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Emet m'Tsiyon

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Paradoxes of Qatar: Pro-American & Anti-American at the Same Time

Qatar hosts the headquarters of the American Central Command, which actually guided the US war on  Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 2003. The same Qatar owns and operates from Qatar the Al-Jazeera TV network which broadcasts and incites in both English and Arabic, particularly  through the voice of one Sheikh Qaradawi, who preaches hatred of America. The two facilities, the CENTCOM HQ and the premises of al-Jazeera can be seen with the naked eye one from the other.

Hussein Ibish, a spokesman to the American public of Arab views --therefore he writes with relative restrain and moderation-- describes the Qatari paradox: anti-American & pro-American at the same time. He writes on the occasion of the closing down of al-Jazeera America, which never succeeded in gaining enough audience share to make the project worthwhile for Qatar:

Al Jazeera America was the latest, and perhaps most ambitious, branch of a media empire that the tiny but wealthy Gulf emirate of Qatar has used to project its influence, first regionally and then globally. The American-specific incarnation, begun in 2013, was partly an effort to rebrand for the United States the earlier iterations of the franchise, Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera English. But the American network was hobbled from the start by this very legacy.

Because Al Jazeera Arabic overtly promoted Doha’s foreign policy objectives, the network was controversial and disliked by virtually every other government in the region. The Arabic station introduced a freewheeling reporting style — except for avoiding any criticism of Qatar — that transfixed Arab audiences with previously unheard-of debates.
Impartial it was not: A hefty dose of old-fashioned Arab nationalism and a strong bias for the Muslim Brotherhood, which was supported by the Qatari government, were unmistakable. This ideological orientation led to exaggerated accusations in the United States, especially in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, that Al Jazeera served as a media affiliate of Al Qaeda.
Hyperbolic as such claims were, there was a distinctly anti-American bent to its reportage. The Iraq war, in particular, was portrayed virtually as a campaign of mass murder.
The real problem here was the Janus-faced nature of Qatari foreign policy, contradictory and ultimately unsustainable.
On one hand, the huge American military presence in Qatar is a key element of Qatari security strategy. Centcom largely ran the Iraq war out of its forward headquarters at the Udeid Air Base, which Qatar built to encourage a United States establishment there. On the other hand, Qatar gave a hugely influential platform on Al Jazeera to the Muslim Brotherhood cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who elsewhere preached that “Americans in Iraq are all fighters and invaders” whether they were military or civilian, and that it was “a duty for all Muslims” to kill them. Thus Qatar was indispensable to the American war effort in Iraq and at the same time gave credence to one of the most influential Islamic propagandists against it.
Al Jazeera English, the network’s global English-language incarnation, was much more subtle than its Arabic-language counterpart. But it, too, has played a distinct role in Qatar’s ambitious outreach.
The English channel reached its peak of influence through its unrivaled coverage of the Egyptian uprising in January 2011. Despite a pro-Brotherhood bias, its reporting of the insurrection was also extraordinarily detailed, comprehensive and informative. Even the White House was said to be relying on Al Jazeera English for information during the uprising.
Since then, though, Al Jazeera’s credibility has suffered, particularly in the Arab world. After the 2013 ouster of the Brotherhood government of President Mohamed Morsi, the English network’s Egyptian bureau fell apart when its staff members were arrested and charged with disseminating “false news.” Qatar was eventually forced to close its pro-Brotherhood Arabic service to repair relations with Egypt.
That is the baggage that Al Jazeera America inherited on its debut. . . . . 
[New York Times, 17 February 2016; emph. added[full article here]

As far as it goes the article is interesting and informative. And, I believe, factual. However, it is curious that Ibish somehow forgets to mention another paradox: the USA, the world's great friend of liberty and enemy of Communist tyranny, tolerates the slavery the prevails in Qatar in the form of the indentured servitude of tens of thousands or more of foreign workers brought in to do the  hard and work in the  sheikdom. It is Nepalis and others, horribly treated, who build the stadiums for the 2022 world soccer championship or FIFA Mondiale. Many of them have died. But the USA does not seem to care. Neither does the so-called "Global Left" such as it is, seem to care about slavery in Qatar. Nor does the anti-Israel BDS movement seem to care. 

In the summer of 2014 when Israel was fighting against thousands of rockets shot at Israeli towns and cities by Hamas, the USA in the person of John Kerry wanted Israel to accept mediation between itself and Hamas on the part of both Turkey and Qatar, both of them Muslim states hostile to Israel. Just by the way, perhaps the US State Department thought that the fact that Qatar was financing Hamas, itself a jihadi organization, was inconsequential. Israel thought otherwise and preferred Egyptian mediation. Maybe this is explained by the fact that the US press, the contemptuously called MSM, hardly reports on the  ugly social conditions prevailing in Arab states. At least not in Qatar.
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Hamas, the "Left" & Qatar [here]
Marxist-Leninst enjoys favor of rich Arab amir [here]

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