A Major New Player in Middle East Politics…the Emirate of Qatar

Hamad bin Khalifa
Hamad bin Khalifa

A new major player is the ruler of the Emirate of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa, who holds 14 per cent of the world’s gas resources and hosts the Forward Headquarters of the American Central Command and its Combined Operations Center, apart from owning the worldwide Al Jazeera channel.

Two years after the start of the Arab Spring, however, Qatar’s carefully cultivated reputation as a western partner — and as a neutral broker in the region — is increasingly muddled.

Sheikh Khalifa took active part in the NATO-led ouster of Muammar Gaddafi and was the first Arab ruler to recognize the Libyan National Council. He is spearheading Arab opposition to President Assad. He has visited Gaza and doled out $400 million to the Hamas leadership, to counter Iranian influence.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal maintains a residence in Qatar, while the Taliban opened their first representation in a foreign country in its capital, Doha.

With billions of dollars in natural gas and oil revenue, it is bankrolling a new generation of Islamists across the Middle East, raising questions about its vision for the region and whether some of its policies are in direct conflict with US interests. Those questions are complicated by the country’s apparent eagerness to retain influence in the West.

Since deposing his father in a bloodless coup in 1995, Sheikh Khalifa has transformed its capital, Doha, from a dusty Gulf backwater into an intellectual and diplomatic centre in the Middle East.

Sheikh Khalifa, who has cultivated the image of a pro-Western reformist, vowed to “spare no effort” to spread the teachings of Wahhabi Islam across “the whole world”. Last December

Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Mosque
Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Mosque

Qatari Emir inaugurated the “Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab” Mosque in Doha, dedicated to the founder of the most virulent, anti-Jewish and totalitarian Islamic school of religion.  11,000 men can offer prayers in the air conditioned central hall and the special enclosure is spacious enough for 1200 women. On the whole the mosque can hold a congregation of 30,000 people.

Qatar’s octopus is working on three fronts: overthrowing despotic Arab regimes and replace these with sharia-based countries; destroying Israel by financing the terror groups (the emir just visited Gaza) – and Islamizing the European continent through mosques and investments.

The Qataris invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the peace effort in Darfur, Sudan, hosting armed rebels, refugees and tribal leaders in luxury hotels in Doha for talks.

In Lebanon, Qatar gained international plaudits for its skillful mediation, which fostered a national government involving pro-Iranian Hezbollah and a pro-Western faction.

Qatar has an ambiguous relationship with Iran, signing a military defence agreement with Tehran in 2010 and maintaining close ties with its traditional proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah.

More recently, Qatar has served as a check on Iranian influence, backing the military overthrow of its closest ally, Syria, and seeking to replace Tehran as Hamas’s benefactor.

In Germany, Qatar’s sovereign fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, owns 17 percent of Volkswagen, 10 percent of Porsche and 9 percent of construction giant Hochtief.

In Italy, to mention just one well known firm, Qatar just bought Valentino’s fashion style company, while AC-Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi is also ready to sell the powerhouse to the ruling Emir of the State of Qatar.

In the UK, the Qatar Muslims own swathes of the Canary Wharf financial district in London. Qatar also owns 20 per cent of the London Stock Exchange.

Qatar invested in the Paris St. Germain soccer club and it is an investor in the French Total Oil group, as well as British Shell.

Qatar financed the 95% of the Shard tower in London, the highest skyscraper in Europe.

In Cannes, the emir bought an hotel famous for hosting celebrities during the film festival, but it’s also looking to buy a Jewish symbol like the Les Trois Rois hotel in Basel, Switzerland, scene of the iconic portrait of Theodor Herzl.

Qatar has also purchased, for 300 million euros, the building which hosts part of the US Embassy in Paris.

Qatar announced last February, when Nicolas Sarkozy was still the President of France, that it was willing to spend $65 million in the French banlieues, the suburbs home to the vast majority of the six million Muslims in France. Then Qatar doubled the sum to €100 million, which the extreme leftist French newspaper Libération describes as a “Qatari take over of the banlieues.”

Another newspaper, Le Figaro, seeing the handwriting on the wall, published an article recently, titled: “Will France become an Islamic Republique?”

In Switzerland, where Qatar is economically very important, famous firms such as Swatch, Tissot and Victorinox, have removed the cross of the Swiss flag from many advertisements, especially in Arab and Asian countries. In many cases the cross on the red background, a sign of identity of the Swiss cantons, has been replaced by the words “Swiss Made”. The Victorinox, the famous manufacturer of knives, replaced the cross with the letter “V”. The Swatch justified the removal by saying that “Muslim countries are not allowed to show the cross in public.”

Qatar in Spain funnels its donations through the Islamic League for Dialogue and Coexistence , a group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and which controls the Catalan Islamic Cultural Center. Qatar just paid $450,000 to renovate that center based in Barcelona.

In Italy, the Qatari emir is financing the construction of many mega mosques, while in Ireland Qatar recently donated €800,000 to build a mega-mosque in Cork.

Donations helped also to secure Qatar a seat in the Unesco’s World Heritage Committee, used by the Palestinians to advance their Jüdenrein agenda in Judea and Samaria.

Qatar also has an ambitious project to build a mega mosque and Islamic institute in Munich, Germany, which they say would “build a bridge between Islam and Europe”. Munich – where Pope Joseph Ratzinger was archbishop from 1977 to 1981 – is the city in which the Muslim Brotherhood has gained control of most of the mosques and of active Islam in Germany and in Europe.

The European Council for Fatwa and Research is headed by Imam Yusuf al Qaradawi, based in Doha, Qatar.

Qatar’s course of action is very practical: convincing Europe that the real name of Jerusalem is Al Quds, that the Koran replaced the Bible and that the Jewish Temple Mount is just a conspiracy.

With an imperial flux of money and ideology, the former British protectorate of Qatar is discouraging Muslim integration in Europe in order to better dominate it, fomenting anti-Semitism and cultural separation, actively encouraging jihad against the State of Israel.

Some of Qatar’s most significant investments have been in establishing outposts of Western universities and think tanks. Among others, the country has partnered with the Brookings Institution, Georgetown University and the Royal United Services Institute to open programs specializing in science, journalism, education, agriculture and foreign policy.

An important question is: Why are they doing it and what, if anything, does Qatar get out it?