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Obama's Hypocrisy on Hamas, ISIS, and Iran: Noah Beck, Algemeiner, Aug. 24, 2014 — The beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley has raised concerns in the West about Islamist threats.
Club Med for Terrorists: Ron Prosor, New York Times, Aug. 24, 2014 — The hostilities in Gaza between Israel and Hamas persist and the diplomatic war at the United Nations continues, also without resolution.
Playing with Terror: How to Stop Qatar’s Support for Hamas: Prof. Joshua Teitelbaum, BESA, Aug. 25, 2014 — Fifteen years ago very few people had ever heard of Qatar.
Filling Nasser's Shoes: Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 25, 2014 — Qatar seems to be everywhere these days.
Operation Protective Edge: Gains and Losses: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Aug. 26, 2014
An American-Led Coalition Can Defeat ISIS: Jack Keane & Danielle Pletka, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 24, 2014
Slavery’s Modern Face in the Middle East: Robert Fulford, National Post, Aug. 16, 2014
Qatar Played Now-Familiar Role in Helping to Broker U.S. Hostage’s Release: Adam Goldman & Karen DeYoung, Washington Post, Aug. 23, 2014
Algemeiner, Aug. 24, 2014
The beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley has raised concerns in the West about Islamist threats. But Israel has been facing this specter for decades and – given Israel’s proximity to the Islamist threat – the Jewish State is the canary in the coal mine for the West. But Gaza seems to be the Western blind spot, even though the Hamas-ISIS parallels are glaringly obvious. Since beheadings are the current media focus, and ISIS has beheaded infants, it’s worth noting that Hamas praised the 2011 Itamar murders, which involved the decapitation of a baby. Islamist beheadings should surprise no one, given that they’ve been happening for much of (and despite) modernity – perhaps because “Islam is the only major world religion today that is cited…to legitimize beheadings,” according to this study.
While there have been no reported Hamas beheadings of journalists, the similarities between Hamas and ISIS are more important than their differences. Both would like to establish a Caliphate. Hamas Interior Minister declared as much in this 2013 speech. Both gain and keep power through savagery and fear. Hamas rose to power in Gaza thanks to its violent, 2007 coup, and recently planned a second putsch (in the West Bank). Hamas famously threw its political opponents off rooftops. Like ISIS, Hamas uses clinics, schools, mosques, and charities to gain legitimacy, and inculcates children with the values of jihadi terror. A Vice documentary exposed how ISIS indoctrinates and uses children for war, but Hamas has been doing so for years, educating children to worship death and using child soldiers. Hamas’ use of human shields has been widely documented (and proven very effective in turning public opinion against Israel by exponentially increasing Gazan civilian casualties). ISIS used 500 Yazidi captives and 39 abducted Indians as human shields.
ISIS is known for its expulsion of Christians from Mosul and its genocidal murder of Yazidis and Christians who refuse to convert to Islam or pay the jizyah. Hamas would undoubtedly behave the same way towards the religious minorities within its reach, if Israeli Jews didn’t have the protection of a superior military, and if Hamas didn’t depend on international donations to Gaza that might dry up after a wholesale slaughter of the tiny Christian community there. But even with these checks on Hamas’ brutality, Hamas regularly practices and preaches religious hatred. For years, Hamas has attacked Christians, including defiling Christian graves, abducting and murdering Christians, and more recently using a Gazan church to launch rockets at Israel. Hamas preaches hateful incitement against Jews, has desecrated Jewish holy sites, and has murdered hundreds of Jews in terrorist attacks. ISIS uses Sharia to justify its barbaric treatment of women. Also enamored with Sharia, Hamas treats women as second-class citizens and endorses honor killings. Like ISIS, Hamas advocates the death penalty for homosexuals, lets Islamic morality police govern economic activity, and punishes crime with lashings, amputations, and executions. There have been no broadcast beheadings of homosexuals by ISIS yet, but such horrors can’t be far off, given that ISIS fighters include gay-hating Westerners. Hamas condemned the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, and ISIS aspires to surpass him.
