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Posts Tagged ‘Qatar’

Qatar Strengthening Hamas in Gaza

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

The U.S. Administration has sought to downplay the significance of this week’s visit to the Gaza Strip by the Emir of Qatar, Hamad al-Thani.

“We have seen the reports that Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa visits Gaza today on a humanitarian mission,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. “We share Qatar’s deep concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people, including those residing in Gaza.”

Many Palestinians, especially the Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria -ed.], do not share the U.S. Administration’s position regarding the emir’s visit.

Palestinian Authority leaders do not see the visit as a “humanitarian mission,” but as an attempt to strengthen Hamas.

In fact, the high-profile visit of the emir and his wife to the Gaza Strip was anything but a “humanitarian mission.”

This was a visit that has political and economic implications, not only for the Palestinians, but for the entire region as well.

True, the emir promised to invest $400 million in various projects in the Gaza Strip. It remains to be seen if the Qatari ruler will fulfill his promise.

The timing of the visit raises many questions and sheds light as to the emir’s true motives.

Qatar has always been supportive not only of Hamas, but Muslim Brotherhood and many jihadi organizations.

If Qatar really had “deep concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people,” where was the emir during the past seven years?

As the emir himself pointed out during the visit, it was the so-called Arab Spring — which has seen the rise of Islamists to power in a number of Arab countries over the past two years – that paved the way for his visit to the Gaza Strip.

“Were it not for the Egyptian revolution and President Mohamed Morsi,” the emir said, “the visit would not have taken place.”

The emir came to the Gaza Strip to offer not only financial aid to Hamas, but also moral and political backing. The visit, the first of its kind by a head of state to the Gaza Strip since Hamas seized control over the area in 2007, was aimed at helping the Islamist movement break the state of isolation in which it has been since then.

The emir did not come to the Gaza Strip to try to persuade Hamas to abandon terror and recognize Israel’s right to exist. Nor did he come to the Gaza Strip to tell Hamas to endorse democracy and stop its oppressive measures against Palestinians, particularly women.

The emir’s visit is a huge diplomatic victory for Hamas and a severe blow to moderate Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority.

Palestinian leaders in the West Bank were quick to express deep disappointment with the emir’s visit, rightly arguing that it would only enhance Hamas’s standing and empower the radical camp among the Palestinians.

The emir’s visit also means that the Gaza Strip has become a separate Palestinian entity that has no link to the West Bank’s Palestinian Authority, and which is capable of conducting its running its own economy and foreign policy.

The visit has actually solidified the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, turning Abbas’s effort to establish an independent Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines into a fantasy; if he tried to establish a Palestinian state on the West Bank alone, would be accused of “abandoning” the dream of creating a full, united, Palestinian state, and of dividing Palestine into two states.

Finally, the emir’s visit to the Gaza Strip also serves Qatar’s wish of becoming a major player in the region as well as in the Israeli-Arab conflict. Syria, Iran and Egypt, countries which once used to have enormous influence over Hamas, have been pushed aside by Qatar’s ruler and his promise of big checks.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Hamas PM: Qatar Emir Visit Breaks Gaza Siege

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that Qatar’s emir’s Tuesday’s visit to the Gaza Strip was helping to lift Israel’s blockade, the Ma’an news agency reports.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was the first head of state to enter Gaza since Hams took over, back in 1999.

Analysts see the visit as an attempt by the emir to use his leverage with Western capitals to help rehabilitate Hamas in Western eyes, and move them into mainstream politics.

The tiny Gulf emirate, whose native population is only about the same size as that of the Gaza Strip, hosts one of the biggest US bases in the region. At the same time, it was a major supporter of Islamist groups during the “Arab Spring.” Qatar owns the Al Jazeera television network.

“You are today, by this visit, declaring the breaking of the unjust blockade,” Haniyeh told the Qatari leader in a speech at the site of a new town to be built with Gulf money.

“Today we declare victory against the blockade through this historic visit,” he said. “We say thank you, Emir, thank you Qatar for this noble Arab stance … Hail to the blood of martyrs which brought us to this moment.”

Embarking on what was a state visit in all but name, Sheikh al-Thani and his wife Sheikha Mozah crossed from Egypt at the head of a large delegation, to be greeted by Haniyeh and an honor guard.

Thousands of Palestinians lined his route, waving Palestinian and Qatari flags as the convoy with the sheikh in a black Mercedes limousine bumped along the rutted main highway that Qatar has promised to rebuild.

Qatar has called the visit a humanitarian gesture, to inaugurate reconstruction projects financed by the emirate. After initially earmarking $250 million for the schemes, a smiling Haniyeh announced the fund now stood at $400 million.

Haniyeh said the emir had agreed to fund additional projects and to increase funding of existing plans.

