Qatari Emir in Gaza

The so-called courageous Israeli-siege-breaking visit of Qatari Emir to the six years besieged Gaza carries with it so many controversial meanings and more questions than answers. One could not help but question the real motivations behind such a visit at this particular time: did it come as a solidarity visit with Hamas and as humanitarian aid to the devastated starving Palestinians or an attempt to contain Hamas under the pro-Zionist Qatari wing and a manipulation of the suffering Palestinians?

The Qatari Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, visited Gaza Strip Tuesday October 23 accompanied by his wife, Sheikha Mozah, in a 61 person entourage for only few hours. During his visit the Emir had doubled Qatar’s financial donation to the long-due Gaza Rebuilding Project, promised by the Arab states, to $400 million. He also promised to provide Gaza with the urgently needed fuel and gas and with the building materials through Egypt. The Emir also will finance a major housing project; The Hamad Village, a hospital for artificial limbs, and the reconstruction of the two important boulevards in Gaza.

The Emir’s visit is the first one for an Arab leader to visit Gaza since 1999 and the first for an Arab leader to break the Israeli siege of Gaza. Many called this a very courageous and historic visit and called upon the other Arab leaders to follow.

Although the visit was praised by many yet it was also condemned by many others not just Israeli officials but also officials in the Palestinian Authority and pro-Fatah politicians. This visit had angered PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, and his assigned, not elected, government headed by Salam Fayyad. They considered the visit a recognition of the Hamas government that Abbas had dissolved. Abbas and Fatah consider themselves to be the only legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people and thus the Qatari Emir should have visited the PA in Ramallah rather than Hamas in Gaza. They accused the Emir of bolstering the Palestinian division when they, themselves, had planned the failed coup against the democratically elected Hamas leadership causing the division, and not adopting any of the reconciliation agreements, and lately had run municipality elections without Hamas representatives but, even though, had lost it. Now Mahmoud Abbas started talking about a complete separation between the West Bank and Gaza.

Pro-Fatah officials in Gaza had rejected an invitation to receive the Emir side by side with Hamas leadership. Atef Abu Saif, the Fatah official in Gaza had sent an official apology to Hamas refusing to join them in the reception. The Emir himself stated that he, personally, had called Mahmoud Abbas inviting his company in the visit to Gaza, but Abbas refused demanding that Hamas, first, sign the Egyptian reconciliation agreement. The Emir had criticized Abbas and accused him of sabotaging all reconciliation efforts to re-unite the Palestinians. Such criticism and accusation were echoed by some Qatari news writers and Al-Jazeera TV speakers.

The Hamas leadership and the Palestinians in Gaza had welcomed the Emir, celebrated his visit, and bestowed on him, and on his wife, the highest honors. Somebody stated that a hungry monkey would dance to the tune of the person who feeds him regardless of the real intentions or any ulterior motives that person might have. This is not meant to belittle Hamas or Palestinians’ patriotism or dignity, rather to point to the wickedness and manipulation of those who abuse their just cause. They are very, very hungry for life and for their inhumane suffering to be recognized and be healed. Any gift that could grant them a breather and refresh their hopes in life is welcomed even though it may come from Zionised American-occupied Qatari Sheikhdom.

One may wonder what the real goals of the Emir’s visit are. Did the visit come out of the pure goodness of his heart and his wish to help deprived Palestinians? If so, then why did the visit come now and not few years earlier or not immediately after the 2009 devastating Israeli attack when the Palestinians needed help so badly? What reminded him of Gaza reconstruction four long years after its devastation compared to his generous $100 million donation to rebuild the American city of New Orleans immediately after the 2005 Hurricane Katrina? How come Israel did not block the Emir’s visit when its pirating troops violated all international laws and hijacked all humanitarian ships bound to Gaza?

To understand the meaning of this visit one needs to examine the Emir’s background and his political views (if he really has any).
The Emir Hamad is the eldest son of his father Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani. He was not a particularly smart person. He failed high school and was reportedly kicked out of Sandhurst Military Academy in England. Yet his father granted him the title of Major General and appointed him as the Commander in Chief of the Qatari Armed forces. His political ambitions did not surface until he married his second wife, Sheikha Mozah, the daughter of Nasser bin Abdullah Al Missned, who was the strongest political opponent to the ruler Sheikh Khalifa bin Al Thani, the father of the present Emir. Al Missned lived in exile until a political alliance with Al Thani was proposed through Marriage of his daughter Mozah to Emir Hamad.

Sheikha Mozah, initially and later on, with Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Al Thani, are the real political drivers behind the Emir’s political ambitions. Mozah turned Hamad against his father Khalifa. Hamad deposed his father and took his place in what is dubbed as the TV coup. After locking his father in the bathroom, Hamad went out to greet the sheikhdom officials and then broadcast their greetings as their approval of his coup and designating him the ruler Emir. He exposed his father’s corruption and hired an American law firm to force the Swiss banks to seize his father’s accounts. A counter coup led by the father’s loyalists and Hamad’s own sons from his first wife failed leading to stripping these sons of their titles and positions and replacing them with Mozah’s own sons — a goal Mozah was striving for to strengthen her own family’s, Al Missned, political position.