Yet, astonishingly, President Obama and liberals have continually called for restraint when Israel’s military has confronted Hamas (after Hamas’ countless attacks against Israeli civilians) and Obama has pressed Israel to negotiate with Hamas (as if the U.S. would ever negotiate with ISIS). Worse still, the Obama Administration tried to advance Hamas’ negotiating position and recently pressured Israel into letting Hamas keep its military capabilities. Given the opportunity to obliterate ISIS’ terrorist infrastructure, would the U.S. ever spare any part of it? Even more troubling – in terms of the perils involved – is Obama’s feckless strategy towards the Iranian regime, which is the world’s chief sponsor of Islamist terrorist groups (including Hamas and Hezbollah). Like so many Islamist terrorist organizations, Iran executes homosexuals; mistreats women; persecutes religious minorities; employs barbaric, Sharia-law punishments (like amputation and stoning); and brutalizes political dissenters (among myriad other human rights violations). But unlike the terrorist organizations, Iran could theoretically acquire a nuclear weapons capability in under two months. Imagine an Islamist state, which openly supports Islamist terrorists, possessing nukes. Alarmingly, Obama’s overall approach and eagerness to negotiate any deal he can get with Iran have signaled weakness in a region that respects only strength. As if to laugh at Obama’s naiveté, the Iranian regime has continued supporting Hamas despite the sanctions relief that Obama delivered to the Islamic Republic. Obama’s meek and misguided policy has only emboldened the Iranian regime, improved its economic condition, and given diplomatic cover to Iran’s nuclear program. Islamist groups like ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah, all seek the destruction of Western values and civilization. The pursuit of nukes by the Islamist state of Iran – which could eventually enable nuclear terrorism by Iran’s jihadi proxies – poses the greatest threat of all. The West ignores these facts at its peril, and should therefore support Israel’s war against Hamas, and its efforts against Iranian nukes, just as the U.S. has rightly (albeit tardily and minimally) supported the Kurds in their fight against ISIS.
New York Times, Aug. 24, 2014
The hostilities in Gaza between Israel and Hamas persist and the diplomatic war at the United Nations continues, also without resolution. While there is no shortage of opinions on the way forward, the most obvious solution is strikingly absent — the need to disarm and isolate Hamas, the radical Palestinian Islamist group. Since Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005, Hamas has dragged us into three rounds of major assaults, and more than 14,800 rockets have been fired into Israel by the group or its proxies. The discovery of dozens of tunnels packed with explosives, tranquilizers and handcuffs that end at the doorsteps of Israeli communities should be enough to convince anyone that Hamas has no interest in bringing quiet to Gaza or residing alongside Israel in peace.
It says a great deal that Hamas’s former Arab backers, which historically have included Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia, long ago abandoned the terrorist group. Only a few nations still stand by Hamas. Among the most prominent is the tiny Persian Gulf emirate Qatar. In recent years, the sheikhs of Doha, Qatar’s capital, have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Gaza. Every one of Hamas’s tunnels and rockets might as well have had a sign that read “Made possible through a kind donation from the emir of Qatar.” Sitting atop 25 billion barrels of crude oil reserves and enormous natural gas reserves, Qatar has the highest gross domestic product per capita of any country in the world. The emirate is known for international shopping sprees that have included the funding of six American university campuses in Doha, the purchase of the iconic Harrods department store in London, and ownership of the Paris Saint-Germain soccer club. For many years, the gas-rich gulf peninsula tried to avoid attracting attention lest it found itself in the same situation as oil-rich Kuwait, which was invaded by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces in 1990. About 10 years ago, however, Qatar changed tactics. To ensure the country’s survival, the ruling House of Thani has spent extravagantly on increasing Qatar’s presence and prestige on the global stage.
Today, the petite petroleum kingdom is determined to buy its way to regional hegemony, and like other actors in the Middle East, it has used proxies to leverage influence and destabilize rivals. Qatar’s proxies of choice have been radical regimes and extremist groups. In pursuit of this strategy, the gulf state is willing to dally with any partner, no matter how abhorrent. Qatar has provided financial aid and light weapons to Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria, and a base for leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban. Qatar profits from terrorism and Hamas because it spikes the price of oil whenever there is more terrorism. The emirate has also used the Arabic service of Al Jazeera news network to spread radical messages that have inflamed sectarian divides. In the early days of the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera’s coverage of popular uprisings earned the network millions of new followers and solidified its status as a mainstream global news network. Qatar capitalized on this popularity by advancing its own agenda — namely, using the Arabic network to promote the views of extremists who were undermining the region’s more pragmatic elements. In particular, Qatar’s open support for the Muslim Brotherhood angered its gulf state neighbors. In March, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Doha in protest.
