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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Doha’

Obama’s Foreign Fiasco

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Originally published at Daniel Pipes.

It’s a privilege to be an American who works on foreign policy, as I have done since the late 1970s, participating in a small way in the grand project of finding my country’s place in the world. But now, under Barack Obama, decisions made in Washington have dramatically shrunk in importance. It’s unsettling and dismaying. And no longer a privilege.

Whether during the structured Cold War or the chaotic two decades that followed, America’s economic size, technological edge, military prowess, and basic decency meant that even in its inactivity, the U.S. government counted as much or more in world developments than any other state. Sniffles in Washington translated into influenza elsewhere.

Weak and largely indifferent presidents like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton mattered despite themselves, for example in the Iranian revolution of 1978-79 or the Arab-Israeli conflict in the 1990s. Strong and active presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush had greater impact yet, speeding up the Soviet collapse or invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

But now, with Barack Obama, the United States has slid into shocking irrelevance in the Middle East, the world’s most turbulent region. Inconstancy, incompetence, and inaction have rendered the Obama administration impotent. In the foreign policy arena, Obama acts as though he would rather be the prime minister of Belgium, a small country that usually copies the decisions of its larger neighbors when casting votes at the United Nations or preening morally about distant troubles. Belgians naturally “lead from behind,” to use the famed phrase emanating from Obama’s White House.

Obama's 2009 speech in Cairo was a very long time ago.

Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo was a very long time ago.

Qatar (with a national population of 225,000) has an arguably greater impact on current events than the 1,400-times-larger United States (population: 314 million). Note how Obama these days takes a back seat to the emirs of Doha: They take the lead supplying arms to the Libyan rebels, he follows. They actively help the rebels in Syria, he dithers. They provide billions to the new leadership in Egypt, he stumbles over himself. They unreservedly back Hamas in Gaza, he pursues delusions of an Israeli-Palestinian “peace process.” Toward this end, the U.S. secretary of state made six trips in four months to Israel and the Palestinian territories in pursuit of a diplomatic initiative that almost no one believes will end the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Doha, now more influential than Washington in the Middle East.

Doha, now more influential than Washington in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the U.S. secretary of defense called Egyptian leader Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi 17 times in conversations lasting 60-90 minutes, yet failed in his pleas that Sisi desist from using force against the Muslim Brotherhood. More striking yet, Sisi apparently refused to take a phone call from Obama. The $1.5 billion in annual U.S. aid to Egypt suddenly looks paltry in comparison to the $12 billion from three Persian Gulf countries, with promises to make up for any Western cuts in aid. Both sides in Egypt’s deep political divide accuse Obama of favoring the other and execrate his name. As dozens of Coptic churches burned, he played six rounds of golf. Ironically, Egypt is where, four long years ago, Obama delivered a major speech repudiating George W. Bush policies with seeming triumph.

Obama’s ambitions lie elsewhere – in augmenting the role of government within the United States, as epitomized by Obamacare. Accordingly, he treats foreign policy as an afterthought, an unwelcome burden, and something to dispatch before returning to juicier matters. He oversees withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan with little concern for what follows. His unique foreign policy accomplishment, trumpeted ad nauseam, was the execution of Osama bin Laden.

So far, the price to American interests for Obama’s ineptitude has not been high. But that could change quickly. Most worrisome, Iran could soon achieve nuclear breakout and start to throw its newfound weight around, if not to deploy its brand-new weapons. The new regime in Egypt could revert to its earlier anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism; already, important elements in Egypt are calling for rejection of U.S. aid and termination of the peace treaty with Israel.

As an American who sees his country as a force for good, these developments are painful and scary. The world needs an active, thoughtful, and assertive United States. The historian Walter A. McDougall rightly states that “The creation of the United States of America is the central event of the past four hundred years” and its civilization “perturbs the trajectories of all other civilizations just by existing.” Well not so much perturbation these days; may the dismal present be brief in duration.

Taliban Pulls a Fast One in Doha, Claiming Rebirth of Califate, Humiliating Karzai

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Day One, dealing with the Taliban as if it is just another player on the world stage.

Whoops.

On Tuesday, June 18, the Taliban and the United States were set to engage in historic peace talks in Doha, Qatar, the goal of which is to begin to wind down the war that has been dragging on in Afghanistan.  The U.S. is on the threshold of withdrawing from the region. The goal is to have Afghanistan and the Taliban work things out nicely together.

But the ceremonial opening of the office in Doha by the Taliban, was to have announced “the political office of the Taliban in Doha,” as had been agreed – or so the U.S. and Afghanistan had understood.  Instead, it  featured a large poster reading “the opening of the political office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in Doha.”

The difference is huge – the name on the poster is what the Taliban called Afghanistan during the era it was in control, between 1996 and 2001, and was popularly understood by al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorists to have been the nascent rebirth of the Global Califate.

In the State Department’s daily press briefing on Wednesday, this was the first item discussed by the Spokesperson, Jen Psaki.  She explained that Secretary of State John Kerry had spoken with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who had immediately denounced the Taliban’s move as a deliberate provocation.

