The Qatar Conundrum 88


Qatar is the most politically liberal of the Gulf states (admittedly a low bar). It hosts Al Jazeera TV and the Doha Debates. You can drink in its hotels and women can walk around uncovered, drive cars, and associate comparatively freely. Its universities are western in feel and appearance. There are of course many things to criticise, above all the treatment, conditions and lack of rights of migrant workers, lack of women’s and LGBT rights and freedom of speech, and the absence of meaningful democracy. But Saudi Arabia it isn’t.

For Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Co-operation Council states to claim Qatar is the main sponsor of state terrorism, and put it under potentially crippling blockade, is the most monstrous example of the pot calling the kettle black. Qatar has indeed financed violent groups in the Middle East and participated in the war in Yemen, but in both cases on a far less grand scale than Saudi Arabia.

What is really behind this blockade against Qatar is an attack on another aspect of its liberalism. Qatar is unenthusiastic about the USA/Israel/Saudi de facto alliance, which has already been in evidence for a couple of years, and which the Trump mission to the Middle East looked to turbocharge. Qatar refused to endorse the overthrow of Egypt’s democratically elected President by the CIA-backed military coup of General Sisi. Qatar also has deep reservations about the Saudi Wahhabist mission to spread sectarian war against the Shia across the Middle East. Qatar further deserves praise because the plight of the Palestinians is a far higher priority for Doha than it is for Riyadh. The Saudis have no problem with selling out the Palestinians completely to secure their own standing with the Western elites and further their rivalry with Iran.

The extent to which Qatar has been able to act upon its different instincts to its much larger and more powerful neighbour has been limited, and by and large it has been obliged to go along with the Saudis in the Gulf Cooperation Council without expressing too much dissent. It is Trump’s visit and the desire of the Saudis to increase the security coordination with the USA and Israel which has forced the Qatari Royal Family to take a stand of principle, which sadly they are unlikely to be unable to maintain in the face of the blockade.

It is a straw in the wind that a figure like me was able to be invited two months ago to be the guest speaker at Al Jazeera’s gala dinner. My pro-Palestinian views are very well known as are my criticisms of both the United States and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, they can be the only possible reason I was invited to go and sit at a table with members of the Qatari royal family and give a very public speech.

I have been challenged to produce a recording of that speech, and some commenters have suggested I am hiding something. The truth is I never write my speeches, as anyone who has seen me speak will know, and that I understand it was broadcast live with only the Arabic interpreter as sound, but I have been unable to find a recording anywhere. However I recall my closing sentence fairly accurately, and it was aimed very squarely at the Saudis.

“If you find yourself in an alliance, even a de facto alliance, with a state which is conducting a slow genocide against people of your own race and your own religion, then you may be motivated by self-interest, but you have in fact mistaken your own self-interest.”

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88 thoughts on “The Qatar Conundrum

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    • Anonymous

      The Saudis (presumably with Trump’s approval) are trying to throw Qatar under the bus. One reason is that Qatar also signed deals with Iranian energy companies a while back. In rtesponse to the economic blockade, the Qataris have recently revealed that the email account of the UAE Ambassador to the US was hacked on 3 June. It contained some interesting information, such as UAE’s involvement in the coup in Turkey, and UAE’s assocations with the Zionist thinktank Foundation for Defense of Democracies, relating to Hamas and Egypt. I bet they have dirt on the financial dealing involved in supplying ISIS with arms – lots of CIA front companies for example. The US also has a massive airbase in Doha (equivalent to Incirlik in Turkey – but bigger and more strategic). Presumably, if things get really dirty, the US could lose access there if it doesn’t control its dogs of war.

      • Ba'al Zevul

        It’s going to be interesting to see if the US base will allow the transit through it of relief supplies, as Qatar is probably going to need them. Dilemma for Trump: US as Jolly Giant vs US as Saudi ally…no prizes for guessing which, btw.

        • SA

          The US is very skilled at supporting both sides of a dispute. After all supplying both sides makes you more money.

  • nevermind

    Ba’al sent a link on the last thread to the announcement/sweetener today that ARAMCO is selling off a 3?/5% stake in the Saudi national oil company, do the delight of bankers, JP Morgan was mentioned. I think the events of giving out sweeties whilst pointing fingers at Qatar are linked and were planned that way.

    Its like a school yard out there, kids ganging up with the bully to have a go at his ex friend, who doesn’t want to give them any sweets anymore and. The bully is now offering the teacher his sandwich, so he turns around says nothing about his ganging up.