To strengthen his rule and to prevent any further coups against him, Emir Hamad invited the American administration to establish a military base in Qatar. Through Al-Jazeera TV the Saudi people were incited to demand the shutdown of the American Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. The Qatari Emir, then, opened his country to the US to establish the largest American air base in the Gulf region; Al Udeid Air Base and Camp As-Sayliyah. The base served as logistics, command and base hubs for the US Central Command (CENTCOM) area of operations that included Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. The base was also the source of the cluster bombs Israel dropped on Southern Lebanon in 2006 and of the white phosphorous bombs Israel used to bomb Gaza Strip in 2008/2009. It was reported that these shipments were supervised by the Emir Sheikh Hamad personally.

Similar to all the Arab dictators, subservient to the American military protection and political support, Qatar was instructed to normalize relationship with Israel. This started with opening Israeli trade offices in Doha, then upgraded to mutual official visitations and meetings to establish trade agreements especially supplying Israel with cheap Qatari gas. Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Shimon Peres, was seen shopping in local shops in Doha, and visiting Al-Jazeera TV headquarters to insure it suppresses its criticism of Israeli terrorism against Palestinians. Emir Hamad and his Foreign Minister, Hamad bin Jassim, had visited Tel Aviv to strike gas deals and to ostensibly learn from the Israeli brain-washing scholastic curriculum to use it against Qatari school children. They, also, had frequent meetings with Israeli officials in France. The news and youtube are full of reports and video clips of such meetings.

The Emir’s visit to Gaza came in full Israeli coordination and American approval. The Israelis waited until the Emir had left Gaza in order to conduct a raid allegedly in retaliation for an Israeli soldier, who got injured by a mine on the Gaza border. The Israeli criticism of the Emir’s visit came only to shove another wedge in the Palestinian division claiming that the visit showed that the Emir is backing the Islamist Hamas rulers over the Western-backed Palestinian Authority of president Abbas. The Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson; Yigal Palmor, stated: “We find it weird that the Emir doesn’t support all of the Palestinians, but sides with Hamas over the Palestinian Authority (in the West Bank) which he has never visited”.

As for the fuel and construction materials Qatar promised to ship to Gaza, Israel will easily block their delivery or/and divert most of it to Israel instead. Egyptian military source stated that Israel is expected to oppose the delivery of fuel and construction materials donated by Qatar to Gaza thus Egypt may refuse to deliver Qatari aid to Gaza Strip.

On the regional arena Qatar seems to have appointed itself as an emissary for spreading the American style democracy either through bribery or through financing and arming militia groups and terrorists to affect regime change. After the 2006 Israeli aggression against Southern Lebanon, the Qatari Emir hastened to donate millions to rebuild the southern towns in an attempt to gain the residents away from Hezbollah. In Libya, Qatar financed, trained, and armed rebels and terrorists to topple Gaddafi’s regime, then tried to impose its political solutions on the new government. After the Egyptian revolution and ousting of Mubarak, Egypt had asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $3.2 billion aid package to support the country’s flagging economy. When the IMF refused the request, the Qatari Emir Hamad bin Al Thani visited Egypt, his first visit to the country, and granted the newly elected Egyptian government a $2 billion loan.

It is obvious to everybody by now that Qatar is playing the leading role, as it did in Libya, in the Syrian crises. Qatar has gathered mercenary militias of Al-Qaeda terrorists, religious extremists, and anti-Syrian opposition, financed them, trained them, and armed them to destroy Syria as a whole, not just toppling the government. Qatar has played an aggressive role in calling for international military intervention in Syria. Qatari money has also been invested in recruiting anti-Syrian inciters especially Lebanese and Egyptian Islamic clerics and religious school teachers, who had been put on Qatari payroll for the rest of their lives on the condition of calling for jihad against Syrian government. Many had suspected Qatari/Israeli involvement in the explosion that killed Lebanese Security Chief Wissam al-Hasan on October 20th to incite March 14 Coalition to topple the pro-Hezbollah government.
During his visit to Mauritania the Qatari Emir lectured the President, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, urging him to adopt democracy. As a response Abdel Aziz criticized the Qatari policies of supporting rebels against governments and advised the Emir to adopt what he preaches in his own country first. The Emir had also ignored the calls of his next door neighbors, Yeminis and Bahrainis, for freedom and democracy.

Qatar is a dictatorship which does not respect even the basic human right of freedom of speech. In a secret court, Qatari judges had sentenced the poet Mohammad al-Ajami, who praised the Arab Spring in Tunisia and criticized the Gulf States who resort to American protection. Even President Obama had criticized the Emir for he, through his Al-Jazeera TV, keeps calling for reforming and democratizing the Arab world while he is not democratizing his own country, of which 75% of its citizens are foreigners not indigenous Qatari.

There is much to say about this Emir’s personality, political views and humanitarian ideology featuring prominent betrayal of his own father, his own children, his own countrymen and his Arab brothers. So, what is the Emir’s motive for his donations to Gaza, which could be considered mere peanuts compared to the billions he spent arming terrorists in Libya and Syria? The comments of his Foreign Minister, Hamad bin Jassim, to members of the so-called Syrian National Council after Khaled Mashal, the Chairman of Hamas Political Bureau, moved his office from Damascus, Syria to Doha, Qatar, could shed some light. Bin Jassim stated that Hamas, as a resistance movement, is finished.

Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer of Palestinian descent, born in the town of Beit-Jala and now living in the US. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Elias.