This hasn’t stopped the Persian Gulf monarchy from serving as a Club Med for terrorists. It harbors leading Islamist radicals like the spiritual leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who issued a religious fatwa endorsing suicide attacks, and the Doha-based history professor Abdul Rahman Omeir al-Naimi, whom the United States Department of Treasury has named as a “terrorist financier” for Al Qaeda. Qatar also funds a life of luxury for Khaled Meshal, the fugitive leader of Hamas. Mr. Meshal’s uncompromising stance — he has vowed never to recognize Israel — has long been an obstacle to reaching a peace deal. But behind Hamas, Qatar is pulling the strings. According to a report last week in the pan-Arab daily newspaper Al Hayat, Qatar even threatened to expel Mr. Meshal if Hamas accepted Egyptian proposals for a long-term cease-fire in Gaza. All because Doha wants a starring role in any cease-fire agreement between Hamas and Israel.
It is time for the world to wake up and smell the gas fumes. Qatar has spared no cost to dress up its country as a liberal, progressive society, yet at its core, the micro monarchy is aggressively financing radical Islamist movements. In light of the emirate’s unabashed support for terrorism, one has to question FIFA’s decision to reward Qatar with the 2022 World Cup. Qatar’s continued sponsorship of Hamas all but guarantees that, whatever happens in this round of hostilities, the terrorist group will rearm and renew hostilities with Israel. The only way forward is to isolate Hamas’s last major backer. Given Qatar’s considerable affluence and influence, this is an uncomfortable prospect for many Western nations, yet they must recognize that Qatar is not a part of the solution but a significant part of the problem. To bring about a sustained calm, the message to Qatar should be clear: Stop financing Hamas.
PLAYING WITH TERROR:
HOW TO STOP QATAR’S SUPPORT FOR HAMAS
Prof. Joshua Teitelbaum
BESA, Aug. 25, 2014
Fifteen years ago very few people had ever heard of Qatar. A Persian Gulf backwater, it had little influence. Today it is the richest per capita country in the world, although that wealth is enjoyed only by 250,000 of its 1.8 million residents who actually hold Qatari citizenship. But a combination of a new and ambitious emir, huge revenues from natural gas (it has the world’s largest reserves, after Russia and Iran), and that emir’s obsessive-compulsive need to put Qatar on the map – have caused it to embark on an erratic political path. This path has taken Doha from being one of the few Arab states to have diplomatic relations with Israel to being the main backer of Israel’s implacable Palestinian foe, Hamas.
Qatar has landed a branch of the prestigious Georgetown University, and it hosts the Doha Forum, a “world class event” [Qatar’s words] of international glitterati. In 1996 it founded Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel, which angered every Arab government — except that in Doha. The government-owned Qatar Foundation is the main sponsor of the Barcelona Football Club – arguably the most famous soccer team in the world. But from the perspective of the former Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and his wife, fashion icon Sheikha Moza bint Nasir al-Misnad, his crowning achievement, as well as a testimony to the influence of money, greed, and graft, was winning a coveted prize: the hosting the FIFA Soccer World Cup in 2022. (In 2013 Hamad abdicated the throne in favor of the son he shares with Moza, Tamim.) Indeed, who in his right mind would agree to soccer matches in July in Qatar —where the average temperature is 105 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius) —without an impressive douceur? Indeed, Qatar’s labor practices while building the World Cup infrastructure have led to several deaths of foreign workers, and have come under withering criticism from human rights groups. And why should Qatar be rewarded with the World Cup when it supports Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization?
Qatar has contributed to Hamas’ emergence as a major contender to the Palestinian Authority. Qatar hosted Hamas leader Khalid Mash’al, first in 1999 when he was expelled from Jordan, and then again from 2012, when he left Syria. Qatar invited him to attend the 2009 Arab Summit in Doha, where he was seated next to Arab leaders, to the chagrin of the PA. In February 2012 it mediated a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement; in July it began delivering fuel to Gaza via Israel; and in October Emir Hamad visited Gaza, where he announced a $400m. aid program to the Islamist organization. “Today you are big guest, great guest, declaring officially the breaking of the political economic siege that was imposed on Gaza,” gushed Ismail Haniya, the Hamas prime minister. The PA felt jilted. “We call on the Qatari prince or his representative to visit the West Bank too!” screamed a headline in the leading West Bank newspaper, al-Quds. The delivery of fuel and building materials, including cement, came via Israel, as did Qatari officials and others involved in the reconstruction. The Qataris committed to purchasing much of the material in Israel. (For its part, Israel may have expected Qatar to renew diplomatic relations, broken in 2009.)