  • Manda

    To continue with my diversion about Syria I just listened to a conversation. which I missed yesterday, with Rev. Andrew Ashdown who is just back from five weeks in Syria. It is an insight into Syria today, the gross misrepresentation of Syria in MSM and by many politicians, how Syrians view the ‘rebels’/terrorists, and touches on terrorism in Britain and British Imperial actions in the Middle East over a long period as a part of what is happening today in UK and west as well as in the ME. I found it very interesting indeed. I think these and other views need to be voiced strongly in the debate on terrorism which cannot be isolated from foreign policy no matter how much May might wish to and press ahead setting up what may become a de facto police state if these discussions are kept out of the mainstream.

    Interview begins at 34.40 to 1.17.34 on the link below.
    https://www.spreaker.com/user/acrnetwork/episode-188-sunday-wire-after-the-grand-?utm_medium=widget&utm_source=user%3A7623132&utm_term=episode_title

  • Anonymous

    FWIW, on June 1, 2017, the Institute of Gulf Affairs produced a report detailing the numbers of Saudi and Kuwaiti students studying in the US who have joined ISIS in the last few years. The authors claim 400 such students are now ISIS members. The report includes details such as name, phoitographs and the like.

    “The report also reveals how the Saudi government blocked this information
    from U.S. authorities and did very little to stop the flow of Saudis in the U.S. from joining ISIS and other armed groups in Syria and Iraq”.

    The IGA is a Saudi non-profit think tank, but is directed and funded by an anti-regime individual.

    https://www.gulfinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/From-US-Campuses-to-ISIS-Camps.pdf

  • fwl

    FT this evening reports that Qatari payment via Iran of 1billion US Dollars ransom said to be for the Dec 2015 kidnapping of members of their royal family is behind the falling out and the piece ends with and a reference to the confiscation of hundreds of millions of dollars arriving in Iraq in suitcases from Qatar.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Kuwait Airways KAC617v just landing at Doha – presumably Kuwait hasn’t joined the embargo. A Bahrain Defence Force Avro RJ100 is stooging around between Bahrain and Qatar – as far as I can work out it has no special surveillance capability, though.

  • Paul Barbara

    @ Manda
    June 5, 2017 at 18:31
    To continue with my diversion about Syria I just listened to a conversation. which I missed yesterday, with Rev. Andrew Ashdown who is just back from five weeks in Syria. It is an insight into Syria today, the gross misrepresentation of Syria in MSM and by many politicians, how Syrians view the ‘rebels’/terrorists, and touches on terrorism in Britain and British Imperial actions in the Middle East over a long period as a part of what is happening today in UK and west as well as in the ME. I found it very interesting indeed. I think these and other views need to be voiced strongly in the debate on terrorism which cannot be isolated from foreign policy no matter how much May might wish to and press ahead setting up what may become a de facto police state if these discussions are kept out of the mainstream.

    Interview begins at 34.40 to 1.17.34 on the link below.
    https://www.spreaker.com/user/acrnetwork/episode-188-sunday-wire-after-the-grand-?utm_medium=widget&utm_source=user%3A7623132&utm_term=episode_title

    I heard him speak with Vanessa Beeley in Bristol about Syria; they had both just got back from Syria. But needless to say they get no MSM coverage – wouldn’t do for the truth to get out, would it?
    Vanessa Beeley is speaking again in Frome on Sunday 11th June; I’m going along, as it should be a good talk:

    Professor Piers Robinson discusses media myths and lies for war. Piers with Professor Tim Hayward, investigative journalists Patrick Henningsen, Vanessa Beeley and Robert Stuart will be placing the ‘Media on Trial’ in Frome on Sunday 11th June for Frome Stop War, at the Cheese & Grain, Market Square – 7p.m. Further details to come.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nv8i0XVhLU

    • fwl

      Paul
      Thanks for that link to the interview with Rev Andrew Ashdown. It is worth listening to.

      Even if one should support ultra Tory policies, would like to deconstruct large parts of the welfare state, impose a 10% flat tax and a libertarian right wing freedom for the sheep to graze with the wolf listen to what the Rev has to say and you may find yourself voting Corbyn anyway.

