rather it was the work of human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who eventually got him safely out of the country to Canada.

Now Fahmy is turning his attention to al-Jazeera. He is pressing a court in British Columbia to hear his case in January against the network, from whom he is seeking $100 million in damages for breach of contract, misrepresentation and negligence.

Fahmy’s case is one more piece of evidence that the al-Jazeera seen by English-speaking audiences is not the al-Jazeera seen throughout the Muslim world. It’s one more piece of evidence that Qatar’s foreign policy is a double game: It hosts a military base the U.S. uses to fight terror, while funding a media platform for extremists.

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.'”

Military crisis in Qatar may spark Gaza outbreak

June 13, 2017

Military crisis in Qatar may spark Gaza outbreak, DEBKAfile, June 13, 2017

A military crisis centering on Qatar would be a catalyst for an outbreak of violence from the Gaza Strip. And indeed, after the failed Sanwar mission to Cairo and the reduction of electric power to the Gaza Strip, Hamas spokesmen warned that an “explosion” was imminent.

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The electricity cutback in the Gaza Strip, engineered by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to flex muscle against Hamas rule, was just one piece on the checkerboard created by the crackdown Egypt, Saudi Arabia Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have imposed on Qatar for supporting terrorist groups like the Palestinian extremist Hamas. Therefore, Hamas leader Yahya Sanwar had little to expect from his mission to Cairo last weekend to persuade the El-Sisi government to ease its restrictions on the Gaza Strip.

He arrived at the head of a large mission, in which the group’s military arm, Ezz e-Din El-Qassam was heavily represented. Their appeals to Maj.-Gen Khaled Fawzy, director of Egyptian General Intelligence, met with a list of tough conditions. When the Palestinian delegation balked, Cairo acted to tighten its blockade on the Palestinian enclave.

The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip found themselves in the same boat as their old friend, Qatar, in the week that their internal rival, Mahmoud Abba, docked payment for the electricity Israeli supplies the Gaza Strip. The power supply was cut by 40 percent.

From 2015, the emir of Qatar remained the only Arab ruler backing the Palestinian extremist Hamas with occasional cash donations to Gaza City and permission for its top officials to set up shop in Doha.

This flow of aid was abruptly cut off by the land, sea and air blockade Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt clamped down on Qatar last week over its support for terrorist groups and ties with Tehran. Sheikh Tamim bin-Hamad Al-Khalifa defied the ultimatum they presented him, and so Qatar’s banks and international assets have been losing dollars, its currency has plummeted and there is no money to spare for the Gaza Strip.

Qatar and Hamas are being pushed into the same corner.

The small Gulf island, which is the world’s largest supplier of natural gas, was been told by the four leading Arab governments to expel Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas officials from its soil, after years of providing them with hospitality plus pensions generous enough for them to live a life of ease and plenty, while also running their terrorist networks across the region and beyond.

Qatar was also told to discontinue its propaganda campaigns against Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and shut down its main platform, the Al Jazeera TV channel; and hundreds of Egyptian and Saudi dissidents granted political asylum deported forthwith.

With nowhere else to go, these dissidents could potentially head for sanctuary in the Gaza Strip, making it a “little Qatar,” which is why Cairo further tightened the Palestinian enclave’s isolation by blocking all routes of access.

The Hamas delegation was likewise confronted in Cairo with tough demands by the Egyptian intelligence chief:

1. To turn in the Muslim Brotherhood fugitives they were sheltering in the Gaza Strip.

2.  Not just to sever cooperation between the Hamas military arm and the Islamic State networks in the Sinai Peninsula, but to surrender to Egypt all the intelligence they possessed about the jihadists and their activities.

3.  To discontinue weapons smuggling operations through Sinai.

After balking at the Egyptian demands, Yahya Sanwar was forced to leave Cairo empty-handed with regard to eased restrictions and humanitarian aid – only to find on his return home that the Egyptians had raised their biggest gun against the Gaza Strip: They had cut off power.

A humanitarian catastrophe now hangs over the two million inhabitants of the tiny Mediterranean enclave. Hospitals are cutting back operations, refrigerators are switched off, clean water supplies are dwindling because desalination plants are without power, raw sewage is dumped into the sea and sanitary conditions deteriorating.

Cairo asked the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and the Israeli government not to relent, but to keep the pressure on the Hamas regime high. Ramallah must continue to hold back payment to cover Israel’s electricity bills, which suits Mahmoud Abbas’ campaign for bringing Hamas to heel.

