Clueless in Qatar: Ambassador John Bolton's Belief
August 11, 2014
The richest Country in the world, Qatar boasts hotels like Las Vegas, beautiful beaches (with a proper dress code), and duty free shopping. Smaller than Connecticut it borders Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. It was inhabited by nomads, Arabs, Persians, Ottomans, and the British; the Al Thani family has ruled since the 1800’s. Qatar’s sheikdom produced pearls and fish until oil was discovered. Sheikh Al Thani founded the Al-Jazeera media group, which bought Al Gore’s Current Television for $500 million. Qatar supported Arab Spring uprisings, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and has relations with Hizbullah. Qatar gave hundreds of millions of dollars for tunnels, infrastructure and rocket launchers in Gaza. Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal lives in Qatar.
Hamas/Gaza-Israel war – June 2014 three teenage Jewish Israeli boys were abducted and killed by members of the terrorist organization Hamas, which governs Gaza. Israel responded with a limited bombing campaign into Gaza. In July one Palestinian boy was found dead; a revenge killing for the 3 teens. Rockets escalated from both sides.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a ground operation on July 17 when more than 30 Hamas tunnels were found with plans to infiltrate Israel to abduct and murder Israeli civilians. He promises that Israel will not stop the operation until all tunnels are destroyed.
Egypt’s acting President Abdel el-Sisi took the lead in cease fire talks. Israel, Hamas, and Palestinian Authority (PA) sent delegates to Cairo. The proposal included a demilitarized Gaza and closing of the tunnels. It would have been a diplomatic triumph for Egypt.
Meanwhile in Paris, John Kerry held meetings with Qatar and Turkey for his peace plan. Israel, Hamas, and the PA were not invited. Mahmoud Abbas, PA leader said “Those who want Qatar or Turkey to represent them should go and live there.” Asharq Al-Awsat media reported that Kerry was trying to sabotage the Egyptian proposal; and to restore influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. PA spokesman Ahmed Assaf denounced Kerry saying his effort tried to sideline Egypt. Alan Dershowitz writes that Qatar and Turkey are accessories to Hamas war crimes. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said that Qatar and Turkey were undermining Egypt’s initiative, a position echoed by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.
Tensions between Qatar and other Gulf Nations have increased. There is hostility for Qatar’s support of terrorist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain have withdrawn their ambassadors. Relations between Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Emir Hamad Al Thani remain tepid. Hamas leaders were expelled from Jordan years ago, and went to Qatar.
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was traded for five top Taliban commanders from Guantanamo. Qatar brokered the deal. Talibani were released to Qatar. US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Qatari Defense Minister Hamad al Attiyah signed an $11 billion deal enhancing Qatar’s military capabilities.
Al Udeid Air Base west of Doha, hosts headquarters of United States Air Force Central Command. Terrorist statements indicate that U.S. Military facilities in Qatar remain potential targets. Experts believe there is support for Al Qaeda by Qatari citizens, including members of the ruling Al Thani family.
After Hamas violated the latest cease fire, Kerry expressed deep concern and made a flurry of phone calls. His deputy, William Burns, is heading for Cairo peace talks.
Is Secretary of State Kerry Clueless or Cogent? His Middle East actions will be judged by Father Time.