While Qatari officials say that Doha is helping the Palestinian people, not Hamas, Israeli officials are clear on this point: Doha is aiding and abetting Hamas, and Hamas is listed by the United States and others as a terrorist organization. The “terror tunnels were funded by Qatari money, ”noted Israel’s UN ambassador, Ron Prosor. Cloud technology based in Qatar guides Hamas rocket launches at Israel, and Qatar trained Hamas terrorists to manage its terror tunnel system, according to an Israeli cyber-security expert. The construction of these tunnels “under civilian populated areas and protected sites like hospitals, across borders, and/or with the intention of maiming civilians must be regarded as a violation of international law” and a war crime.
Qatar’ s support for terrorism should be enough to deny it the World Cup show; but what many do not know is that the World Cup tournament landed in Qatar due to corruption and graft. The evidence points to Qatar’s bribing of FIFA officials to receive the right to host the prestigious tournament. A Sunday Times investigation, based on a huge number of emails, reported that the decision to award the World Cup to Qatar had been influenced by payments made by former FIFA vice-president, Muhammad bin Hammam, a Qatari national. Hammam has already been removed from his position for buying votes in his campaign to become FIFA president. Hammam was allegedly in contact with the Qatar bid committee and hosted a number of lavish functions where he handed out cash gifts with the aim of securing the bid for Qatar. Qatar’s Shaykh Muhammad bin Hamad A Thani, a brother of the current emir and chair of the Qatari bid committee, described Hammam as the bid’s biggest asset. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has already said that it was a mistake to choose Qatar. The Qatari World Cup committee is currently under investigation by FIFA ethics investigator Michael Garcia, but Doha has not cooperated, refusing to supply details of its budget and how it was spent. Results of the investigation are expected in September.
Many laborers have actually died during construction, as Qatar struggles with a compressed time schedule to build an infrastructure that can support soccer events in the blistering summer heat. According to Human Rights Watch, Qatar’s labor system facilitates trafficking and forced labor. Between June 4 and August 8, 2014, 44 Nepalese workers perished from cardiac arrest and workplace accidents. The Qatari terrorist-soccer nexus came into play when Qatar’s Aspire Academy, a sports promoting organization that played a role in the Qatari bid, hosted Saudi sheikh Muhammad al-Arifi, who has been banned from the UK for urging young Britons to joint the jihad in Syria. On the same July occasion, Aspire Academy also hosted Wajdi Ghunaym, an Egyptian-Qatari preacher who was a fundraiser for Hamas. In 2009 he was banned from Britain for “engaging in unacceptable behaviour by seeking to foment, justify or glory terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs and to provoke others to commit terrorist acts.”
Taking the World Cup away from Qatar would send a strong signal to other countries that corruption and support of terrorism do not pay. It would be a setback to Qatar internationally. And it would weaken Qatar’s ability to stand up to Saudi Arabia, a loyal American ally, which, along with Israel, has stood at the forefront of countering Iranian nuclear ambitions. Through its money and mediating of conflicts, Qatar seeks a place on the world stage. Its wings need clipping. Recently US courts have agreed to hear a case against the Arab Bank for knowingly routing funds to Hamas operatives. Filed under the Antiterrorism Act of 1990, this is the first such case ever to go to trial in the US. Investigators may yet find that aspects of Qatari financing of terrorism come under the Antiterrorism Act. But right now, a strong signal need to be sent to immediately. The world community should pressure FIFA to remove the 2022 Soccer World Cup from Qatar, or boycott the event. It’s the right thing to do.
Seth J. Frantzman
Jerusalem Post, Aug. 25, 2014
Qatar seems to be everywhere these days. “Qatar plays key role in securing release of US journalist,” “Qatar denies funding ISIS,” Qatar is said to have instructed Hamas not to give in to Egyptians and Israeli demands in Cairo, Qatar’s sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor al-Thani has just won a race in his al-Adaa’am 96 Spirit Catamaran on the Lake of the Ozarks, German minister “regrets” saying Qatar was involved with Islamic extremism. Just yesterday it was reported that famed architect Zaha Hadid is suing The New York Review of Books over an article that implied she is “showing no concern” over deaths of migrant workers in the construction of 2022 World Cup venues in Doha. How did we come to live in a world where the Qataris resemble the all-powerful “spacing guild” in the science- fiction novel Dune? What implications does its rise as a regional power have and what historic precedents is it building on? The “rise of Qatar” narrative is not a new one. Middle East expert Jonathan Spyer, in an article for Tower Magazine this month, looked at Qatar’s support for Hamas and its role in the Gaza war. He concluded that “Qatar is able to play an outsized role because the West, and most importantly the United States, permits it to do so.” He noted how it has built a “strategic partnership with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, of which Hamas is an offshoot,” and that Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the movement’s high-profile preacher, “is a resident of the Qatari capital.”