But for Israel, there is a dilemma. Nonetheless, the Netanyahu government is extremely wary of breaking away from the anti-terror line taken by Arab governments, because this could put paid to the delicate ties established with them – especially in the military domain – through long and laborious effort.

In Jerusalem, it is therefore ardently hoped that the Qatar crisis is quickly resolved and Hamas and Cairo can reach terms exponentially for easing the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

For the time being, there is no sign of this happening. On the contrary, there are indications of the crisis moving onto a military plane. Sources in the Middle East are not ruling out possible military action by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE against Qatar.

Read more about this looming potential in the coming DEBKA Weekly issue (for subscribers) out next Friday, June 16. 

A military crisis centering on Qatar would be a catalyst for an outbreak of violence from the Gaza Strip. And indeed, after the failed Sanwar mission to Cairo and the reduction of electric power to the Gaza Strip, Hamas spokesmen warned that an “explosion” was imminent.

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.

Qatar, Trump and Double Games

June 9, 2017

Qatar, Trump and Double Games, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, June 9, 2017

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

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.

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

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US 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 firmly 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 financed 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. They 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 significant 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.

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.

It is likely that given then-president Barack Obama’s strategic goal of reorienting US Middle East policy away from its traditional Sunni allies and Israel toward Iran and its allies in Qatar and Turkey, that Brookings, Clinton and other beneficiaries of Qatar’s generosity were simply knocking on an open door. Indeed, in 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, the Obama administration’s alliance with Qatar, Turkey and Iran against Sunnis and Israel came out of the shadows.

During the Hamas war with Israel, Obama sought to dislodge Egypt from its traditional role as mediator between Israel and Hamas and replace it with Qatar and Turkey. For their part, both regimes, which fund and support Hamas, accepted all of Hamas’s cease-fire demands against Israel and Egypt. As their partner, the Obama administration also supported Hamas’s demands.

Had Egypt and Israel bowed to those demands, Hamas would have achieved a strategic victory in its war against Israel and Egypt. To avoid buckling to US pressure, Egypt built a coalition with the same states that are now leading the charge against Qatar – Saudi Arabia and the UAE – and openly supported Israel.

In the end, the standoff between the two sides caused the war to end in a draw. Hamas was not dismantled, but it failed to secure Israeli or Egyptian acceptance of any of its demands for open borders and access to the international banking system.

Given that Trump is not aligned with Brookings, the Clinton Foundation or US academia, it could be argued that he is not beholden to Qatari money in any way.

But unfortunately, they are not the only beneficiaries of Qatari largesse.

There is also the Pentagon.

In the 1990s, Qatar spent more than $1b. constructing the Al Udeid Air Base outside of Doha.

It is the most sophisticated air force base in the region. In 2003, the base replaced Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan Air Base as headquarters for the US military’s Central Command. Since 2003, all US operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are controlled from the base.

Following Trump’s Twitter postings, the Pentagon was quick to say that operations at Al Udeid base had not been influenced by the crisis between Qatar and its neighbors. The Pentagon spokesman refused to say whether or not Qatar sponsors terrorism.

Instead, Capt. Chris Davis stated, “I consider them a host to our very important base at Al Udeid.” He commended Qatar for hosting US forces and for its “enduring commitment to regional security.”

Also on Tuesday, according to the Egyptian media, Iran deployed Revolutionary Guard Corps forces to Doha to protect the emir and his palace.

On Wednesday, Turkey’s parliament voted to empower Erdogan to deploy forces to Qatar to protect the regime.

The moves by Qatar’s allies Iran and Turkey significantly raise the stakes in the contest of wills now at play between Qatar and its Sunni neighbors and adversaries.

With Iranian forces guarding the palace and the emir, the possibility of a bloodless coup inside the Al Thani family has been significantly diminished.

Any move against the emir will raise the prospect of an open war with Iran.

So, too, if Egypt and Saudi Arabia invade or otherwise attack Qatar, with or without US support, the US risks seeing its Arab allies at war with its NATO ally Turkey.

Under the circumstances, Trump’s refusal to endorse Article 5 of the NATO treaty during his speech in Brussels appears wise and well-considered.

Article 5 states that an attack against one NATO ally represents an attack against all NATO allies.

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 the US can probably work toward openly is a diminishment of Qatar’s regional profile and financial support for Iran and its terrorist allies and proxies. Hence, Trump’s announcement on Wednesday that he will mediate the conflict.

However, in the medium and long term, Trump’s statement on Twitter made clear his ultimate goal.