Thursday, March 13, 2014

Qatar

The new Emir is stirring up a shit-storm. It is unfortunate that all these wealthiest countries do not know of a way to gain stature except by stabbing their friends in the back (it is a different matter that their friends are not loveable). Why not for example invest in science and technology and have a plan to compete with Israel (bring in foreigners to help you climb the ladder quickly). Instead what we have is massive stadiums designed like lady bits. 

That said one can sort of admire Qatar playing on so many sides all at once. They host US troops and also the man who wants Americans pushed off into the sea. They host the BBC of the mid-east (Al Jazeera) known for speaking its mind (but not on Qatari affairs). Well played.

....
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the emir of Qatar, met secretly in Kuwait last month with foreign ministers from five neighboring countries, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. According to two people with direct knowledge of this meeting, the five foreign ministers had a simple message for the emir: Cut it out -- we know what you’re doing.

Qatar is a tiny country -- a mole on the back of Saudi Arabia -- yet one that makes its presence felt in disproportionate and often destructive ways. It hosts the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command, but also provides material support to the Muslim Brotherhood, to Hamas (the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood), and to radical Sunni outfits in Syria, among others. 

After a few encouraging signals, the Qataris have returned to form, and even expanded their portfolio of meddling in regional uprisings, providing support to Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The support for the Houthis was too much for Saudi Arabia, which engineered the ultimatum delivered last month.

The reaction of the emir was predictable: He denied everything, according to my sources. Qatar is not supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, not supporting the al-Qaeda-influenced Nusra Front in Syria and not supporting the Houthis. The foreign ministers provided the emir with direct evidence, but the denials continued until the meeting broke up.

After this meeting, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the U.A.E. all recalled their ambassadors from Qatar, commencing a new stage in this Gulf cold war. Qatar has shown no sign that it is willing to stop its support for radical groups; no sign that it will stop using its television network, Al Jazeera, to cause problems for its neighbors (while scrupulously avoiding criticizing Qatar itself, of course); and no sign that it will prevent the region’s most important Sunni cleric, the radical and radically dyspeptic Yusuf al-Qaradawi, from using Qatar as a base to foment outrage on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere.

regards