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October 21, 2016 / 19 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Doha’

Hamas PM Haniyeh Leaves Gaza on Hajj, With Trips to Qatar, Turkey

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Hamas de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh left Gaza on Monday with thousands of others, traveling through the Rafah crossing with Egypt on the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to the Saudi Arabian holy city of Mecca.

Egypt opened its sole crossing with Gaza for a three-day period to accommodate the Gaza residents who are traveling to Mecca for the annual Hajj.

However, according to the Hamas radio station the Gaza-based head of the terrorist organization is also making a couple of side trips while he is out of the region.

Haniyeh is taking the opportunity while he is abroad to visit Qatar and Turkey. There was no information on when he was expected to return from the trip, nor were there details on his agenda while in Doha and Ankara.

Hana Levi Julian

Al Jazeera Shuts Down American Cable Network

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

The Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network announced Wednesday it will shut down its Al Jazeera America cable network effective April 30.

The decision comes after a run of two and a half years on the air. But at the bottom line, the network was not a big sell to Americans.

“While Al Jazeera America built a loyal audience across the US and increasingly was recognized as an important new voice in television news, the economic landscape of the media environment has driven its strategic decision to wind down its operations and conclude its service,” the company said in a statement.

Al Jazeera America CEO Al Anstey further explained, “Our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace.”

The government of Qatar had originally purchased the Current TV cable news channel co-founded by former U.S. vice-president Al Gore for some $500 million in 2013, and it was from that base the network was launched.

As many as 700 staff members may lose their jobs, according to an unnamed source quoted by CNN. The NewsGuild of New York is the union representing 46 of the digital journalists at Al Jazeera America; NGNY was told by the network that it employs 291 staff members, according to a report by USA Today. The newspaper cited low ratings, operational problems and a lack of advertisers as the main reasons for the network’s failure to thrive.

Network executives said in a statement on the website from Doha that the company plans to “expand its existing international digital services to broaden its multi-platform presence” in the U.S.

Al Jazeera is hoping for better success on the Internet, where “U.S. and non U.S. consumers alike” can access its programming via “mobile devices for news and information…. journalism and content, wherever and whenever they want.”

Al Jazeera already has a considerable presence on the Internet, together with its Middle Eastern satellite television network. It is not clear whether the network would send its current Doha programming to the U.S., or continue the American cable network programming, via the Internet.

Hana Levi Julian

Kerry Skips over Israel in Middle East Trip

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

When President Barack Obama says Israel his back, does he mean he is turning his back?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is conveniently skipping over America’s closest ally this week during a trip that will take him to neighboring Egypt as well as Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The reason or skipping over Israel is obvious: The Obama administration’s single-minded objective right now is to make sure Congress does not reject “ObamaDeal” with a veto-proof majority.

President Obama’s declaration that he wants an “honest discussion” on the controversial agreement with Iran has its limits. After Kerry was told by Republican senators last week that he was “fleeced” and “bamboozled” by Iran, he does not want to walk into lion’s den.

But the State Dept., of course, has a different version of why Kerry is not stopping over Israel.

Spokesman John Kirby explained to nosy reporters at Monday’s daily press briefing:

It’s just not part of the parameters for this trip. It’s not – it wasn’t a deliberate decision not to go. There’s an awful lot to cover in eight days, as you can see. It’s literally – it’s an around-the-world trip.

He has been in touch with Prime Minister Netanyahu many, many times over the last several weeks in terms of discussing the deal and the parameters of it. So it’s not as if we aren’t in constant communication with Israeli counterparts about this.

The last call that I see to the Prime Minister took place on Thursday the 16th of July.

A journalist pointed out that was more than week ago, bur Kirby maintained, “Yeah, but that’s not that long ago.”

“Constant communication” is subjective.

The truth is that Kerry and Prime Minister Netanyahu do not have much to talk about. They can argue until they are blue in the face, but it is not going to get anyone anywhere, even though it would be a boon for the media.

Kerry may not find Egypt much friendlier, but at least he can count on Cairo not enabling the freedom of expression and speech that he doesn’t like in Israel, unless it is in his favor.

He will be in Cairo on Sunday for a session of the U.S.-Egypt Strategic Dialogue, a forum that “reaffirms the United States’ longstanding and enduring partnership with Egypt,” in the words of the State Dept.

That is the same phrase the United States uses for all of its wonderful friends, such as Israel.

On Monday, Kerry will meet with Gulf States officials in Doha, where Saudi Arabia will take the lead to lecture him in private what Netanyahu says in public: The deal with Iran is suicidal, and the war on the Islamic State (ISIS) needs to be more aggressive.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Qatar Buying Into Formula One

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Qatar is joining forces with a venture capital firm to buy in to famed race car sports venue, Formula One.

Qatar’s Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiya is a vice-president of the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) and the governing body for Formula One, the FIA.

