Inside Qatar’s $20+ million a year lobbying effort in Washington

U.S.-Islamic World Forum | Flickr

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel,  Sept. 13, 2017:

The small Gulf nation of Qatar is investing millions of dollars into influential Washington, D.C., lobbying groups in order to rehabilitate its image with the American people and the Western world. As proven ties to terrorist groups and actors continue to mount, Qatar is now relying on an aggressive public relations campaign to solve its predicament.

Qatar is in the middle of a fierce diplomatic row with its neighbors over its alleged support for terrorist groups and its coziness with the terrorist regime in Iran. Neighbors such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE contend that Qatar is playing a double game with its allies, and the two nations have joined Arab nations in imposing a diplomatic and economic boycott of Doha.

Qatar refutes the allegations by claiming that they act as an intermediary for groups that would otherwise be unreachable to Western governments, such as the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and Hamas.

The diplomatic issue has put the United States in an uncomfortable position, given that Doha’s Al-Udeid Air Base serves as the headquarters of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and hosts over 11,000 U.S. personnel. But Qatar’s dealings with nefarious actors and clear-cut jihadists has not only infuriated neighbors, but caused many Americans (such as President Trump himself) to demand that our CENTCOM partner stop providing safe haven to terrorists and their enablers.

Time and time again Qatar has promised to address these concerns and rein in the extremist elements inside its borders. However, intelligence continues to trickle out supporting detractors’ claims that Qatar not only continues to support terrorists, but also has high-ranking members of its government and society involved in arming and funding jihadists in Syria, Gaza, and elsewhere.

Western officials have alleged that Qatar is not only the foremost supporter of Hamas and the al-Qaeda-connected Al Nusra front, but also the Islamic State.

Currently, according to the UAE government, there are at least six different entities and 37 al-Qaeda operatives living in Qatar. Ryan Mauro of the Clarion Project reports that “Qatar is so hospitable to Al-Qaeda that Osama Bin Laden advised his son, Hamza, to move there as he prepared to step into his father’s shoes.”

Qatar is currently home to Egyptian Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who has called for suicide bombings against American soldiers stationed in the Middle East. Moreover, Qatar has long been the established residence of the chairman of Hamas. In June, Interpol listed 26 terrorists residing in Qatar who were wanted by foreign governments for extradition.

Given that Qatar hasn’t shown much interest in reforming its most fundamentalist elements, the cash-rich ruling monarchy there has decided to dump millions of dollars into a P.R. effort in the United States to boost its image with the decision makers in Washington.

Qatar now has multi-million dollar lobbying contracts with seven different Washington lobbying firms. Lobbyists are tasked with smoothing over (whitewashing) Qatar’s record on various issues, from its troubling terror ties to its diplomatic positioning to even its relationship with the Jewish community (which is troubled by its overt support for Hamas, which seeks to wipe out the state of Israel).

Republican, Democrat, and non-partisan focus firms have been deployed to work on Qatar’s behalf. Politico reports that Qatar was spending over $1.7 million a month ($20 million annually) on its lobbying — and that was before it inked its seventh contract on Sept. 3 with Stonington Strategies.

Doha is also moving boatloads of cash over to D.C. think tanks, seeking to influence the debate within Washington’s academics and elitist society.

Between 2011 and 2014, Qatar pledged at least $21.6 million to the center-left Brookings Institution. In 2014, Qatar agreed to “donate” another $14.8 million over four years to Brookings. Scholars there have admitted on the record that they cannot take “positions critical of the Qatari government in papers,” accordingto The New York Times.

In addition to Brookings, the influential, relatively non-partisan Rand Corporation recently completed a decade-long partnership with Qatar.

While Qatar’s lobbying efforts are centered in Washington, they’re also determined to reach a broader audience in the academic world, through collaborative projects with some of America’s top universities.

With mounds of evidence showing direct ties to terror, and having a leadership that does not intend on entertaining true reform, it remains to be seen whether Qatar will succeed in efforts to pay its way out of its current image crisis.