Qatar will build a $25 million city for released prisoners, and has increased its funding for another new city in the Gaza Strip by $15 million, he said.

The Gaza premier said Qatar had also agreed to grant $8 million to build a youth rehabilitation center and to donate an extra $13 million to a hospital so patients could be treated in Gaza rather than traveling abroad.

Israel said it was “astounding” that Qatar, a US-allied Gulf state whose oil and gas permit it to punch way above its diplomatic weight, would take sides in the Palestinian dispute and endorse Hamas, branded as terrorists in the West.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the emir, who has met Israeli leaders but not visited the Palestinian Authority of Abbas and his secular Fatah movement in the West Bank, had “never dignified the PA with a visit”.

“No one understands why he would fund an organization which has become notorious with committing suicide bombings and firing rockets on civilians. By hugging Hamas, the Emir of Qatar is really someone who has thrown peace under the bus,” Palmor said.

The Gaza Strip is all but cut off from the world, under blockade by Israel and Egypt by land and sea.

Sheikh Hamad has sought to mediate between Hamas and Fatah in the past, to end the divisions but analysts say there is for now no prospect of reconciliation between the two factions.

‘IDF Officers to Train Saad Hariri’s Men against Hezbolla in Jordan’

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

According to the Lebanese newspaper Al Diyar, which enjoys close ties to Hezbollah and the Syrian government, Israel has agreed to train soldiers affiliated with former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is currently in exile, preparing them to fight against the Hezbollah  According to the report, during his visit to Qatar, Hariri met with Vice Foreign Minister Dani Ayalon and a representative of the Mossad with the backing of the Qatar government and Qatar’s Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani. They agreed on establishing a training camp in Jordan, with Arabic speaking Israeli officers.

The article stated that some 500 fighters will be trained each month, with the goal of reaching 20,000 soldiers after two years. A series of monthly coordination meetings was agreed on at that meeting as well.

Saad Hariri, a favorite of the Saudis and the West, was ousted from his office of Lebanon’s prime minister in January, 2011. This took place after Hezbollah and its partners in parliament broke away from the government and overthrew Hariri following an international court’s decision to indict Hezbollah for the murder of his father, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik el Hariri. Following the report’s publication and the arrest warrants issued against Hezbollah activists, Hariri escaped to Saudi Arabia, fearing an assassination attempt against him.

Syria: Is the Proposed Cure Worse than the Status Quo?

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012
Originally published at Rubin Reports
The Syrian civil war has crossed a red line. Some people may think this happened a few weeks or months ago but at any rate it is clearly true now. The prospects for an Islamist (Muslim Brotherhood, Salafist, and Jihadist) takeover have risen high enough that it is better to freeze Western intervention. In other words, the West should not do more to aid the rebellion and should consider stopping its current efforts in that direction.
Here is a fact so shocking that it should be the centerpiece of any discussion over Syria. It is so important I’m going to put it in bold:
The Obama Administration is backing (Islamist) Turkey as the distributor of weapons supplied by (opportunistically pro-Islamist) Qatar.  Turkey and Qatar want to give the Muslim Brotherhood a monopoly over receiving weapons even though most of the rebels are non- and even anti-Islamist. As this happens, the Obama Administration is thus working directly to install a revolutionary Islamist regime in Syria that will disrupt the region, help shred, U.S. interests, and battle with Israel for decades to come. A number of Republican senators see no problem with this strategy. Actually, it’s even worse.  Due to historical developments, the Syrian Brotherhood is more radical than its Egyptian counterpart. To maintain illegality under President Husni Mubarak, for decades the Egyptian Brotherhood had to restrain itself. Those who wanted violent revolution and faster action left to form separate Salafist groups. The Egyptian Brotherhood today sometimes cooperates with these groups–whose party finished second in the parliamentary elections–but they are also rivals.In Syria, however, the underground Brotherhood had no incentive to hold back. Consequently, while there are certainly a lot of non-Brotherhood Salafists, there are also a large proportion of really violent, impatient, open extremists in the Syrian Brotherhood. To do a simple analogy, the Syrian Brotherhood is more like Hamas than those slick Brotherhood leaders in Cairo who care to fool the West with their honeyed words. A Brotherhood-run Syria, with Salafists egging on the regime, would be an instant nightmare.
And so Western and especially American policy is doing tremendous harm: not by helping the “rebels” but by working with Turkey and Qatar to help the most anti-Western, anti-American, antisemitic, extremist rebels, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Jihadists from smaller groups all the way up to al-Qaida. If you are interested in the details read this remarkable report by Ammar Abuhamid, the best-informed and very honest Syrian analyst on what’s going on.
In brief, there is a massive battle on the opposition side to see who emerges as the greater power–the Islamists or the anti-Islamists ( defected army officers who are nationalists; moderate Sunni Muslims from the urban middle class; conservative, traditionalist Sunni Muslims who hate the Brotherhood; Kurdish nationalists; and even local, non-ideological warlords. And the West is supporting the wrong side.
By the way, the Saudis have a slightly different perspective. On one hand, they want a Sunni-dominated regime in Syria that will be anti-Iran and friendly to Saudi Arabia. They wouldn’t mind if it was heavily Islamic and since the main priority is destroying Iran’s number-one Arab ally, the Saudis will help the Muslim Brotherhood and various smaller Jihadist groups. But they prefer a regime that isn’t going to subvert them and create regional instability. In Iraq the Saudis supported Sunni groups that were affiliated with al-Qaida to beat the hated Shia. In Lebanon, the Saudis support moderate Sunni forces against pro-Iran Hizballah.
If there was U.S. leadership, a U.S.-Saudi partnership could promote a combination of Syrian moderate Sunnis and defected officers plus some sleazy–but non-Islamist–warlords.  The American president would tell the Saudis–as well as Qatar and Turkey–that it regarded arming small Jihadist groups and the Brotherhood as an unfriendly act. That is not happening.What is happening is that the Turkish regime and Qatar want a radical Islamist Syria and are getting the Obama Administration’s help in bringing it about, an outcome supplemented by Saudi aid to America’s enemies.
Yet now there are clearly different groups in the opposition, as Abuhamid explains in detail. To give one example, the powerful Syria Martyrs’ Brigade is traditionalist but not Islamist, while the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Syria tells you its goal in its name. To compile a list of groups that will and will not get arms would be an easy task for the U.S. government.

