Archive for the ‘Qatar’ 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.

Jewish Voice for Peace: Fatal Jerusalem Terrorist Attack “Grim,” But Gaza

July 16, 2017

Jewish Voice for Peace: Fatal Jerusalem Terrorist Attack “Grim,” But Gaza, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Ariel Behar, July 16, 2017

(Please see also, Nothing is sacred. — DM)

Friday’s terrorist attack at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem provided yet another example of how apologists avoid acknowledging the reality of Palestinian violence.

Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television’s first headline made it seem like three Palestinians were shot dead for no particular reason. “At least three Palestinians killed in shooting in Jerusalem’s Old City,” the network posted on Twitter.

The three were killed after they shot and killed two police officers and wounded a third in an unprovoked attack.

In the United States, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which claims to want a safe and secure state for both Israelis and Palestinians, reacted to the terrorist attack by sharing a Facebook post posting a video about the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip. “The news today of armed Palestinians killed by Israeli occupying police near Al Aqsa mosque is grim, sad and frightening but won’t include the backdrop of Gaza in the dark, its undrinkable water, children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder… each day becoming more unlivable,” JVP wrote.

This apparent rationalization of a terrorist attack that killed two Israeli police officers by Israeli Arabs who opened fire after prayer on the Temple Mount is not a surprising move by Jewish Voice for Peace.

A Palestinian activist at a JVP conference earlier this year urged the audience to become “freedom fighters” by utilizing “guerilla disobedience” because activism against the occupation was not enough.

At another panel on Zionism, JVP argued that Israel is an apartheid state ignoring equal rights and opportunities of Israeli Arabs, while also pushing the notion that Zionism should not exist. Zionism was a movement aimed at the reestablishment of a Jewish state.

JVP championed the case of convicted terrorist Rasmieh Odeh, who was responsible for a 1969 grocery store bombing that killed two Israeli students. JVP invited Odeh to speak at its conference in April, just after she pleaded guilty to naturalization fraud and agreed to be deported. Odeh claims her Israeli terrorism conviction resulted from weeks of torture. Though she has no evidence to support this, JVP embraces it as truth.

For a group supposedly inspired by their faith to work for justice and equality for both Israelis and Palestinians, Jewish Voice for Peace is disturbingly quiet about condemning terrorist violence targeting Israelis.

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.

Hamas’ Catch-22

June 29, 2017

Hamas’ Catch-22, Israel Hayom, Prof. Eyal Zisser, June 29, 2017

The dilemma facing Israel, and perhaps Egypt as well, is whether to tighten the noose around Hamas’ neck or, conversely, turn on the power and ease the pressure in an effort to sidestep entanglement in Abbas’ own grudge match with Hamas. Abbas, for his part, is trying to kill three birds with one stone: Hamas, Dahlan, and Israel — trying to embarrass the latter by making it the focus of international criticism. Water and electricity are one thing; visas abroad for Haniyeh and his cohort another thing altogether.

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The voices rising from Gaza are not of war and certainly not of triumph, but of distress. It has been 10 years since its people took Gaza by force, and Hamas is not only looking at a dead end, but a Catch-22. Even as Qatar, its primary benefactor, is under a diplomatic barrage from its neighbors; the cries of despair are still emanating from Gaza, where residents are paying the price for Hamas’ isolation in the Arab world.

These are no longer the days of Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt, when Turkey and Qatar did as they pleased across the Arab world, and when Hamas leaders freely globe-trotted from capital to capital. Now, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is caged in; forced to wait until his Egyptian guard feels like letting him out.

Cairo has its own grudge against Hamas. It wants to see action first and foremost, such as the buffer zone being built along Gaza’s border with Egypt, intended to prevent terrorists from Islamic State’s Sinai branch from finding shelter inside Gaza under Hamas’ blind eye.

Thus, bereft of outside support and facing boiling distress at home, the Strip is convulsing from one crisis to the next. With so many people struggling to keep their heads barely above water (in the dark no less), Hamas is now even willing to consider waiving a white flag and handing over the keys to Mohammed Dahlan — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ detested political rival — who could very well be the only one capable of turning things around in Gaza.

Hamas hopes that Dahlan will suffice with the symbolic and powerless position of prime minister. But Dahlan is not a child, and with backing from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi — and perhaps with a wink and a nod from Israel, as well — he can pull the rug out from under Hamas.

The dilemma facing Israel, and perhaps Egypt as well, is whether to tighten the noose around Hamas’ neck or, conversely, turn on the power and ease the pressure in an effort to sidestep entanglement in Abbas’ own grudge match with Hamas. Abbas, for his part, is trying to kill three birds with one stone: Hamas, Dahlan, and Israel — trying to embarrass the latter by making it the focus of international criticism. Water and electricity are one thing; visas abroad for Haniyeh and his cohort another thing altogether.