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.

Qatar Is Playing a Dangerous Game of Political Chicken

Saudi Arabia and its allies are right to pressure Qatar to end its support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

The National Interest, by Nawaf Obaid, August 6, 2017:

Last month a Saudi-led group of nations that includes Egypt, UAE and Bahrain modified the thirteen demands it had made on Qatar over a month ago and instead insisted on six principles. These principles are an attempt to convince the Qataris to combat extremism and terror, to prevent the expression of incitement to violence, to stop interfering in the internal affairs of other states, and to refrain from supporting illegal entities, among other things. And while moving from making demands to urging an acceptance of principles is being spoken of as a reconciliatory gesture on the part of the anti-Qatar bloc, the central contentious issue remains: Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood. The Saudi coalition knows what the experiences of numerous Muslim governments have long proven: the Muslim Brotherhood is an oppositionist movement that does not represent a sustainable form of governance, offers little in the way of social or economic programs, and some of its members have been linked to political violence and jihadist terror.

The current crisis has a geopolitical and historico-religious context. Qatar is a small island nation of 2.5 million people (of which fewer than 10 percent are nationals) that has long felt begrudgingly subordinate to larger Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Its ruling family, Al Thanis, also trace their roots to the Salafist cleric, Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab, who allied with the Saudi ruling family in the eighteenth century to establish the first Saudi state (the current Kingdom is the third manifestation of the Saudi state).

Fueled by a desire to exercise outsized influence and a sense of its own importance within the original lineage of Islam, Qatar has long harbored Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supported its attempts to seize power in various Arab nations. The former emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who is the father of the current emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is very close with the Muslim Brotherhood’s current spiritual leader, Egyptian-born cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has lived in Qatar since 1961. In addition, Qatar has funded the Al Jazeera network, which has long provided a global platform for Sheikh Qaradawi and others to promote the movement’s rigid political theocratic manifesto.

The Muslim Brotherhood was formed in Egypt in 1928 and spread via affiliate organizations into Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Jordan and Palestine, among others. Yet, in almost every case, it has proven incapable of working successfully and/or peacefully within established sovereign political systems. This has been largely due to three factors: its emphasis on religious ideology over developmental economics has alienated Arab populaces who have a growing preference for secular and effective governance; its inability to keep its numerous affiliates in step has led to the perception that it is too riddled with infighting to coherently govern; and it has been unable to quell suspicions regarding its connection to extremist violence.

The Muslim Brotherhood has never gained power in Egypt, save for a short period after the so-called Arab Spring when it proved even more inept than the Mubarak regime at solving the economic and social problems of the country, and the army, with large popular support, removed it from power. With certain Muslim Brotherhood elements having carried out terrorist attacks against its security officers, Egypt’s Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs has called the Muslim Brotherhood “the progenitor of the Islamic State and similar terrorist groups.”

Also see:

Al Jazeera: The Terrorist Propaganda Network

by John Rossomando
IPT News
August 4, 2017

Al Jazeera’s support for terrorism goes far beyond on-air cheerleading. Many of its employees have actively supported al-Qaida, Hamas and other terrorist groups. Concerns over the network’s consistent pro-terrorist positions prompted several Gulf States to demand that Qatar shut it down in June.

Sheikh Said Bin Ahmed Al-Thani, director of Qatar’s government information office, called such demands “a condescending view [that] demonstrates contempt for the intelligence and judgment of the people of the Middle East, who overwhelmingly choose to get their news from Al Jazeera rather than from their state-run broadcasters,” Al-Thani wrote in Newsweek.

But a week earlier, United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash detailed Al Jazeera’s connections to terrorists and terror incitement in a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Al Jazeera violates a 2005 U.N. Security Council resolution that called on member states to counter “incitement of terrorist acts motivated by extremism,” Gargash charged.

The network has given a platform to terrorists like Osama bin Laden, Hamas leaders Khaled Meshaal and Mohammed Deif, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah and others, Gargash wrote.

