We are all familiar with the legend of Aladdin and the genie that comes out of the lamp he finds in a cave. The most imaginative and affecting part of the story is definitely that powerful genie who emerges as a result of Aladdin’s rubbing the lamp and makes all of Aladdin’s wishes come true. The reason is simple: all of us secretly wish we could find a magic lamp that would release a genie who would turn all our desires to reality.
The former Emir of Qatar was just like Aladdin. He found a gas well in the Persian Gulf that made the Emirate of Qatar rich and turned it into a world class financial power. But finance did not satisfy the power-hungry Emir, who wanted influence and control as well, finding it by way of the al Jazeera Media Network he established in 1996, a broadcasting outlet that granted him the ability to control the rulers of Arab countries through information about them – both true and false – that he spread via the media. The embarrassing revelations about these rulers made al Jazeera the most watched network in the world.
That, too, was not enough for the Emir. He wanted to overthrow Arab regimes, and after being instruted by Sheikh Dr. Yusef Al Karadawi, his goal became to advance the Muslim Brotherhood to a position of control. The Brotherhood is not a social welfare organization, it is an ideological hothouse for violence, terror and Jihad, and has spawned all the Sunni terror organizations including Hamas, Egyptian and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Jabhat al Nusra, Anṣār Bayt al-Maqdis, al Qaeda and Islamic State. Arab rulers have known for years that Qatar encourages and finances anti-establishment organizations that have a political-religious cast, those that intend to take over the regimes in every one of the Arab states.
As long as Qatar’s efforts to undermine Arab rulers did not bear fruit, the regimes allowed the Emirate to act from within their countries, figuring that their bark is worse than their bite. But ever since the bloodbath known as the “Arab Spring” began, it has slowly entered their collective consciousness that the cause of this whole “Spring” – more aptly named “Hell” – was Qatar, its Emir, its money and the al Jazeera network. More and more people began openly blaming Qatar for creating the present situation by encouraging terror in the media and by the massive sums with which it funded the struggles against rulers supported by the West.
After General Sisi rid Egypt of Muslim Brotherhood representative President Morsi, putting an end to Morsi’s presidency in July, 2013, al Jazeera opened a new media channel aimed at Egypt and meant to return Morsi to power and depose Sisi. All the al Jazeera channels were careful not to call Sisi “president”, despite his being voted in by tens of millions of Egyptians. However, this past year, now that ISIS has arisen on the ruins of Syria and Iraq, the long-lasting patience of Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Egypt and other Arab nations has waned. In order to give Qatar fair warning, they removed their embassies from the country, explaining that Qatar encourages the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and that it sends significant financial backing to Islamic State.
Blaming Qatar for encouraging terror is a way of justifying the Emirate’s punishment, perhaps starting with an armed Saudi invasion along the lines of what the Saudis did to Bahrain. Qatar is a peninsula surrounded on three sides by the Persian Gulf – the fourth side, however, is Saudi Arabia. It seems as though the Americans know a good deal about Qatar’s involvement in financing ISIS terror, and perhaps have hinted to the Saudis that nothing terrible would happen if Saudi Arabia took over Qatar, deposed the ruling House of Thani and annexed the peninsula. If this brought to an end Qatari support for terror aimed at America, the US would see it as a fair price to pay.
As soon as the House of Thani saw that it was being left to stand alone, surrounded by countries willing to swallow it whole without any significant American opposition, the ruling family, led by the Emir, realized that the game was up and that the time had come for a change in policy. Qatar arranged a “meeting” of the Gulf States, “listened attentively” to the orders of Saudi King Abdullah, and “decided to agree to the requests of its Arab brothers.”
The Qataris closed the Egyptian al Jazeera channel, and crawled on all fours to Cairo accompanied by a Saudi supervisor in order to “solve their differences” with that country.
Al Jazeera also began calling Sisi by the title “President”.
This is the saga of Qatar’s submission to Saudi dictates, and America – it is now clear – in its relations with Qatar, once again bet on the wrong horse. A determined coalition of Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Egypt succeeded in ending American support of Qatar, and the Egyptian sense of victory was expressed this week by the Egyptian Prime Minister’s declaring that he would not permit the American ambassador in Cairo to meet with Muslim Brotherhood people in Egypt, as it is contrary to the Egyptian law which considers the Brotherhood a terror organization.
Egypt, backed by the Saudis and the Emiratis, forced America to kowtow to its policy towards the Muslim Brotherhood. Obama, after the defeat he suffered in the mid-term congressional elections, does not feel strong enough to oppose a determined coalition, especially since Qatar is up to its ears in funding terror, including ISIS.
All that remains is to check if Qatar has really stopped funding terror organizations or is continuing to do so behind the backs of countries that have lowered their guard. Qatar has employed devious stratagems to transfer funds to terror organizations in the past by using private individuals. It is essential that countries hurt by Qatar’s actions in the past – and this includes Israel – follow the flow of monies that leave Qatar to ensure that there is no more terror funding.
Iran Jumps on the Bandwagon
If Qatar has really changed its policy towards the Muslim Brotherhood organization and its offshoots, these organizations are going to find themselves without support, especially financial support. This refers to Hamas and the political Islamic groups in Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and especially Syria and Iraq, where these organizations are actively taking part in the fighting. The leaders of Iran realize the change forced on Qatar and have already announced that they are ready and willing to take its place as a source of funding.
With respect to Hamas, the Iranian spokesmen were clear: they are willing to finance a Hamas takeover of Judea and Samaria. Thanks to Europe’s readiness to recognize a Palestinian State, the Iranians already see that state established with its capital in Jerusalem, and all that remains, in their opinion, is to see to it that Hamas controls it. That will enable Iran to destroy the State of Israel with Iranian rockets that Hamas terrorists will fire on the areas “wrapping” Judea and Samaria, from Dimona and Beer Sheva in the south, all along the coastal plan and Gush Dan, and ending in Afula and Beit Shean in the north.
As far as I know, the issue of funding terror is not on the agenda of the negotiations between Iran and the Western powers. Today, with the growth of worldwide terror – in Australia and France just recently – Iran may decide to finance terrorists operating in the West, Shiites and Sunnis, especially if these terrorists feel the lack of funds that Qatar has stopped sending them.
The West can learn how to carry out negotiations with a wayward country from the Saudis and the Emirates. The West has been negotiating with Iran for seventeen long years without succeeding in forcing her to cease her nuclear plans. Saudi Arabia and the Emirates needed one year of pressure, accompanied by believable threats, to change the hostile policies of Qatar.
From this podium, I would like to take the opportunity to recommend that those negotiating with Iran find out what is really happening behind the scenes in the Egyptian, Saudi and Emirates’ negotiations with Qatar, in order to learn how to manage negotiations in the Middle East.
Reprinted with author’s permission from Arutz Sheva