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What A Surprise! Qatar Funds Hezbollah
by Hugh Fitzgerald
What do we know about Qatar? We know that it is the only Gulf Arab country that is well-disposed toward the terror state of Iran. And it is also a stout supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. The leading ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood is Yousef al-Qaradawi, the Egyptian-born cleric who spews his antisemitic and anti-Infidel venom from his secure base in Qatar. Qatar funds the antisemitic and anti-Western television broadcaster and on-line newspaper, Al Jazeera, which is a major source of biased news about the Middle East. It is in Qatar that the former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, reputed to have stolen between $2.5 and $5 billion from aid meant for the Palestinians, now makes his home. The Qataris themselves can afford to be largely indolent; 88% of the population of Qatar consists of foreigners who do all the work in the emirate; the Qataris are waited on hand-and-foot, from cradle to grave. Their fabulous wealth, based on reserves of natural gas, is the result not of hard work or entrepreneurial flair, but of an accident of geology.
Qatar’s support for both Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood has angered many of its neighbors. Between 5 and 6 June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Yemen, Egypt, the Maldives, and Bahrain all separately broke relations with Qatar. Since then, Saudi Arabia, the UEA, Egypt, and Bahrain have instituted a land, sea, and air blockade of Qatar. They had hoped to change Qatar’s policy toward Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, but so far there has been no visible effect.
Qatar is also the site of the largest American military base in the Middle East, the Al Udeid airbase, which houses about 11,000 servicemen. It is apparently the desire to hold onto that base that has prevented the American government from reading Qatar the riot act for its support of Iran, Hamas, the Islamic State. But with Qatar’s financial support of Hezbollah now having been revealed, it’s time for the American government to rethink its indulgent attitude toward the mendacious emirate.
Here is the story about Qatar’s support for Hezbollah:
A German private security contractor, who has worked for the federal republic’s intelligence and security services, leveled bombshell allegations against Qatar’s regime, stating Doha finances the US and EU-designated terrorist movement Hezbollah and has declared Jews to be the enemies of the tiny Gulf state.
The German weekly news outlet Die Zeit first reported on Friday about the security contractor Jason G. who obtained explosive details about Qatari terror finance.
In Doha, G. came across some unsavory information. There was an alleged arms deal with war munitions from Eastern Europe that was supposed to be handled by a company in Qatar. And there were alleged money flows from several rich Qataris and exiled Lebanese people from Doha to Hezbollah – the organization that is part of the government in Lebanon but is internationally outlawed as a terrorist organization and has been banned in Germany since April. The donations are said to have been processed with the knowledge of influential government officials through a charity organization in Doha,” wrote the veteran Zeit journalists Yassin Musharbash and Holger Stark.
The paper added that “a thick dossier with compromising material emerged, which Zeit was able to see in parts and which is somewhat explosive: Israel and the USA have long been trying to dry out [the finances of] Hezbollah. Concrete evidence that money is flowing from the Gulf to terrorist groups would increase pressure on Qatar and may lead to sanctions.”
G. met with Michael Inacker, who works for the German public relations company WMP, and is well connected to a top Qatari diplomat who was not named in the article. WMP also did work for Qatar’s regime….
The paper reported that “according to Jason G., because of Inacker’s mediation, there were half a dozen meetings between G. and the Qatari diplomat.”
Die Zeit further wrote that “according to G., ugly comments about Israel had also been made at one of the meetings, the [Qatari]diplomat said that they had learned from the ground up that the Jews were their enemies.”…
G. said he received € 10,000 a number of times from Qatar’s diplomat, including an additional € 100,000 over a period of months.
The paper reported that Qatar’s regime offered G. € 750,000 in exchange for remaining silent about his knowledge of Qatar’s financing of Hezbollah….
