One of the most incomprehensible mysteries that leave many of us perplexed and dumbfounded is the matter of Qatar’s international relations. Since the coup of Sheikh Hamad Al-Thani against his father, Khalifa Al-Thani, on June 27, 1995, Qatar has seemingly worked on strengthening its ties with the United States and Israel and welcomed them with open arms.
Yet, at the same time, Qatar has taken vexing contradictory measures against the US by making political, military, and financial alliances with its enemies, namely Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas, and the unruly Iraqi militias famous for their ballistic missiles. Additionally, Qatar has firmly denounced the normalization agreement between the UAE and Israel in a daring manner.
Qatar is openly doing everything in its power to inflict the greatest possible harm on America's allies in the Arab Gulf, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and Yemen. Not to mention that it is spending billions of dollars on every terrorist and hostile organization or group in the region by supporting its leaders, and ensuring it has access to endless supplies of weapons, drugs, funds, satellite channels and safe havens in order to help these groups continue their vicious attack against American imperialism and Zionism, with the aim of liberating Palestine, upholding the banner of the Islamic caliphate, both Shia and Sunni, and promoting faith-based antagonism.
What’s even more perplexing is that the pro-Netanyahu Israeli media, has fiercely condemned the Qatari Emir and voiced its anger and discontent with his actions, accused him of allowing suspicious terrorism-financing operations and openly called for holding him accountable.
Meanwhile, the US has chosen to turn a blind eye, all the while US officials continue to visit the Amiri Diwan, and the ministries of finance, foreign affairs, interior and defense, in addition to maintaining close ties with Qatari intelligence officers as if nothing is happening.
I was driven to write this piece after stumbling upon an article in the Israel Today newspaper written by Dr. Edy Cohen, a professor of Orientalism at Bar-Ilan University and a researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, in which he fiercely attacked Qatar.
He believes that the Arab world is moving in a positive direction of reconciliation and unity, but there is one rogue Arab state that ostensibly deviates from this newfound Arab unanimity by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, funding terrorist organizations, and by being the only state in the region to publicly oppose normalization and peace with Israel.
As a result of Qatar’s duplicitous agenda with neighboring countries, in addition to backing the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, as well as its relentless attempts to instigate conflicts against Arab regimes, Gulf States imposed a blockade on Qatar as part of a plan aimed at isolating them politically and economically until they return to their senses. However, Qatar decided instead to seek Iranian and Turkish support.
Qatar seems to be the state that stands to lose the most from the UAE-Israel normalization agreement, which the Gulf states have agreed upon, either explicitly or implicitly.
Qatar seems to be doing everything in its power to stand against the Arab-Israeli peace process, by continuing to flagrantly denounce the latest peace agreement and spreading its prejudiced rhetoric through its popular state-owned channel, Al Jazeera, in particular.
During the past few years, Al Jazeera has been called out for failing to remain professional, impartial, and objective in the way it reports on current events. There are many incidents proving this approach; for instance, the state-run news channel seems to be completely absent from covering the demonstrations that occur from time to time in Iran, while at the same time it shamelessly praises someone like Qassem Soleimani who killed hundreds of thousands of Arabs and Muslims.
Al Jazeera has, for a long time, been broadcasting incitement programs against Israel, which is hypocritical considering the fact that Qatar was the first country to publicly open its doors to senior Israeli officials. We all remember Shimon Peres’s visit to Qatar when it hosted the inauguration of the Israeli mission in 1996.
However, for some reason, Israeli-Qatari relations started being conducted in secrecy. This clear shift in Qatar’s approach could be noted ever since Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, handed over the power to his son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in June 2013.
Qatar justifies this secrecy by claiming that this approach facilitates negotiations between Hamas and Netanyahu’s government; however, this couldn't be further from the truth. According to Israeli writer Edy Cohen, the real reason behind this is its affiliations with Iran and Turkey.
In his opinion, this rapprochement with Israel on political, economic and cultural aspects, enhances the security of Gulf states who fully believe in the importance of peace and backing Trump's policy towards the Iranian regime.
The Israeli writer concludes his article by stressing that concluding a peace agreement with Israel will deter the Iranians and stop Qatar from using its satellite channel to stir up conflicts between Israel and Gulf countries.
So, after reading this Israeli article that indignantly denounces Qatar and its ruler, the matter of Qatari-US relations remains a big mystery. Why does the US continue to protect Qatar and its Emir despite Israel’s clear disapproval, and despite Qatar’s complete alliance with the Iranian regime on all political, military, economic, intellectual, ideological and media matters, especially since this regime poses a threat for the Americans and has assassinated multiple US soldiers?
Since the days of Khomeini, and throughout the rule of his cleric successors, including the current Supreme Leader and his senior military and civilian aides, Iran never stopped making hostile statements against America and Israel, never shying away from chanting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."
Despite all of this, how can the White House remain unconvinced that Qatar is actively sabotaging its policies, positions, alliances and interests in the region and the world?
In my opinion, this is one of the great mysteries that we need to unearth.
*This article was originally published in, and translated from, Al-Arab outlet.