“These have not simply been topical interviews of the kind that other channels might run; Jazeera has presented opportunities for terrorist groups to threaten, recruit and incite without challenge or restraint,” Gargash wrote.

Al Jazeera Incites Terrorism

Al Jazeera took credit for the wave of Arab Spring revolutions in early 2011. Network host Mehdi Hasan noted in a December 2011 column that Al Jazeera gave a regional voice to the irate Tunisian protesters who ousted their dictator that they would not have otherwise had.

Faisal Al-Qassem, host of Al Jazeera’s show “The Opposite Direction,” boasted that television, not the Internet or Facebook, was responsible for the revolutions. Al Jazeera’s influence during the Arab Spring and the subsequent revolutions is a factorin the effort by Qatar’s Gulf neighbors to clip its wings.

Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi used his widely viewed Al Jazeera a program to incite the masses against their dictators.

“We salute the [Tunisian] people, which has taught the Arab and Islamic peoples … the following lesson: Do not despair, and do not fear the tyrants, and more feeble the than a spider-web. They quickly collapse in the face of the power of steadfast and resolute peoples,” Qaradawi said in a Jan. 16, 2011 Al Jazeera broadcast. “The tyrants never listen and never heed advice, until they are toppled.”

He likewise called on former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down on his program later that month.

“There is no staying longer, Mubarak, I advise you (to learn) the lesson of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali,” Qaradawi said referencing Tunisia’s toppled dictator.

A month later, Qaradawi issued a fatwa calling for the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Libya still has not recovered from the toppling of Gaddafi in 2011.

Qaradawi urged the overthrow of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad after demonstrations began in Syria that March, sparking the ongoing Syrian civil war.

Even before the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera acted as a platform for violent terrorists.

Qaradawi’s endorsement of suicide bombings aired on Al Jazeera. The network also glorified a female Palestinian suicide bomber whose 2003 attack killed 19 people at an Arab-owned restaurant in Haifa as a “martyr.”

It also broadcast a 2006 speech by al-Qaida leader Abdel Majid al-Zindani at a pro-Hamas conference in Yemen, even though the United States and United Nationsalready had designated him as a terrorist. Proceeds from the conference benefited Hamas. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and the widow of slain Hamas leader Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi also attended.

“What is our duty towards this righteous jihad-fighting people, the vanguard of this nation? What is our duty? What is our obligation? ” al-Zindani asked. “The Hamas government is the Palestinian people’s government today. It is the jihad-fighting, steadfast, resolute government of Palestine.

“I don’t have it in my pocket right now, but I am making a pledge, and as you know, I keep my promises. So I’m donating 200,000 riyals. What about you? What will you donate? Go ahead.”

Defector Alleges Qatari Intel Runs Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera is not just another news organization like CNN, Fox News or the BBC, Qatari intelligence whistle-blower Ali al-Dahnim told Egypt’s Al-Bawaba newspaper in April. Qatar’s state security bureau both finances and operates Al Jazeera, he claimed. -“By and large, its [Al Jazeera] news content comes under the sway of security officials, rendering it as a mouthpiece for Qatar’s security and intelligence apparatus,” Al-Dahnim said on Egyptian television. “Not to mention its free publicity to hardened terrorists such as Osama bin Laden who used to use Al Jazeera as an outlet to disseminate his terror messages to the world.”

Al Jazeera English likewise pushes the Qatari government’s favored narratives, such as exaggerating the global importance of its emir.

Its short-lived affiliate, Al Jazeera America (AJAM), aired pro-Palestinian propaganda. During the 2014 Gaza crisis, AJAM host Wajahat Ali pushed Hamas’ talking pointsabout the territory’s population density without a single reference to how the terrorist group used mosques and civilian buildings to launch rockets.

“I think it is simply providing one side of a story. It doesn’t rise to Soviet propaganda, but it certainly is propaganda for one side,” Temple University journalism professor Christopher Harper told the Investigative Project on Terrorism in 2014.