Analyst: Qatar corrupting US’ national security ‘Deep State’

June 25, 2017

Analyst: Qatar corrupting US’ national security ‘Deep State’, Al Arabiya, June 25, 2017

Angelo Codevilla lists the ways that Qatar has been peddling its influence in the West and especially in the US, even corrupting many institutions of the US national security “Deep State”. (Shutterstock)

After President Trump praised Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies’ cutting of diplomatic and commercial contact with Qatar to force it to end its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, among other terrorists, an adviser to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told The New York Times that, while “The president is focused on ending terrorism; the secretary is focused on diplomacy that will return GCC focus to fighting terrorism.”

The US government – the President notwithstanding – far from helping to isolate Qatar, will focus on ending that isolation and hope that this will have a beneficial effect on fighting terrorism.

Tillerson himself, while admitting that Qatar was supporting terrorism, made clear that this support was less important than the relationship itself.

“Qatar is one of the many entities that have capitalized on the US foreign policy establishment’s predispositions to Progressive ideology and to meddling. Let us abstract from such crude influence-buying as the Qatari government’s gift of one million dollars to the Clinton Foundation on the occasion of Bill Clinton’s 65th birthday or the lucrative business connections,” the author says.

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In a detailed analysis published recently by Security Studies Group, author and expert Angelo Codevilla, who is Professor Emeritus of International Relations at Boston University and a fellow of the Claremont Institute, goes into the historic role of American institutions, including the State Department and the CIA, to forge relationships with terror groups in the mistaken belief that they can be weaned away from violence.

He traces this flawed thinking by these state institutions and other actors to the Arab Gulf states rift with Qatar.

Codevilla writes: “As he applauds Saudi Arabia’s and its Gulf allies’ attempt to force Qatar to stop supporting terrorists, even his secretary of State not so subtly echoes the Establishment’s chorus that this is a bad idea. No one denies that whoever supports terrorism should stop doing so, that the state of Qatar in fact does support terrorists with billions of dollars, facilities, and a television network, and that the Muslim Brotherhood carries out terrorist acts directly and through affiliates. Hence the question imposes itself: how do opinions so contrary to reality and to the common sense of ordinary people acquire such power in high places?”

The author then lists the ways that Qatar has been peddling its influence in the West and especially in the US, even corrupting many institutions of the US national security “Deep State”.

“The counterintuitive influence of Muslim Brotherhood/Qatar is yet another example of what Herman Kahn used to call ”educated incapacity” – the inability of a few, acquired only by sustained effort, to understand or even to perceive realities obvious to the unschooled many,” writes Codevilla.

He then exmines how that influence has taken hold. “It is a story of how the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideas and the Qatari state’s money have encouraged the professors, think-tankers and bureaucrats of America’s National Security State to foist upon America a peculiar set of values and priorities by indulging their own prejudices.”

Indentical articles

The author points out that as President Trump was about to command the State Department “to list the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates had already done so), Foreign Policy magazine and the Brookings Institution published nearly identical articles.”

After President Trump praised Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies’ cutting of diplomatic and commercial contact with Qatar to force it to end its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, among other terrorists, an adviser to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told The New York Times that, while “The president is focused on ending terrorism; the secretary is focused on diplomacy that will return GCC focus to fighting terrorism.”

In other words: The US government – the President notwithstanding – far from helping to isolate Qatar, will focus on ending that isolation and hope that this will have a beneficial effect on fighting terrorism.

Tillerson himself, while admitting that Qatar was supporting terrorism, made clear that this support was less important than the relationship itself.

Codevilla says that this was tantamount to saying: “We would rather support a Qatar that does not support terrorism. But we’ll support it even though it does.”

The answer also lies in the confluence between the Progressive prejudices of the American foreign policy establishment and the material reinforcement thereof by Muslim regimes, particularly that of Qatar.

The author painstakingly goes back to the post-World War II American security establishment and its moral compass, viewing view themselves on the side of the world’s emerging peoples, as “the true revolutionaries.”

Crude influence-buying

“Qatar is one of the many entities that have capitalized on the US foreign policy establishment’s predispositions to Progressive ideology and to meddling. Let us abstract from such crude influence-buying as the Qatari government’s gift of one million dollars to the Clinton Foundation on the occasion of Bill Clinton’s 65th birthday or the lucrative business connections,” the author says.

“Qatari operatives rightly regard these contributions, many deployed by their National Research Foundation, as having produced the political equivalent of strategically located military units,” says Codevilla.