  • Paul Barbara

    Israel encouraged the Muslim Brotherhood (created by Britain) to go into Gaza, and they created Hamas, with Israel’s blessing. The idea was to weaken the PLO.
    Morsi was going to send large numbers of Egyptians to fight Assad; I believe Sisi is far better than Morsi.
    He is closer to Russia, which I welcome wholeheartedly, and I hope this ‘friendship’ increases.
    I do not condone Human Rights abuses under Sisi, but Morsi was ‘at it’ too:
    ‘One year into Mohamed Morsi’s term: Manifold abuses and the systematic undermining of the rule of law’:
    http://www.cihrs.org/?p=6849&lang=en

    It is time Egyptians learnt the truth about America and Israel (whom they had been cosying up to pre Sisi.
    In 1967, LBJ and Israel colluded in a plan which had Cairo just three minutes away from a nuclear holocaust.
    LBJ had colluded with Israel’s Deputy Israeli Ambassador to Washington, Ephraim ‘Eppie’ Evron just ten days before the 1967 Six-Day War. The plan was LBJ would send an unarmed (apart from two 50 caliber anti-pirate machine guns) spyship, the USS Liberty, to cruise off the Sinai coast, in International waters. Israel would then attack and sink it, leaving no survivors.
    It would be blamed on Egypt, and American planes would nuke Egypt.
    It worked like clockwork, except the USS Liberty refused to sink. Nuclear armed A4’s were launched from the Sixth Fleet off Crete, and also from a North African US base. They were recalled when just three minutes from targets.
    (source ‘Operation Cyanide’ by Peter Hounam (ex-Chief Investigative Journalist on the Sunday Times, and the one who broke the story about Mordechai Vanunu and Israel’s nukes. He was commissioned by the BBC to make ‘Dead in the Water’, about the Liberty – he then went on to write the book. “USS Liberty: Dead In The Water” (BBC Documentary 2002):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjOH1XMAwZA The video documentary is very informative, but obviously the book is more so).

    I shall be demonstrating this Thursday (50th Anniversary of the attack on the Liberty) outside the US Embassy from 12:00 – 14:30 and at the Israeli Embassy 15:00 – 18:00.

  • Randal

    “If you find yourself in an alliance, even a de facto alliance, with a state which is conducting a slow genocide against people of your own race and your own religion, then you may be motivated by self-interest, but you have in fact mistaken your own self-interest.”

    Interesting that you instinctively espouse such a straightforwardly correct position (that one’s natural first loyalty should be to those of one’s own race and/or religion) when speaking for others, but would undoubtedly (having applied the standard establishment antiracist ideological filter) regard any such suggestion relating to your own (or perhaps to English, British, white or Christian) race and/or religion as the most loathsome bigotry and prejudice.

    Thus does ideology make fools of even the brightest.

    • Temporarily Sane

      Who is threatening “English, British, white or Christian” people with genocide or invasion and massive violence?

  • Treasa Ní Cheannabháin

    Well said! Qatar is guilty of exposing the evil deeds of Elsisi & Mubarak, through Aljazeera since it’s foundation. ( First through Al Jazeera Arabic & through Al Jazeera English since 2005) & has always given fantastic coverage to Israels genocide of Palestinians!

  • Mary Daly

    This is the most uneducated, self-serving piece I have read in a long time. The author certainly does not know Qatar or its neighbors. Does he know about the young Qatari poet who privately wrote a poem about the Arab Spring, at his friend’s urging read it to a small.group in a private home outside Qatar and was later sentenced to life imprisonment? Later the term was reduced to a MERE 15 years!!!!

    Ho about the treatment of the laborers? The bought Wirld Cup? Etc.

    My only question is how much was paid to write this delusional article????

  • laguerre

    Today’s suicide assault on the Iranian parliament in Tehran, and on Khomeini’s tomb must be related to what we’re discussing here. It’s a suicide attack, according to reports, so it must be Iranian salafis of some kind, maybe even Arabs from Abbadan. Shi’a don’t do suicide attacks (except in Israeli creative imagination). It’s a Sunni thing. The Arabs of Khuzistan have always been pretty unhappy. Maybe it was even ordered from Saudi, as part of their assault on Iran.

  • Heather Stroud

    Brilliant article by Craig Murray.
    Some of us in the U.K. will remember that not long Al Jazeera did an expose on the extent to which the Israeli Government and friends of Israel, were able to influence leading UK government officials.

  • Dana April Seidenberg

    The prescient comments of Craig Murray should be required reading by all who love justice and fair play. Palestine needs the attention of all of us to push world leaders to end the apartheid regime in that sorrowful country.The settler-dominated colonial state of Israel needs to be replaced by a democratic, secular nation that is inclusive of all Palestinian refugees who want to return. Just as the renowned pianist and conductor, Daniel Barenboim acknowledged, many of us who have Jewish blood running through our veins…have our heart in the liberation of Palestine.

  • Karlin Rushbrooke

    Looking for some possible truth about Qatar and found your site and article. Bless you Mr Murray. Great to see you are still around and tragic there are not more like you. When the news came out about Qatar across the media including BBC with no commentary I was immediately suspicious and was sure it would be related to the West’s view of Iran, it’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia etc etc.

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