Muslim Brotherhood Shapes Al Jazeera Narrative

Al Jazeera has been “hijacked” by the Muslim Brotherhood, Tunisian intellectual Khaled Shawkat alleged in 2006. Shawkat claimed to have spoken with numerous Al Jazeera journalists who told him that Qatar’s rulers handed the network over to the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Most of them agreed that ‘loyalty’ [to a group] had come to supercede ‘qualifications,’ and that journalists with no Muslim Brotherhood background had to choose one of two options: [either] adapt to the new work conditions and swear loyalty to the representative of the supreme guide [of the Muslim Brotherhood’ at Al Jazeera, or leave,” Shawkat wrote, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

Around the same time, a top UAE official complained to American diplomats that Qatar had acquiesced to Al Jazeera staff who were “linked to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and jihadists,” a State Department cable noted.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan “said although the Qatari royal family finances Al Jazeera, the people ‘controlling’ it were the same ones financing Osama bin Laden, Hamas, and Iraqi jihadists,” the cable said.

Numerous Al Jazeera employees resigned in 2013 in protest over the channel’s pro-Muslim Brotherhood orientation. Former Al Jazeera journalist Fatima Nabil chargedthat she and her colleagues “had the feeling that the channel is partisan in favor of political Islam, and in most cases selectivity is exercised in broadcasting the text messages [of viewers] on the channel, and even more so in the selection of guests and interviewees.”

The Qatari government controls the network’s coverage, former Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Mohamed Fawzi, arrested by Egyptian authorities in 2013 on terrorism charges, told the Washington Times this year. Al Jazeera actively worked with Brotherhood members in Egypt, Fahmy claimed.

Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour allegedly supported a secret Muslim Brotherhood group in the UAE that aimed to stir up unrest and chaos, Egypt’s Youm 7reported. Qatar provided fugitive members of the Muslim Brotherhood with passports and money. Abdulrhaman Khalifa bin Sabih, the former leader of the secret Muslim Brotherhood organization in the UAE, told Youm7 that an Al Jazeera employee named Mohammed al-Mukhtar al-Shankiti trained him to use social media to spread demonstrations and unrest in the Emirates.

Al Jazeera reportedly enabled the secret Muslim Brotherhood group to link with foreign media and communicate with them because they lacked the means to do so on their own.

Al-Arabiya recently noted that Mansour emphasized the commonalities between the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida during a 2015 interview with then Jabhat al-Nusra (Now called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) leader Abu Muhammad al-Joulani, as evidence of his Brotherhood sympathies.

Al-Arabiya claimed that Al Jazeera’s organizing the interview with al-Joulani served the purpose of improving his image so he can take over after Assad falls, and that it proved a Qatari connection with the Nusra leader.

Emails seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan also show the importance al-Qaida gave to Al Jazeera. One email noted that while other networks were hostile to the terrorist group, it could not afford to turn Al Jazeera into an enemy.

“Although sometimes it makes mistakes against us, their mistakes are limited. By clashing with it, it will be biased and damage the image of the Muslim Mujahidin,” bin Laden wrote under the alias “Zamarai.”

Alleged al-Qaida Members on Al Jazeera’s Staff

Al Jazeera Islamabad bureau chief and Syrian native Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan – identified in a leaked National Security Agency PowerPoint as a member of both al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood – helped Al Jazeera reporter Ahmed Mansour secure the interview with Joulani. Zaidan denies belonging to al-Qaida. He met with bin Laden several times after 9/11.

Zaidan, however, periodically writes for a website connected with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Numerous emails retrieved from bin Laden’s compound showed that al-Qaida viewed Zaidan as an asset. Al-Qaida leaders discussed what they wanted to ask Zaidan, including a 2010 email in which an al-Qaida leader said he hoped to use Zaidan to talk Al Jazeera into running a documentary on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Zaidan isn’t the first Al Jazeera journalist accused by the U.S. government of belonging to al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood. Sami Muheidine Mohamed al-Haj worked in Al Jazeera’s Doha newsroom in 2000. He also served as a money courier for al-Qaida under the cover of his employment with Al Jazeera and a beverage company.

