The ongoing terror ties of Qatar, most recently evidenced by its hosting of Hamas’s release of the terror organization’s new political document, make it a problematic ally for the United States, Jonathan Schanzer and Kate Havard wrote Thursday in Newsweek.
Schanzer, a former U.S. Treasury Department official and currently Senior Vice President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), and Havard, a research analyst at FDD, wrote that in addition to hosting Hamas for the release of the document, which was falsely “promoted as a more moderate version of the group’s founding charter,” it has given millions in aid that allowed Hamas to reportedly “rebuild its network of terror tunnels,” and provided safe haven for many of the group’s leaders.
Nor is Hamas the only terror group that Qatar has aided. Qatar has overseen the rebranding of the Nusra Front and the Taliban. In the first case, it promoted a phony split between the Nusra Front and Al Qaeda, when the former’s leader didn’t renounce his loyalty to Al Qaeda.
In the second case, it has provided luxurious homes for leaders of the Taliban who were released from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for the American soldier Bowe Bergdahl. It also opened an embassy for the Afghanistan-based terror group, which was closed in name only when the Afghan government protested.
“In other words, terrorists roam free in this tiny corner of the Middle East. In some cases, the government actively tries to help them rebrand. In others, the government simply turns a blind eye to their activities,” Schanzer and Havard observed.
The basis of the United States’ alliance with Qatar is that Qatar is home to the Al-Udeid air base, which the American rent from the monarchy.
Schanzer and Havard concluded:
The insanity of this arrangement is highlighted by the fact that the base is essentially down the street from the same hotel were Hamas has unfurled its new political document, and a stone’s throw from the Taliban’s “non-embassy.”
Some in the military insist that this is not a problem. Some beltway analysts insist that the government in Doha is changing. But this amounts to little more than a rebranding campaign of our own. Qatar is sponsoring terrorism. It is time to demand that this shifty Middle East country choose sides.
The problem of Qatar’s double-game of supporting terror while acting as an ally of the United States has been going on for some time.
In “Qatar’s Rise and America’s Tortured Middle East Policy,” which was published in the September 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine, Jonathan Spyer observed:
Yet Qatar is not part of the regional bloc of anti-Western states and movements led by the Islamic Republic of Iran. While Qatar has a far warmer relationship with Tehran and Hezbollah than others Arabs states, it also remains America’s landlord, handsomely leasing the U.S. military its largest foreign air base in the world—Al-Udeid. Nor has Qatar consistently pursued a policy of unremitting, unambiguous hostility to Israel. In fact, Doha maintained a trade mission in Israel until the 2008 Operation Cast Lead, also aimed at stopping Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.
At least for now, Qatar’s clear support for a designated terrorist organization does not appear to be hampering its flourishing relations with the West. In recent days, at a time when Hamas was openly engaged in attempts to murder Israeli civilians, it was announced that Qatar had sealed an arms deal with the U.S. worth $11 billion. The deal includes the purchase of Apache attack helicopters, as well as Javelin and Patriot air defense systems. Indeed, last December, the U.S. signed a 10-year Defense Cooperation Agreement with the Emirate.