analysisMiddle East

Terror-supporting Qatar is no friend of the West

By hosting Hamas’s leaders, allowing Al Jazeera to spread anti-Israel propaganda and funding U.S. universities in exchange for influence, Qatar has demonstrated clearly it is on the side of evil.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani at the State Department in Washington, D.C. on March 5, 2024. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani at the State Department in Washington, D.C. on March 5, 2024. Credit: Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
Israel Kasnett

Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel directed global attention not only to the terror group itself, but to its financial backer, Qatar. The tiny Persian Gulf state has long been a subject of controversy in Israel, mainly because it supports Hamas, currently hosting some of the terror group’s top leaders including Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal, and runs the anti-Israel Al Jazeera news network.

In spite of its terror ties, Israel to some extent legitimized Qatar, even allowing it to deliver the famed suitcases of cash to Hamas in an effort to prevent Gaza’s economic collapse.

But according to Efraim Inbar, president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, there is no doubt that Qatar is a “rich and sophisticated enemy of Israel.”

Qatar, a major U.S. non-NATO ally, “hosts and funds the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, including its Palestinian offshoot Hamas, and owns the rabidly anti-Israel Al Jazeera TV station,” he said.

Recognizing the need to stem Qatar’s lies, false reporting and anti-Israel influence around the world through, Israel’s Knesset this week voted 71-10 to pass a law allowing the temporary closure of Al Jazeera’s Israel bureau. 

“There will be no freedom of speech for Hamas mouthpieces in Israel. Al Jazeera will be closed in the coming days,” Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi vowed following the vote.

Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani has been personally involved in mediation efforts to reach a deal between Israel and Hamas that would see the release of Israel’s hostages but many Israelis are concerned that the Biden administration is not using its clout to force Qatar to take stronger action against Hamas.

Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told JNS the Qataris “burned Israel the same way they burned the United States time and time again. They’re masters of the double game—presenting themselves as moderates who want to play a Switzerland-type role in the Middle East when in truth they are ideological and financial supporters of Islamic extremism.”

Goldberg said he doesn’t believe Qatar is an ally of the United States, “but sadly Doha has an enormous influence network bought and paid for in Washington.”

“When there’s a policy of retreat or appeasement, American officials tend to empower bad actors like Qatar to serve as interlocutors with adversaries,” he said.

Much criticism has been leveled at the way the negotiations are being handled, and there is a prevalent feeling in Israel that the United States could be doing more to pressure Qatar to get Hamas to return the hostages and surrender.

According to Goldberg, the Biden administration could and should have put maximum pressure on Qatar on Oct. 8, but didn’t.

“What was essential from day one was putting the Qataris to a choice—face severe consequences or deliver the hostages,” he said. “We never did that,” he said. 

Instead, Goldberg said, families of hostages were instructed by Qatari-funded non-profits to remain quiet and even praise Qatar. 

According to Con Coughlin, The Telegraph’s defense and foreign affairs editor and a distinguished senior fellow at Gatestone Institute, Qatar is “playing a double game by pretending that it is a neutral observer in attempts to negotiate a Gaza ceasefire with the U.S., while at the same time using its state-owned Al Jazeera news channel to propagate pro-Hamas propaganda.”

Coughlin told JNS that Israel’s willingness to allow Qatar to continue providing aid to Gaza while Hamas still controlled the enclave “now appears to have been a serious strategic miscalculation, as it is now clear that Qatari funding that was supposed to be used to provide humanitarian relief was instead diverted to fund the development of Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure.”

Washington’s relationship with Qatar “is mainly driven by its desire to maintain its Al Udeid military base in the Gulf state, which plays a key role in supporting CENTCOMs military operations in the Middle East,” Coughlin said. “This is why the U.S. State Department often turns a blind eye to the Qataris’ support for hardline Islamist groups such as Hamas, the Taliban and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Qatar’s strategic and questionable approach to funding also suggests efforts to advance nefarious state interests rather than purely philanthropic motives.

For example, the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) has just released new research regarding the flow of funds from Qatari foundations to Cornell University.

The research reveals previously unknown channels through which billions of dollars have been directed to the university, raising critical concerns about transparency and foreign influence.

According to ISGAP, the findings specifically shed light on the significant influence of Qatari state proxies, such as Qatar Foundation and Qatar National Research Fund. These entities are used to mask direct Qatari government investment in U.S. universities, as part of Qatar’s soft-power strategy regarding the West.

ISGAP’s research shows that the Qatari Emir and the Qatari government are directly behind the industry funneling billions of dollars into leading American universities such as Texas A&M, Georgetown, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern, Virginia Commonwealth and others.

In light of the findings, ISGAP has issued letters to relevant authorities calling on Cornell to close its campus at Doha Education City and expose all contracts related to the university partnership with Qatar. Earlier this month the Board of Regents at Texas A&M decided to end the university’s 20-years partnership with Qatar and close the TAMUQ campus in Qatar.

Charles Asher Small, executive director of ISGAP, called upon American universities “to follow Texas A&M’s decision to pull out from Doha Education City. Qatar, a state that supports, funds and hosts terrorists should have no place in America’s higher education.”

ISGAP initiated the “Follow the Money” research project in 2012, focusing on the illicit funding of U.S. universities by foreign entities promoting anti-democratic, antisemitic ideologies, often linked to terrorism. This ongoing investigation unearthed substantial Middle Eastern funding, primarily from Qatar, to U.S. universities, previously unreported to the Department of Education (DoED) as required by law, revealing billions of dollars in unreported funds. This groundbreaking work led to a federal government investigation in 2019. 

Despite its close ties to the United States and other Western nations, Qatar has cultivated an extensive network of Islamist partners, hosting, supporting and representing entities such as the Muslim Brotherhood, maintaining ties with Iran, hosting the Taliban, supporting Hamas and backing militias in Syria and Libya. 

It is clear that Qatar is no friend of the West. By hosting Hamas’s leaders, allowing Al Jazeera to spread anti-Israel propaganda and funding U.S. universities in exchange for influence, Qatar has demonstrated clearly it is on the side of evil.

In Inbar’s view, Israel needs to “take the gloves off” and Qatar’s leadership should “pay for their behavior.”

At the same time, he added, “Israel should increase efforts to delegitimize Qatar’s behavior in the United States.” 

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