There are American academic institutions in Qatar, and there are as well dozens of Qatari-supported foundations and countless scholars.

Codevilla concludes:“The al Thani family, which has ruled it for decades, has used the country’s great wealth to pursue influence abroad in ways that are inherently incompatible. Tamim, the current emir, has taken that foreign policy to a point where the incompatibilities may no longer coexist.”

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.

Will Trump make a peace breakthrough in 2018?

June 15, 2017

Will Trump make a peace breakthrough in 2018? DEBKAfile, June 15, 2017

(Lots of speculation about future events, but an interesting piece nevertheless. — DM)

US President Donald Trump’s goal of generating a rapid improvement of Israel’s ties with the Arab world, including the Palestinians in 2018, is not just up to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, but depends largely on how the Trump administration handles the continuing conflict between Qatar and its powerful Arab opponents, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Up until the end of this week, Trump had turned down the efforts of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis to resolve the Gulf conflict by diplomacy. Instead of heeding them, the president took the advice of the Saudi defense minister, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, who visited Washington this week. Tillerson and Mattis tried to arrange a conference between Saudi Arabia and Qatar so as to gradually ease the tensions, but Trump torpedoed the initiative by adopting Riyadh’s tough line.

A complex situation has arisen in the last few days regarding the US diplomacy for bringing Israel and the Palestinians aboard a peace process. The signs of movement on this score fluctuate between crises and some progress:

1. The Gaza electricity row falls under the first heading. Some circles contend that the crisis is artificial, since the Palestinian enclave is receiving as much power now as before. What is different is the new, intensified pressure by Egypt on the one hand and the Palestinian Authority on the other in the hope of toppling Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip or squeezing its leaders into toeing their lines. Neither Egyptian President Abel Fatteh El-Sisi nor the Palestinian Authority chairman has made headway. Hamas stubbornly refuses Cairo’s demand to sever ties with Qatar, while launching a counteroffensive to draw Israel into the dispute by making an empty threat of an “explosion.”

Israel responded with a counter-threat on Thursday, June 15: a proposal to transfer one hour’s worth of power from West Bank Palestinian towns to boost the supply to Gaza.

This maneuver kept the entire electricity issue in the court from it was tossed, Ramallah.

2. A shower of Israeli concessions is landing on the Palestinians judging by almost daily reports. Some are true and others false. But in sum, they are designed to impress President Trump with the Netanyahu government’s good will towards his peace initiative and readiness to take steps in its support. In fact, the prime minister is preparing the ground for the forthcoming arrival of Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s envoy on the Israel-Palestinian issue.

3. US Secretary of State Tillerson this week informed the Senate that the Palestinian Authority had agreed to  halt its payments to the families of Palestinian terrorists who were killed while carrying out attacks against Israelis. Palestinian officials no doubt let this be understood to demonstrate their willingness to go along with Trump’s peace initiative, without, however, have any real intention of following through.

4. Media reports and the findings of Arab research institutes add up to the following predictions on the fate of the negotiations generated by the Trump administration between Israel and the Arab world:

A. Some time during 2018, a showcase summit will be staged for Trump, Netanyahu and leading Arab rulers like Saudi King Salman, Egyptian President El-Sisi and the UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

They will publish a joint declaration signaling the phased normalization of relations with Israel by such preliminary steps as the exchange of economic and business delegations, the opening of trade offices and of Arab skies to Israeli commecial flights. None of these researchers is clear about the Palestinian role in this event.

B. Meanwhile, Israel will make concessions towards improving the lives of ordinary Palestinians, such as removing checkpoints, issuing building permits for Palestinian towns and more jobs in Israel.

C. Israel and the Palestinian Authority will expand their security cooperation. The Palestinians will be persuaded to cease their incitement against the Jewish State and stop payouts to the families of convicted Palestinian terrorists and other security offenders.

D. Direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will ensue, without preconditions on either side, and expand. with Arab governments sitting in.

E. At the end of a period of some years, this process will mature into a discussion of the core issues of the dispute, Palestinian statehood, future borders, settlements, Jerusalem and refugees.

In other words, the year 2018 will see the building of normal relations between Israel and Arab countries to be followed at a later date by the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. President Trump has clearly seized on relations with Riyadh, Cairo and Abu Dhabi as a lever for pushing Israel and the Palestinians into peace talks.

The idea is simple. Israel’s improved ties with the Arab world will resonate positively on Israeli-Palestinian relations. That appears to be Trump’s formula for peace. But there is a catch. It depends heavily on the US President maintaining good relations with the Arab world in the long term.