Pakistani authorities captured al-Haj in December 2001 because his name appeared on a watch list, and turned him over to U.S. forces in January 2002. U.S. authorities transferred al-Haj to Guantanamo Bay for questioning, including for information about Al Jazeera’s contacts with bin Laden.

A leaked Guantanamo Bay file describes al-Haj as a member of both the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida.

He belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Shura council and was involved in plans to distribute weapons to terrorists in Chechnya. A photo showed Al-Haj in Al Jazeera’s Kandahar, Afghanistan office with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad.

Another email captured in the raid on Bin Laden’s compound describes an Al Jazeera cameraman referred to as “Siraj” as a member of the al-Qaida linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, who was imprisoned in Iran. The LIFG maintained a network inside Iran in the 2000s.

Networks have their biases. But none comes close to Al Jazeera’s persistent role as the biggest promoter of terrorist propaganda next to social media.

Saudi-led bloc drops the list of 13 demands; now calls for six principles

Doha skyline

World Affairs Journal, July 19, 2017

The Peninsula / AP

UNITED NATIONS: Four Arab nations that are blockading Qatar have dropped their list of 13 demands to lift the siege.

Now the Saudi-led countries are urging Qatar to commit to six principles on combatting extremism and negotiate a plan to implement them.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain broke relations with Qatar in early June largely over their allegations that it supports extremist groups — a charge Qatar rejects. They initially made 13 demands, which Qatar said are “unrealistic and is not actionable”.

Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi told a briefing for a group of UN correspondents that the four nations are now committed to the six principles agreed to by their foreign ministers at a meeting in Cairo on July 5.

According to Al Jazeera the six principles are:

Commitment to combat extremism and terrorism in all their forms and to prevent their financing or providing havens.

Suspending all acts of provocation and speeches inciting hatred or violence.

Full compliance with the Riyadh Agreement of 2013 and the supplementary agreement and its implementation mechanisms of 2014 within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Adherence to all the outcomes of the Arab Islamic American Summit held in May 2017 in Riyadh.

Refraining from interfering in the internal affairs of states and from supporting illegal entities.

The responsibility of all states of the international community to confront all forms of extremism and terrorism as a threat to international peace and security.

Al-Mouallimi said both sides can talk about details of “the tactics” and “the tools” to implement them — “and that’s where we can have discussion and compromise.”

The list of first 13 demands handed to Qatar on 22 June included shutting down the Al Jazeera news network, closing a Turkish military base, cutting ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and downgrading relations with Iran.

Al-Mouallimi said closing Al-Jazeera might not be necessary.

“If we can achieve that (the principles) without closing down Al-Jazeera, that’s also fine. The important thing is the objective and the principle involved.”

UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem Al Hashimy said all the countries involved have strong relations with the United States “and we believe that the Americans have a very constructive and a very important role to play in hopefully creating a peaceful resolution to this current crisis.”

“We hope to be able to resolve this internally and among ourselves with the assistance of strong mediation, whether it’s from the U.S. or the Kuwaitis,” she said.

Diplomats from the four countries who attended the briefing said there have been discussions about possible next steps.

UAE Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh said that “if Qatar is unwilling to accept core principles around what defines terrorism or extremism in our region, it will be very difficult” for it to remain in the Gulf Cooperation Council with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

“So it may be a parting of ways for a little while in order to work things out,” she said.

Also see:

Rex Tillerson: Secretary of State Sabotage?

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson takes a photo with the Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, and Bahrain, and the Kuwaiti Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs after a meeting in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday, July 13, 2017. (U.S. State Department via AP)

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, July 17, 2017:

Who is ultimately responsible for U.S. foreign policy: the elected president of the United States, or the State Department, the CIA, and the media cartel?

That’s the question that must be asked after the past month. Rex Tillerson and the State Department have repeatedly sabotaged President Trump’s stated foreign policy position related to the ongoing crisis between the Gulf states and Qatar over the latter’s sheltering and funding of terrorist groups operating in the region.