Another issue that is being mishandled is that of Syria’s Kurds. The easiest thing the West could do would be to help Syria’s Kurds who just want autonomy, not to be subject to the current directorship, radical Arab nationalists, or Islamists. This would make the Kurds of Iraq, American allies, very happy. But Obama won’t do that because it would make Islamist-ruled Turkey, an enemy of America that President Barack Obama loves more than any other country in the region, very unhappy and so probably won’t happen.

I’m very sorry to write this article for two reasons:
–The Syrians have suffered so much it is understandable that one should help end this civil war as soon as possible and get rid of the current anti-American and pro-Iran dictatorship.
–It would be easy to have a good policy toward Syria: funneling help to the non- or anti-Islamist rebel forces. Yet the United States has not made this distinction under Obama and neither the mass media nor the politicians even seem to be aware of this issue. Its help often goes to radical anti-American who want to impose another dictatorship on Syria. The Turks want a Muslim Brotherhood government; the Qataris do, too. The Saudis want to get rid of the current regime and replace it with a Sunni, anti-Iran one. With proper U.S. leadership and coordination the Saudis might play a constructive role but given Obama’s policy they will mainly just support Sunni Islamists as they did in Iraq.As if to outdo America, the French government is actually supporting for Syria’s leader a loudmouth former regime insider of no proven talent who is a radical Arab nationalist and someone who the rebels loathe.

Israeli Military Intel Warns Of Impending Crises

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

JERUSALEM – According to Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Israel’s Military Intelligence head, the Jewish state will face a more unstable and Islamist environment than in previous times. This is being fueled by the unchecked rise of radical Islam, and could force Israel into unwanted conflicts.

Kochavi outlined his ominous assessment of Israel’s tactical position in the Middle East during his presentation of Military Intelligence’s annual evaluation. His briefing was offered to IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and top army, air force and naval commanders. “It will be an environment that deals with a series of crises, regional and internal, which raises the level of sensitivity of all the players, and which could lead, without prior warning, to an eruption,” said Kochavi.

The general said that Iran is deliberately using its position as host of the Nonaligned Movement gathering in Tehran to justify its nuclear program and stall any diplomatic attempt by the UN to stop them from producing an atomic bomb, which would almost certainly destabilize the entire Middle East and an action that could provoke a military strike by Israel or the United States.

Against the backdrop of Kochavi’s report, Israel and the U.S. are conducting a series of behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts to forge new alliances in the region, with the goal of staving off an attack on Israeli and American interests in the Middle East.

Sources report that the semi-autonomous Kurdish government in northern Iraq is working with high-ranking Israeli government officials to help create an internationally recognized Kurdish national entity, one that would also encompass swaths of Turkey and Syria.

Turkey’s government currently treats the Kurds as enemy aliens within their midst. The Syrian Kurds have officially broken ties with teetering Syrian President Bashar Assad. And a British newspaper reported that the northern Iraqi Kurds have allowed Israeli commandoes to use their territory to train for a possible attack on Iran, which is located opposite the Iraqi border.

There have also been reports that French, German, American and Israeli intelligence officials have been using European towns for secret meetings between pro-Western Lebanese Druze, Sunni and Christian politicians in order to put pressure on the pro-Assad Shiite Hizbullah militia.