RSE Ventures, which already owns the Miami Dolphins NFL team, is now joining forces with Doha to buy a controlling stake in F1. The deal for the 35.5 percent stake is allegedly worth $7 to $8 billion, according to a source quoted by Reuters on Tuesday.

The commercial side of F1 is run by 84-year-old British billionaire Bernie Ecclestone, a 40-year deal meister in the sport.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Qatar Expels Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Leadership

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

Qatar is reportedly attempting to heal its strained relations with Egypt and others in the region by expelling some members of the Muslim Brotherhood – the organization that spawned Hamas and other terrorist organizations — who have made their home base in Doha since being kicked out of Cairo.

The secretary-general of the organization, Mahmoud Hussein, is among those who were asked by the monarchy to leave. Also on the list were former Egyptian minister Amr Darrag, and cleric Wagdi Ghoneim, according to the Rassad news agency, which said the group is seeking another headquarters in exile, possibly Turkey.

Ambassadors from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates all were recalled from Qatar by their governments in June to protest Doha’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and its associated terror groups. All view the organization to be a threat to the region, and to their nations individually as well.

Turkey, however, has long been a firm supporter of the group and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been vocal in his praise for Gaza and its Hamas rulers.

Egypt outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood after repeated violent riots following the coup that deposed former President Mohammed Morsi, backed by the group.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Wanted: Ally for Israel in Cairo Talks

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Israel needs an ally as it faces an array of representatives who hope to bring about a premature cease fire with Hamas terrorists intent on wiping out the Jewish State.

Hamas has no qualms about using any form of human or other innnocent creature as a shield for its weapons in attacking Israeli civilians and soldiers. Nor has its ability to launch a constant barrage of short and medium-range rocket and missile fire been significantly impaired thus far — a lethal threat to the millions of Israeli men, women and children who are spending more time in their bomb shelters than outside of them this summer.

Nevertheless, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived Monday in Cairo with the announced intent to help world leaders re-establish the November 2012 truce between Israel and Hamas terrorists.

Noah Pollack’s Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) explained the issue: “Israel does not need a mediator. Israel needs an ally. Pressuring Israel to agree to a cease fire that rescues Hamas from defeat and leaves it in possession of its missiles, tunnels, and terror infrastructure is foolish and wrong. If President [Barack] Obama and Secretary [John} Kerry want to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East, they should support Israel and its campaign to end the terror threat from Gaza.”

But instead, shortly after heading into a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Kerry announced the U.S. will send $47 million in ‘humanitarian aid’ to Gaza, of which $15 million is earmarked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) there.

UNRWA, incidentally, which purports to be scrupulously neutral in its dealings in Gaza, “discovered” 20 missiles at one of its schools in the town of Rafah, located on the border of Gaza and Egypt a few days ago during a routine inspection by international staff. The missiles were quietly handed over to the Hamas terrorist organization.

Kerry’s aides added a statement warning that it would be “difficult” to achieve an immediate and lasting cease fire – but that he hopes to make progress in the next few days to reach a temporary pause.

Israel agreed to two humanitarian cease fires since the start of Operation Protective Edge, including one requested by the International Committee for the Red Cross on behalf of Hamas itself. Hamas violated them both, firing mortar shells and rockets at Israeli civilians during the “pause” each time. Israel held its fire nevertheless; but should it now?

What kind of ally aids an enemy to reach a cease fire in which it can attack a friend?

Meanwhile, Hamas is insisting that Qatar and Turkey be allowed at the table to represent its interests in talks with Egypt, which is mediating the negotiations.

Qatar – a generous fiscal patron of Hamas — recently purchased $11 billion in military weapons and hardware from the Obama administration. In whose hands will those weapons eventually land?

In the first week of June, Qatar pledged $60 million to help pay the salaries of Gaza workers in the Palestinian Authority unity government. The money was to be transferred to the PUG offices in Ramallah in three monthly payments of $20 million each, according to Qatari government spokesperson Ihab Bseiso. The Qatari government has sent funds to Hamas before, even via charitable organizations in the United States. The Al Jazeera television network has also been described in a February 2006 State Department cable leaked by Wiki Leaks as a “big friend of Hamas.” Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal maintains an office in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

Turkey is also no friend of Israel at this point and appears to be coordinating its moves with Qatar, and possibly with Iran as well, with whom it has strong ties.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, himself a sympathizer with radical Islamists, is closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and a longtime supporter of Hamas in Gaza. He has brought Turkey much closer to Tehran and successfully sabotaged diplomatic ties with Israel in the years he has served as prime minister, but now faces a fight to stay in his job. Turkey goes to the polls on August 10 to elect a president who will lead the nation alone, instead of the current dual ‘prime minister-president’ system. Erdogan needs a reason to ‘wow’ his constituents and firm up his AKP electoral base, comprised of Islamist voters. There are two competitors for the presidency; one a secularist, the other a moderate Muslim.

Rachel Levy

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.

Daniel Pipes

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/the-lions-den-daniel-pipes/obamas-foreign-fiasco/2013/08/21/

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