This was seen last week, when Tillerson signed a so-called “anti-terrorism” agreement with Qatar:

But no sooner had Tillerson signed this “anti-terrorism” agreement than did Qatar openly state its support for the terrorist group Hamas:

In the region, this was seen as Qatar deliberately making Tillerson look like a complete fool.

Not only do Tillerson and the State Department’s moves in this crisis support terror-funding Qatar, but they alienate our long-time Arab allies in the Middle East. Tillerson’s meetings in Saudi Arabia — which came after signing his agreement with Qatar — were termed “a disaster”:

Needless to say, the other Gulf states and Egypt did not respond positively to Tillerson’s so-called “anti-terrorism” agreement with Qatar, either:

Meanwhile, President Trump has repeatedly supported the other Gulf countries and Egypt in this dispute. He has called out Qatar for its support of terrorism:

Yet Trump has been repeatedly sabotaged by his own secretary of State and State Department:

Tillerson continued his Middle East tour last week by hinting at closer relations with Turkey, which over the past year has nose-dived into open Ottoman Islamist authoritarianism to the considerable consternation of our Arab allies. Except, of course, Qatar:

One of the primary issues in the crisis over Qatar is their support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which in Egypt is waging an all-out insurgency against the government, and is actively working to destabilize other countries in the region.

At his confirmation hearing, Tillerson classified the Muslim Brotherhood as being in the same league as al-Qaeda:

But as secretary of State, Tillerson has taken an entirely different line, especially during this crisis. For instance, take the comments he made last month — he said the U.S. could not designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization because it is part of the government in some countries:

Well, the Bahraini foreign minister publicly called out the Muslim Brotherhood, which is part of Bahrain’s own government, as a terrorist organization earlier this month:

Analysis: Following the Qatar “Deal”

In this July 11, 2017, photo, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani sign a memorandum of understanding in Doha, Qatar. (Alexander W. Riedel/U.S. State Department via AP)

Security Studies Group, by Dr. Brad Patty, July 13, 2017:

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt imposed a blockade on the nation of Qatar recently because of Qatar’s relationship with a number of terrorist and terror-supporting entities.  These nations demanded that Qatar adhere to a 13-point plan if the blockade was to be lifted.  The 13 points include some very important steps, but also some steps that no sovereign nation could ever agree to, as they would effectively make Qatar subordinate to the other nations.

The matter is important to the United States because we have major military installations in Qatar, as well as treaties that could shatter our alliance with the Gulf states if Qatar should end up at war with those states.  That would profit Iran, chief of all, as it would disrupt the alliance opposing Iranian attempts at regional hegemony.  (For a fuller background, see SSG’s earlier posts here and also here.)

This week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson flew to both Qatar and Saudi Arabia to try to resolve the crisis.  He was not successful.  He did obtain a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) with Qatar that the Saudis apparently rejected.  (Here is Qatar’s own Al Jazeera on the topic.)  This MOU is not a treaty or a deal, but it is a commitment to terms that Qatar would accept if others accepted them.  The Saudis apparently didn’t find the terms acceptable, but since the United States signed the MOU as well as Qatar, the Saudis will likely propose new terms that incorporate the MOU but ask for a bit more.  This is diplomacy as deal-making, very much the way the Trump administration views diplomacy.

So, how to know if the final deal is a good one from the perspective of the United States?  Resolving the crisis on any terms defuses the bomb threatening to blow up our regional alliances, but not every such deal is going to address America’s core interests.  Our interests are not the same as those of any of the Arab nations, though some of them overlap.  Thus, it is not necessary to obtain a deal that forces Qatar to submit to the whole 13 point proposal.  A deal that compromises by allowing Qatar to retain its sovereignty, while obtaining the parts of the 13 points that are American interests, is acceptable.

There are really only two things that America needs to insist upon.