Fierce gun battles between pro- and anti-Assad militias have broken out in Tripoli and Beirut over the past few weeks. Military and political officials in the U.S., Israel and France fear that if Assad falls, Iran will instruct Hizbullah to reignite a sectarian civil war in Lebanon that could spill over the border into Israel.

The region’s instability and the potential for either a Hizbullah or Iranian Revolutionary Guard terror attack on Israel and its interests have also had a deleterious effect on Israeli participation in UN-sponsored events taking place in Persian Gulf nations.

According to several Israeli media reports the Shin Bet has, for the moment, scrapped Minister of Environment Protection Gilad Erdan’s participation in the UN’s annual climatology conference in Qatar, scheduled for November.

This follows Qatar’s rejection of allowing Israeli security personnel to enter the Persian Gulf oil sheikhdom. In the past, Qatar, which has informal relations with Israel, has allowed Israeli politicians and athletes to partake in various events in their country.

Quick Takes: News You May Have Missed

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Iran Warns Saudi Arabia, Qatar:
Don’t Cooperate With Israel, Or Else…

Iran has warned Saudi Arabia and Qatar that if either country allows Israel to use its airspace, Tehran may retaliate directly against them, according to informed Arab government officials speaking to this column.

One official said that in talks with Gulf nations, Iran “hinted” that a couple of Iranian missiles “may lose their way” and strike Qatar, Saudi Arabia, or any other Gulf country that allows Israel to use its airspace in any attack against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

Such threats may help to account for a reported change in Saudi Arabia’s attitude toward an Israeli strike on Iran. Last week, Israel’s Yedioth Aharonot newspaper reported that Saudi Arabia has informed the Jewish state that it will intercept any Israeli aircraft crossing its airspace en route to Iran.

Saudi Arabia does not maintain an open diplomatic relationship with Israel. But the Sunni Muslim country, together with Qatar, Jordan, and others, feels threatened by the growing and opposing influence of Iran, dominated by Shiite Islam.

There have been multiple reports of Saudi cooperation with Israel on the Iranian nuclear issue. There were claims in both 2009 and 2010, for example, that then-Mossad chief Meir Dagan met with Saudi intelligence officials. One report said Dagan went to Saudi Arabia in 2009 to gain assurances that the country would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets violating Saudi airspace during any raid on Iran’s nuclear plans. Both governments denied the reports.

Egypt Mulling Keeping Tanks In Sinai

Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi is considering keeping tanks in the Sinai Peninsula on a permanent basis, according to a senior Egyptian military official who spoke to KleinOnline. The military buildup would violate a key provision of the peace accords signed with Israel in 1979 that calls for the total demilitarization of the peninsula.

Over the last two weeks, there have been reports of Egypt sending in light tanks, armored vehicles, and attack helicopters in the Sinai purportedly to fight Islamic groups blamed for a spate of attacks and attempted attacks against both Israel and Egyptian police. The Jewish state has kept largely quiet about the Egyptian military deployments, choosing instead to let Cairo’s military attempt to root out the jihadists that have taken up positions throughout the Sinai.

The Egyptian military leadership has long been considered a quiet ally of Israel. However, Morsi’s most recent unilateral sacking of the Egyptian military brass has sent alarm bells ringing across Israel. The move signals the centralization of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood coalition and his presidency’s dominance over the military, which has long been seen as an independent force.

Muslim Brotherhood leaders over the years have called for Egypt to abandon the peace treaty with Israel. The treaty was the basis for the opening of billions of dollars in U.S. aid that built the Egyptian military into one of the strongest forces in the Middle East today, second perhaps only to Israel.

U.S. Makes Life Easier For
Charity Helping Syrian Rebels

A charity now operating out of Washington, D.C., recently received U.S. nonprofit status to raise money for the Free Syrian Army.

The D.C.-based Syrian Support Group boasts on its website that it received “a license from the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control that permits the organization to raise funds and provide certain services to the Free Syrian Army.” The group says it is raising funds in the U.S. to provide “certain logistical, communications and other services to the [Free Syrian Army].”

Brian Sayers, director of government relations for the Syrian Support Group, admitted in an NPR interview the money raised by his organization will go to weapons purchases as well. The Syrian Support Group addresses concerns on its website about whether some of the money will go to Al Qaeda organizations fighting with the Free Syrian Army. There have been scores of reports worldwide of Al Qaeda and other jihad groups joining the ranks of the Free Syrian Army in its insurgency against Bashar al-Assad.

“SSG acknowledges reports of increasing Al-Qaeda and other extremist activity within Syria. SSG hopes to serve as a counter-weight to this development and will only provide financial support to military councils who have adopted the Free Syrian Army’s Proclamation of Principles.”

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/rep-arab-league-will-support-pa-if-israel-halts-tax-payments/2012/06/03/

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