Die Zeit wrote that “neither the government of the Emirate nor the Qatari ambassador in Berlin want to comment on the details, a government spokesman from Doha merely says that Qatar ‘plays a central role in international efforts to combat terrorism and extremism in the Middle East.’ The country has ‘strict laws to prevent private terrorism from being financed,’ and anyone caught doing so will be punished with all the harshness of the law.”
Yet, Qatar has long been accused of financing terrorism in the Middle East. The monarchy state provides organizational space to the the US and EU-designated terrorist movement Hamas, as well as for the Taliban. Qatar has also built a strong alliance with the Islamic Republic of Iran – the worst state-sponsor of global terrorism, according to both the Obama and Trump administrations.
In 2014, German Development Minister Gerd Mueller accused Qatar of financing Islamic State terrorists. “This kind of conflict, this kind of a crisis always has a history … The ISIS troops, the weapons – these are lost sons, with some of them from Iraq,” Mueller told German public broadcaster ZDF.
In 2014, the German government had evidence that Qatar was funding Islamic State terrorists. It surely shared this information with its NATO partners, especially with the American government, which continues not only to have diplomatic relations with a country that should be placed beyond the pale, but retains its military airbase Al Udeid in Qatar that provides the Emirate with a sense of security – of American protection – which it has done nothing to merit and to which it should not be entitled. There are many other places In the Middle East, including several places right on the Gulf, where American forces might instead be placed. There are five airbases in Saudi Arabia that the U.S. forces now at Al Udeid could transfer to, including two right on the Gulf. The Riyadh Airbase is in the middle of Saudi Arabia, from where planes could easily patrol the Arabian (quondam Persian) Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, the Saudi oil fields. There is the gigantic King Fahd Air Base – the largest in the world – at present an inactivated military airfield that currently is used for commercial and civilian flights. It holds the record for the largest and widest airport in the world, covering over 780 square km. It is located in the eastern part of the country, about 20 km away from Dammam. There would be no need to build it out further to handle military aircraft. And it is located in eastern Saudi Arabia, right next to the oilfields that Iran, and its Houthi proxies, have tried to damage.
There is also the possibility of establishing an air base in Oman. Oman is the most stable of Arab states. A majority of its population belong to the Ibadi sect of Islam, which keeps the Sunni-Shi’a enmity — so damaging elsewhere — from harming Oman’s domestic tranquility. It is pro-Western. It is well-disposed toward Israel. The late Sultan Qaboos invited Prime Minister Netanyahu for a cordial visit in 2018. The celebrated scholar of the Persian Gulf, who was also a former adviser to Sheih Zayed of Abu Dhabi, the late J. B.Kelly, always claimed that the best site, the natural site, for an American air base in the Gulf region was in Oman, and he didn’t understand why so little interest was displayed for this idea. He did note that Oman, unlike all the other Gulf Arab states, did not have a small army of lobbyists working for it in Washington. “In fact,” Kelly once told me, “I don’t think they had even one.”
A third site for an American air base – to replace Al Udeid in Qatar — might be found is in the Sinai. The Israelis built three modern bases in the Sinai; they would need some improvements but are otherwise ready for the Americans to move in. Nothing would need to be built from scratch. The neighbors on both sides – Egypt and Israel – would welcome a reassuring American presence. From a base in the Sinai American planes could monitor conflicts, and project airpower, across the Red Sea to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, all the way down to Oman and the Gulf of Oman, and in the west, cover Egypt and much of the Maghreb.
“You have to ask who is arming, who is financing ISIS troops. The keyword there is Qatar – and how do we deal with these people and states politically?” said [German Development Minister] Mueller.
An American withdrawal from its airbase in Qatar would be a good start. It would provide a salutary lesson, for Qatar itself and for others who might consider themselves sufficiently valuable to American security – as Qatar now does – that they can get away with supporting terror states and terror groups. They must be disabused of this belief. Qatar has managed so far to be protected by an implicit American security blanket (the Al Udeid airbase), and yet still manages to support terrorists. But with the latest revelations about Doha’s support for Hezbollah, possibly it won’t get away with this for much longer.