  1. A complete end to support for terrorism.  The MOU is supposed to have obtained some Qatari commitments on this score, but the exact terms are not known.  It is easy to say what acceptable terms would be, however.  The terms are acceptable if and only if they commit Qatar to opposing all terrorism, rather than allowing Qatar to retain certain favored terrorists.  Some of the groups are favorites of Iran, like Hezbollah.  The Qataris might wish to keep up good relations with Iran by allowing Hezbollah to continue to operate.  There may be other groups whose terrorist activities Qatar would like to overlook in order to maintain what it considers to be a useful relationship.

    That won’t do.  All terrorist groups must be included.  The 13 points contains a list of groups Qatar has worked with that should serve as a minimum rather than a maximum.  No terror support of any kind is tolerable.  We won’t know how good the deal is on this point until its terms are known.  Secretary Tillerson at least sounds like he knows that this is important in his public statements.  “The US has one goal: to drive terrorism off the face of the Earth,” Tillerson said, adding: “The president said every country has an absolute duty to make sure that terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil.”  We as citizens can judge whether he truly understands based on whether he allowed Qatar to carve out exceptions for some of the groups it has been hosting and financing.

  2. The second thing we must obtain is victory on breaking Qatari relations with Iran.  Iran has been making a major play to become the dominant power in the region since obtaining a de facto alliance with Russia in 2015.  This occurred immediately after the agreement to the “Iran Deal” on nuclear weapons, which gave Russia renewed confidence that Iran could be a major player on the world stage.  Russia subsequently deployed military forces to Syria alongside Iran following meetings in Moscow between Russia’s military leadership and Iran’s top unconventional warfare leader, Qassem Suleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

    This Russian-Iranian axis is seeking to peel Qatar off from the alliance represented by the blockading nations.  Iran has been providing aid and support to Qatar during the blockade, as has Turkey.  Turkey is a US NATO ally, but that nation has been trending toward the Russian axis as its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has slipped towards dictatorial rule.  The moves accelerated following the abortive coup attempt against Erdoğan, which he blamed on an opposition movement hosted by the United States.  Turkey’s role in supporting Qatar thus has to be read as a play at least friendly to the Russian/Iranian axis in the Middle East.  If Qatar can be pulled the rest of the way in, so that it becomes aligned with Iran rather than the Gulf Cooperation Council, Iran will have won a major strategic victory in its efforts to become the local hegemony.

    Those are really the only two things that the United States needs from Qatar.  If an American-backed deal obtains those two things, while also resolving the crisis with the blockading nations, it is a big win for the United States.  Anything less than that is going to be harmful to American interests in small ways or large.

Dr. Patty advised US Army units in Iraq on information operations as part of more than a decade’s involvements in America’s wars. His work has received formal commendations from the 30th Heavy Brigade, the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, the 3rd Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division. Dr. Patty holds his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Georgia.

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Poole: Libyan Army Spox Says Obama, Clinton “Abandoned the Libyan People to the Terrorists”

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, July 11, 2017:

In an exclusive interview with PJ Media, the Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman, Col. Ahmed al-Mesmari, says that President Obama and Hillary Clinton “abandoned the Libyan people to face these terrorists alone,” and implicates the Obama administration in supporting terrorist militias.

With the continuing crisis between several Arab nations, including the Tobruk-based Libyan House of Representatives, and Qatar, Col. al-Mesmari discusses Qatar’s role in arming and financing terrorist militias in Libya.

He also ties the Muslim Brotherhood militias that have been fighting against the LNA with al-Qaeda and ISIS elements operating in the country.

Col. al-Mesmari also claims that the February 17th Martyrs Brigade hired by the State Department to protect the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi cooperated with Ansar al-Sharia in attacking the consulate compound on September 12, 2012,which led to the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Libyans celebrated last week when after three years of battle the LNA finally liberated Benghazi from all terrorist groups in the city.

And over the past month Col. al-Mesmari has publicly charged Qatar with direct support of terrorist groups operating in Libya.

The following is an exclusive interview I conducted by email earlier today with Col. Ahmed al-Mesmari, official spokesman for the Libyan National Army:

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