To understand the rise of Qatar and its implications we need to look at how it came to play the role that it does. Gaining independence in 1971, the foundations of the modern state were laid by Khalida bin Hamad al-Thani. By the 1990s its population of a meager 100,000 had quadrupled to 500,000 and would reach 2 million by 2012. Its GDP increased ten fold from 1990. Although Qatar itself has a minuscule military, an influx of US military might and a strategic partnership was a game changer. It was also clearly part of a larger strategy of Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who overthrew his father in 1995 in a bloodless coup when his father was abroad. Hamad, born in 1952, is a graduate of the British Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was deeply involved in Qatar’s ministry of defense and armed forces. In the 1980s he took the reins of Qatar’s economy and from 1992 was effectively running the country. In the aftermath of the First Gulf War in 1991, Qatar and the US inaugurated close military ties, with the US constructing several military bases there. The multi-billion dollar base at Ubeid, which has the longest runway in the Gulf region, can support up to 120 planes at a time according to reports. US military infrastructure projects increased dramatically after 9/11 and the Iraq war. The transfer of US military assets and CENTCOM command from Saudi Arabia, particularly air force assets that had been at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, constituted a strategic re-positioning of the US in the Middle East. A $11 billion deal to upgrade Qatar’s army was signed with the US on July 15th. Many initiatives that put Qatar on the global map stem from decisions made in the 1990s. In 1996 the kingdom founded Al Jazeera with a $137 million cash infusion, and the company was run by a relative of the emir. In 1995 the country set aside funding for the Qatar Foundation for education, science and community development. Among this organization’s influential programs was the Doha Debates, inaugurated in 2004 and broadcast by the BBC. Ostensibly the debates are a forum for free speech, in a country trying to show itself off as liberalizing and modern. Toward that end it constructed an “education city” near Doha, consisting of 14 square kilometers of educational and cultural institutions, including branches of six US universities. The country also decided to make itself a sporting hub, winning rights to host the World Cup and recruiting athletes abroad for its Olympic teams in the late 1990s.
More recently, Qatar’s involvement in Middle East affairs has accelerated dramatically. In December of 2010 when an uprising broke out in Tunisia that became the “Arab Spring,” Qatar jumped at the opportunity. It helped fund movements in Libya and Tunisia and played a leading role in encouraging other Arab regimes to back the rebellion in Syria. But in March 2011 when rebellion and demands for democracy spread to the Shi’ite majority in Bahrain (the country is run by Sunnis), Bahrain and the Gulf Cooperation Council sent in troops to put down the citizens’ uprising. “The duty of the Qatari troops participating in the Peninsula Shield force is to contribute toward restoring order and security,” Qatar Army Col. Abdullah al-Hajri said at the time. It was always clear therefore that Qatar’s “soft power” offensive, its keen use of multi-media and its supposed support for liberal and free speech abroad did not blend well with its domestic policy. For example, Arab Qataris only make up around 15 percent of the country’s population, and generally speaking only they receive citizenship. Qatar’s relations with Israel have similarly changed over time. Israel maintained a small trade office there since Shimon Peres paid a visit to the country in 1996. Tzipi Livni also visited in 2008. But the country expelled the Israelis in 2009. In 2012 the emir visited Gaza and lavishly pledged $400 million in aid…
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Operation Protective Edge: Gains and Losses: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Aug. 26, 2014—The jury is still out and few would envy Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s challenge in making the tough decisions required in an extraordinarily complex situation.
An American-Led Coalition Can Defeat ISIS: Jack Keane & Danielle Pletka, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 24, 2014—Two months ago we laid out a plan on these pages to bring Iraq back from the abyss of terrorist domination, turn the tide in the Syria conflict, and crush the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.
Slavery’s Modern Face in the Middle East: Robert Fulford, National Post, Aug. 16, 2014—The world doesn’t need more reasons to be angry at the governments of the Middle East, but the West should nevertheless know about their cruel treatment of labour.
Qatar Played Now-Familiar Role in Helping to Broker U.S. Hostage’s Release: Adam Goldman & Karen DeYoung, Washington Post, Aug. 23, 2014—Last month, an American media executive arrived in Doha with a retired FBI agent known for his extensive contacts within the government of Qatar.
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