Qatar's Emir and Ismail Haniyeh 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Mouse that Roared was a 1955 literary satire which revolved around a tiny fictional duchy that ends up holding the world to ransom in midst of the Cold War. A sinister variation on yesteryear’s wacky theme appears to be enacted right now with diminutive Qatar – international terrorism’s single greatest bankroller – avidly wooed by the West and getting its own way.
It needs be stressed that Qatar, which sways democracies, is not remotely democratic and its leadership is unelected.
With 11,000 square kilometers, oil-glutted Qatar is about half little Israel’s size. Its native population numbers some 200,000, but it has more than 2 million foreign workers. They lack any civil rights and many of them toil under slave-like conditions.
Qatar has become a particular favorite of the Obama administration, which bolsters Qatari pretensions to parade as an intermediary between Israel and Hamas, regardless of the fact that Doha unequivocally backs Hamas and foots its bills.
While Israel demands a demilitarized Gaza Strip – with its lethal rocket stockpiles and death-tunnels eliminated – it was Qatari funding that got Hamas its firepower and enabled it to dig under the border with Israel in the first place.
To be sure, Hamas is only one of Qatar’s many pet projects, all distinctly of the jihadist variety.
Qatar is the generous benefactor of al-Qaida, the Islamic State, al-Nusra, the Muslim Brotherhood and kindred outfits. Besides keeping them in the money, Qatar also actively spreads their message via its Al Jazeera network.
Qatar has incontrovertibly ignited and fanned the flames of the misnamed Arab Spring.
Qatar has proved itself a disruptive element – to resort to gross understatement – in the entire region, from its interference in Turkish politics (on the side of its ally Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan) and all the way to picking up the tab for a plethora of jihadist interlopers in Syria and Iraq, to meddling in Saudi Arabia, in neighboring Gulf states, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.
It aggressively proselytizes for converts to Islam in Africa.
Qatar’s footprint is everywhere.
Qatar has become the veritable hub of the Sunni axis it props up. No wonder Hamas’s Khaled Mashaal has made Qatar his base of operations, as has his aide, fugitive spy Azmi Bishara, the ex-Israeli MK and founder of Balad. Also domiciled in Qatar is Sheikh Yusuf Kardawi, an extreme Muslim cleric who keeps praising Hitler, who justified suicide bombing against Jews and who os one of the chief mentors of the Qatari emir. The latter’s fundamentalist Islamic bent is hardly a secret.
All the while, Qatar has made itself the West’s darling.
It managed – by hook or by crook – to wheedle approval to host the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament. This, regardless of Qatar’s status as a prime sponsor of terrorism – to say nothing of its unsuitable climate or the wretched conditions under which workers erect the games’ facilities.
The price of this prestige-boosting enterprise alone could solve all Palestinian economic problems several times over, but Qatari money is not earmarked for such purposes.
Moreover, Qatar’s stake in the 2022 World Cup is itself a gargantuan model of influence-peddling.
Mostly American firms are contracted to build the infrastructure, thereby intensifying American business interests in Qatar. There are also other mammoth construction projects that flow into the American economy, gigantic arms deals with the cash-strapped US, the establishment of colossal American air and naval bases in Qatar, contracts to buy US-made aircraft, and massive academic grants.
All this, and much more, wins miniature Qatar enormous clout. Its multifaceted economic involvement is pivotal. In Europe, Qatar’s burgeoning banking sector control has given it make-or-break power. Its sway over the masses includes the sponsorship of popular sports teams (such as Barcelona FC), and purchases of trendy brands and of extravagant luxury emporiums favored by the European elites.
Had any vestiges of fairness existed, the World Cup would be relocated and Qatar’s role in commissioning strife throughout the Middle East would be critically scrutinized.
But Qatar buys worldwide esteem and chumminess in the halls of American and European governments.
This is what Israel must contend with.