The Qatari government issued a statement clarifying that the name of the office is the Political Office of the Afghan Taliban and had the sign with the incorrect name in front of the door taken down.

Nonetheless, the Afghan government issued a statement suspending the U.S. bilateral security talks because of the Taliban’s efforts to portray itself as, once again, a sovereign nation within Afghanistan.

In addition, feelings were ruffled in Kabul because the initial talks in Doha were scheduled to take place between the U.S. and the Taliban, rather than between Karzai and the Taliban.

The press conference became testy as media representatives suggested that what happened is that the U.S. is in a hurry to get out of Afghanistan, it has failed to ensure that the Afghan government is situated to assume control of the situation, and that what had originall been a precondition for talks – the Taliban agreeing to stop terrorism and to cut ties with al Qaeda, suddenly became a future goal.

 

 

Rep: Arab League Will Support PA if Israel Halts Tax Payments

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says Arab nations will pay the Palestinian Authority  $100 million a month if Israel stops monthly tax payments to the group in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.

Erekat made the statements on Saturday in Doha, Qatar during a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers.

Despite the statement of support, the overwhelming majority of aid to the Palestinian Authority comes from the United States, the European Union, and other Western organizations and donors.  Only 22 percent of the payments received in 2010 to the PA came from Arab donors.

MK Danon: Stop Arab MKs from Joining Qatar Anti-Israel Conference

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Ma’ariv reported that MK Danny Danon (Likud) requested that the Knesset Ethics Committee ban Arab MKs from going to the “International Conference for the Defense of Occupied Jerusalem,” to be held in Doha, Qatar next week.

“The conference will include many haters of Israel and therefore the Arab MKs are guaranteed front row seats,” Danon stressed. “The State of Israel should defend itself, and not allow those who take advantage of democracy to attack her from the inside.”

Danon said the Arab MKs are going the way of terror-supporter, former MK Azmi Bishara, and the Knesset must forbid them to participate in forums that have the potential for planning anti-Israel initiatives.

The Qatar News Agency reported that some 350 representatives from Arab, Islamic and other countries will discuss “the legal status of Jerusalem before and after the Israeli  occupation, the reality and the future of Jerusalem under occupation, and the status of the holy places under international law.”

The Qatar Tribune reported that Arab League Assistant Secretary-General for Palestine and the Occupied Arab Territories’ Affairs Ambassador Mohamed Subeih on Thursday said he was confident of the success of the International Conference for the Defence of Al Quds (Jerusalem), scheduled to kick off in Doha on Sunday.

Subeih, who arrived in Doha on Thursday as the head of a high-profile delegation of the Arab League general secretariat to prepare for the conference, said that the Palestinian issue in general, and the issue of Al Quds in particular, are at the top of Qatari policy agenda.

“Preparation for the conference began a long time ago. Qatar and the Arab League general secretariat headquarters constantly consulted each other and coordinated their efforts to ensure success of the conference. It will help provide real support to the city of Al Quds”, he said, adding, “This has been a pledge on part of Qatar and its policy.” “The large number of people participating in the conference demonstrates the interest in the Al Quds issue. The participants realise the gravity of the legal violations, forgery and counterfeiting constantly done by the Israeli occupiers,” Subeih said.

The conference will focus on the topics of “Jerusalem and International Law,” “History of Jerusalem,” “Jerusalem and Settlements,” “Israeli Violations and Jerusalem and Civil Society Organizations.”

Jerusalem and International Law will see discussions on the legal status of Jerusalem before and after the Israeli occupation, the reality and the future of Jerusalem under occupation and the status of the holy places under international law.

Prime Minister to Abbas: Peace With Hamas or Peace With Israel

Monday, February 6th, 2012

In light of a reconciliation between the militant anti-Israel terror group Hamas and the Western-backed Fatah, Prime Minister of Israel Binyamin Netanyahu issued a statement warning that steps by the Palestinian Authority to implement the new agreement will mean the end of peace talks with Israel.

The following is the “Special Statement by Prime Minister Netanyahu” publicized by the Government Press Office (GPO):

In recent weeks, I and several world leaders have made serious efforts to advance peace. 

If President Abbas moves to implement what was signed today in Doha, he will abandon the path of peace and join forces with the enemies of peace.

Hamas is an enemy of peace. It’s an Iranian-backed terror organization committed to Israel’s destruction. It has not accepted the minimal conditions set by the international community:

• It refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

• It refuses to honor the signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

• It refuses to abandon terrorism.

• Indeed, it continues to arm itself for even deadlier terrorism. 

President Abbas, you can’t have it both ways. It’s either a pact with Hamas or peace with Israel. It’s one or the other. You can’t have them both.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority returned to land-based negotiations at the behest of the United States in early January in Jordan.  Talks were often tense, and parties on both sides agreed that little was accomplished toward resolving conflicts.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/prime-minister-to-abbas-peace-with-hamas-or-peace-with-israel/2012/02/06/

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