The Odd Man Out In The Middle East: The Shifting Role Of "Puppetmaster" Qatar
Qatar, the world's richest nation per capita (and awkward home of US central command in The Middle East), has used its wealth to fund Hamas in the Gaza Strip, bankrolls (as we detailed here) Islamists fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, and backed the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt - before he was deposed. As Bloomberg reports, they have additionally let other extremist groups raise money in Qatar, according to the U.S. Treasury Department - all in an effort to 'support' the gas pipelines that the tiny nation needs to maintain its uber-wealth. Qatar’s support for militants has angered its neighboring conservative monarchies... so, it is an intriguing shift that now, as Bloomberg reports, finds the terrorist-funding-nation mediating between Israel and Hamas to end the Gaza conflict.
Sadly, when it comes to the US (and of course Israel), it does have a very hidden agenda: one that involves lying to its people about what any future intervention is all about, and the fabrication of narrative about chemical weapons and a bloody regime hell bent on massacring every man, woman and child from the "brave resistance." What they all fail to mention is that all such "rebels" are merely paid for mercenaries of the Qatari emir, whose sole interest is to accrue even more wealth even if it means the deaths of thousands of Syrians in the process.
A bigger read through of the events in Syria reveals an even more complicated web: one that has Qatar facing off against Syria, with both using Syria as a pawn in a great natural resource chess game, and with Israel and the US both on the side of the petrodollars, while Russia and to a lesser extent China, form the counterbalancing axis and refuse to permit a wholesale overthrow of the local government which would unlock even more geopolitical leverage for the gulf states.
Qatar funds and arms Islamists fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad and bankrolls Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
It let other extremist groups raise money in Qatar, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
Qatar backed the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, before the Egyptian military deposed that nation’s first democratically elected leader and declared the Muslim Brotherhood illegal.
Qatar, which backed rebels in Libya and Syria and supported an Islamist government in Egypt, is now mediating between Israel and Hamas to end the Gaza conflict.
Its role may signal a foreign policy shift as Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani grapples with controversy over his country’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup. Seeking an agreement in Gaza, where more than 1,900 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have died, returns Qatar to its historically neutral role in conflicts from Darfur to Lebanon.
Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah this month joined Turkey in helping U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry negotiate a cease-fire between Hamas, the Palestinian group that governs the Gaza Strip, and Israel. With that truce extended yesterday, Qatar is using its links to Hamas to be a crucial go-between in talks over a longer term accord, said Andreas Krieg, a lecturer at King’s College London in Qatar.
Is an interesting development.
Just last month, when Qatar tried to broker a ceasefire in Gaza, the effort was angrily slapped down by Egypt and Israel, who thought the Qataris were trying to help Hamas win concessions through violence.
“Hamas has established an intimate relationship with Qatar,” Krieg said in an e-mail. “Qatar remains the informal channel of communication between the Hamas leadership and the U.S. and Israel.”
“Qatar has taken advantage of the political vacuum in Mideast peacemaking to take an important and much-needed role,” Jim Krane, a Gulf and energy research fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute, said in an Aug. 5 e-mail. “There are plenty of folks clamoring for the parties to stop fighting, but few willing to mediate.”
But has it now bitten off more than it can chew?
“Today Qatar is on the defensive. They made a huge gamble and lost with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt,” says Emile Hokayem, a senior fellow at the Bahrain center of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the London think tank. “Perhaps Islam will shape the region some day, and the bet will pay off. But in the short and medium term, the powerful state actors don’t see it that way and are ready to counter Qatar.”
Petrodollar politics are never simple.
“We feel we have been on the right side of history,” Foreign Minister al-Attiyah said in his opinion piece. “History will judge our actions.”
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