Op-Ed: How should America and Israel deal with Qatar?
By Rachel Avraham
Over the past 10 years, Qatar has invested $1.5 billion in “aid” to the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by the Hamas terror organization. Pretty soon, they are expected to invest an additional $10 million in aid to the coastal strip. Yet at the same time, they have served as a mediator between Israel and Hamas. Furthermore, the Washington Post reported that Al Udeid in Qatar is America’s biggest military base in the region and it is only getting bigger. The question remains, is this a good thing? How should both the United States and Israel deal with Qatar, which is a government that has performed favors for them yet has also propped up not only Hamas but also supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hezbollah, Jabhat Al Nusra, (formerly ISIS) and is closely aligned with the Iranian regime as well?
Dr. Yael Maari, an expert on Saudi Arabia at Ben-Gurion University, wrote in Yedioth Achronot: “The government in Jerusalem, having realized that a humanitarian crisis in Gaza posed a threat to Israel and could trigger another war, found an ally in Qatar, which offered aid to the besieged enclave. The Qatari rulers saw an opportunity to assume a crucial mediation role between Israel and Hamas and as a result enjoyed a marked strengthening of ties with the United States. Jerusalem, though reluctant at first, agreed to cooperate with Qatar primarily to keep Iran from tightening its grip on the Gaza factions. And it is Doha’s actions, coupled with mediation efforts by Egypt and the UN special Mideast envoy Nikolay Mladenov, that have prevented more rounds of violence between the two sides.”
However, prominent Middle East Scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar still believes that Qatar is an enemy of the State of Israel and the United States: “Qatar is a state which aligns with the most problematic enemies of both the West, USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and many others. Qatar is the main supporter of most of the Sunni terror organizations. Qatar is in bed with Shia Iran due to their joint interest in the biggest gas field in the world, With its Al Jazeera channel, Qatar undermined the Arab regimes since 1996 and the so-called Arab Spring is the result of the incitement of Al Jazeera against the Arab regimes. Qatar took an active part in the war against Qaddafi and the situation in Libya is the result of Qatar’s activity. However, in order to gain immunity and to escape accountability for its actions, Qatar hosts an American air base as a fig leaf to cover its alliance with the worst enemies of America. The mask on the Qatari face should have been removed long ago, but for too many people in the world, the situation which Qatar plays with all the cards is too convenient.”
Dr. Kedar also criticized the Israeli government for permitting Qatar to fund the Hamas government in Gaza: “Sometimes, Israel prefers short-term arrangements rather than dealing with the deep problems. This money goes also to terror and to support the Hamas regime. Since the Saudi siege on Qatar started two years ago, the main supporters of Qatar are Iran and Turkey. Turkey even sent a military unit in order to make sure that Saudi Arabia does not invade Qatar in order to change its regime and conduct. Look at Qatar’s friends: Iran, Hamas, and Turkey. We have a saying in Hebrew: Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you what you are. So, what do you expect?”
According to Dr. Kedar, Qatar poses a threat not just to the State of Israel and America abroad but also to the United States of America domestically: “Qatar sponsors Islamist organizations in the USA, most of them related to the Muslim Brotherhood. Qatar sponsors academic institutions in the USA and Europe in order to gain sympathy for Qatar in particular and Islam in general, and to produce graduates who will represent the Qatari agenda in political arenas, media outlets, and public organizations.” He argues that this financing will adversely affect Western Civilization over the long term for far too many young people in the West would no longer be loyal to their country of origin.
So, how should the State of Israel and the United States deal with Qatar? Just because Qatar is the elephant in the room that no one wishes to discuss does not mean that policy makers should ignore the writing on the wall. The State of Israel should not be permitting Qatar to prop up the Hamas regime in Gaza because Hamas is a terror organization dedicated to the destruction of the State of Israel, which routinely fires qassam rockets, inflammable balloons, mortars and incendiary kites at the Jewish state. No matter how much money Qatar sends to Hamas, this policy will never change for that terror organization cannot be bribed.
For years, the Saudis attempted to bribe the Muslim Brotherhood and other Sunni Islamist terror organizations in the hope that they won’t harm them. The policy in the end blew up in their faces. Therefore, the State of Israel must find another way to avert the humanitarian disaster in Gaza other than transferring Qatari money to the coastal strip.
The State of Israel must recognize that since Qatar is Iran’s ally and is also propping up Hezbollah, having Qatar prop up Hamas does not in any way weaken Iranian influence in the coastal strip. The State of Israel must understand that any fig leaf that Qatar gives the Jewish state is just for show and does not reflect their true position towards the Jewish state. This is best illustrated by the anti-Israel propaganda that the Qatari Al Jazeera channel broadcasts. They routinely call Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis “alleged stabbing attacks,” even in their English edition. If they value Jewish Israeli lives that little, how can there be peaceful long-term relations? Indeed, Hamas terror leader Ismail Haniyeh has praised the Qatari government precisely because they consider Jews to be the enemy.
The same logic also applies to the United States. Just because the United States has its largest military base there does not mean that Qatar is a friend of America. While it is true that thousands of Americans live in Qatar and that America is Qatar’s largest foreign investment, this does not mean that it is worthwhile for the US to continue to invest in Qatar. After all, the main reason for America’s involvement in the Persian Gulf is to curb Iranian influence, and Qatar remains a staunch ally of Iran despite America’s presence in their country. Therefore, any investments in Qatar are a waste of America’s resources for it helps to strengthen up the Iranian axis, which is counter-productive to President Trump’s efforts to deter the aggression of the mullah’s criminal regime in Tehran.