Friday, May 03, 2013

Let's Hope Qatar Is Not The Poster Boy For The New Saudi Peace Plan (Update: US Blasts Qatar)

Seth Mandel writes about The Qatari Challenge to U.S. Foreign Policy, with such challenges including:
  • Qatar funding of anti-Western propaganda through Al Jazeera
  • Qatar stiffing Abbas and the PA on its pledges because it was concerned Abbas wouldn’t share the funds with Hamas, and in turn gave as much as $400 million directly to Hamas -- thus enabling Hamas terrorism, weakening Fatah and decreasing the chances for Israeli-Palestinian peace even further.
  • Qatar organizing shipments of weapons that are largely going to hard-line Islamists.
As it so happens, the Qatar that is funding Hamas terrorists happens to be the very same one that apparently is backing the latest iteration of the Saudi Peace Plan -- now with land swaps.

Kerry praised the renewed Arab backing for the Saudi Peace Plan:
Although there is still a long way to go, Kerry said Tuesday, “I don’t think you can underestimate the significance of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Arab Emirates, the Egyptians, the Jordanians and others coming to the table and saying, ‘We are prepared to make peace now in 2013.’ ”
Putting aside the problem that of the 22 members of the Arab League that Kerry is referring to, only 7 actually attended the meeting -- how seriously should one take the Qatari interest in peace, when it is simultaneously undermining it directly?

As Jeffrey Goldberg puts it in describing Qatar: Attention-Starved Teen of the Middle East:
In addition to funding Hamas and providing support for Islamists across the region, Qatar also hosts the forward headquarters of the U.S. Central Command at the huge Al Udeid Air Base. The government of Qatar also hosts, and owns, the Al Jazeera television network, which allows it to project its often anti-American ideas around the world. (The only government that has guaranteed immunity against criticism from Al Jazeera is, unsurprisingly, Qatar’s). And as the kiss on Saban’s two cheeks suggests, Qatar sees nothing incongruous about maintaining open contacts with Israelis while funding an organization whose declared goal is killing Israelis. [emphasis added] 
Perhaps Qatar was not the best choice to be the one to announce this "breakthrough":
Speaking on behalf of an Arab League delegation to Washington, Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani called for an agreement between Israel and a future Palestine based on the Jewish state’s border before the 1967 Mideast War. But, unlike in previous such offers, he cited the possibility of “comparable,” mutually agreed and “minor” land swaps between the Israelis and the Palestinians.[emphasis added]
Kerry and Qatari Prime Minister
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani deliver a joint statement after a multilateral
meeting with the Arab League delegation at the Blair House in Washington, D.C., on
April 29, 2013. State Department photo

The offer of maybe being willing to make minor land swaps is somewhat underwhelming. While it is understandable that Kerry would play up the Arab claim that they are "prepared to make peace now in 2013," maybe he could first ask the peace-loving Qataris to stop funding the terrorists who target Israeli civilians.

UPDATE: reports that U.S. Allies Blast Qatar for Al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood Support
The Hill recently reported on Congressional concerns regarding Qatar’s regional role in general, and its actions in Libya in particular:
President Obama will meet with Qatar’s leader later this month amid rising concerns that the oil-rich Gulf State is supplying weapons to Islamist militants in Syria who could one day use them against U.S. interests… “We’ve got a problem with Libya. We’ve got a problem here,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) told The Hill. “The U.S. is talking to the Qataris, but at this point they’re out of step with the international community and with other Middle Eastern governments.”…

The administration had little to say on the record about reports that Qatari arms are flowing to Islamists. The country was also accused of arming Islamist hardliners in Libya, although no Qatari weapons have been traced back to the attackers who killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans at the U.S. mission in Benghazi last year.
Qatar is under increasing criticism for backing Al Qaeda elements in Mali, Al Qaeda elements in Syria, hard line Islamists in Egypt, and the Iran-backed terror group Hamas.
Maybe this explains why Qatar's role at the meeting with the Arab League -- in appreciation for a promise from Qatar to stop backing terrorism.

That is, assuming they ever made such a promise.

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