|Optimistic crowds cheer Qatar's then-owner Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani|
as he tours the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, promising
millions in aid [Image Source]
As the ruling regime in Gaza brazenly declares again this morning its determination to keep firing its rockets into anything Israeli and to reject all calls for a truce ["Hamas demands end to siege before truce"] so long as its own demands are not met first, we pause for a moment to reflect on how other people's cash and an appalling indifference to the price their own people pay make the devastation we see happening in Gaza possible - and inevitable.
Hamas, according to "Qatar invests in the West, and funds Hamas" [Ynet, July 30, 2014], has annual operating expenses of some US$1 billion. It's a vast burden, made orders of magnitude more challenging by the jihadists' systemic failure to invest in basic infrastructure, in jobs and in anything resembling economic security for the people under its iron boot. Where does the money come from? The Foundation for Defense of Democracies says Qatar.
Qatar's investment authority may be slowly taking over the world; and the Western world is indirectly funding Hamas because of it. Isolated and almost alone in the Arab world, Hamas has one sponsor left and that is the world's richest country, on paper at least. [Ynet]The Qatar Investment Authority manages Qatar's oil and natural gas "surpluses", according to Wikipedia. Qatar, with a population of less than 2 million [source] is the world's largest liquefied natural gas exporter. Its holdings stand at an astronomical $170 billion, and are growing. That enables a mind-numbing degree of freedom of movement for the family who own it, the Al-Thanis. So too does Qatar's legal structure: power passes from one to another member of the Al-Thanis. Often described as a constitutional monarchy, it is in reality (as Wikipedia notes) an absolute monarchy for all purposes. It might be more accurate to describe it, along with various other hydrocarbon-rich entities in the same neighbourhood, as a very-large-scale family business. In that light, it's less than shocking that money decisions are made by Qatar's national treasury in ways that reflect that the owners' prejudices and preferences.
Where and how Qatar makes its money grow is a concern for people outside the region as well as those of us more immediately affected. As a Ynet article this week showed ["Qatar invests in the West, and funds Hamas"], its footprint is wide:
The public may be surprised to find out just how much it is indirectly funding Hamas. According to Bloomberg, [Qatar is] prepared to increase investments in the UK, after claiming shares of and buying out major companies such as supermarket giant Sainsbury's, the exclusive Harrods department store and leading bank Barclays Plc, among others. Ahmad Al-Sayed, chief executive officer of the Qatari wealth fund, told Bloomberg that the QIA has its eye on Britain as a major investment opportunity, as it has "great systems, great regulations." He also told Bloomberg that since its purchase of Harrods in 2010, the QIA has invested approximately $413 million in the business, gaining major revenue. Additionally, Qatar has shares in a number of oil companies, such as Total SA, as well as Volkswagen, Porsche Automobil Holding SE, and Glencore plc. Meanwhile, the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development is the sponsor of FC Barcelona, and the QIA owns Paris Saint-Germain. Qatar also has a strong history of buying US-made weaponry. Business Insider reported last week that the country has recently bought $11 billion worth of Patriot missile batteries and Apache attack helicopters.Wikipedia says that's far from all:
Qatar Investment Authority... was part of an investment group known as Filmyard Holdings, which purchased Miramax from Disney. In February 2012, it completed the acquisition of Credit Suisse's headquarters in London. QIA holds a 6% stake in Credit Suisse and owns shares in Apeldoorn, the majority owner of Canary Wharf Group. Qatari Diar, a property arm of the fund, along with Canary Wharf, won a £300mn deal to redevelop the Shell Centre in London that houses the Royal Dutch Shell's London headquarters. The French government has offered tax exemptions for Qatari real estate investments in the country... In January 2013, Qatar... said it would invest $5 billion into petrochemical projects in Malaysia in the three to four years. The investment was said to help Malaysia compete with neighbouring Singapore to become the region’s top petrochemical hub. The QIA was planning to invest $200 million in residential property in India through Kotak Realty Fund in late December 2013...And not to forget that the Al Jazeera global television and Internet news empire is "funded" (Wikipedia's word) by "the House of Thani, the ruling family of Qatar". In simple terms, the Qatari family own and control it.
Hamas is a major Qatari beneficiary. Major may be an understatement.
Over at TIME Magazine ["Hamas Still Has Some Friends Left", July 25, 2014] they say that Qatar
hosts Hamas’ political bureau which includes Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal,” says Shashank Joshi, Senior Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. “Qatar has a long history of providing shelter to Islamist groups, amongst them the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban... Hamas used to be strongly allied with both Iran and Syria, with the former giving Hamas an estimated $13-15 million a month as recently as 2011, as well as long-range missiles. Hamas’ political bureau used to be based in the Syrian capital of Damascus before its move to Qatar in 2012.” [TIME]It goes well beyond hospitality, however.
Qatar financially supported Hamas with donations, grants and field projects (not cash, as Hamas wished) to compensate for the cessation of Iranian support, as Hamas leaders Meshaal, Khalil al-Haya and Sami Abu Zuhri had openly declared for the first time that the movement was financially suffering... Qatar also gave Hamas a regional role. Qatar was considered Hamas’s “godmother” in regional and international forums. Then came the visit by Qatar’s emir to Gaza in October 2012 and his call at the recent Arab summit in March 2013 for a mini-summit to discuss reconciling Fatah and Hamas... ["Hamas Ties to Qatar Have Cost", published in on the Al-Monitor site in April 2013]Here in Israel, the current view of Qatar’s role is more straightforward:
Former national security adviser Maj. Gen. (res) Yaakov Amidror told The Times of Israel that the emirate’s funding for the organization’s terror apparatus, including tunnel diggers and rocket launchers, has continued unabated. “Hamas currently has two ‘true friends’ in the world: Qatar and Turkey,” Amidror said. The small Gulf state is currently Hamas’s closest ally in the Arab world... “The one supporting this organization financially, almost alone, is Qatar,” Amidror said. ["Israel singles out Qatar as key Hamas terror sponsor", Times of Israel, July 23, 2014]Reinforcing that view, Israel's outgoing president, Shimon Peres, told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Jerusalem a week ago that Qatar is becoming “the world’s largest funder of terror”, referring to Qatar's financial support for Hamas in Gaza. Following the announced establishment in June 2014 of a Palestinian Arab "unity" government, Qatar tried to finance the salaries of unpaid Hamas civil servants in Gaza. It was blocked by the United States which brought pressure on Arab Bank not to process the funds transfer. The message from Peres to Ban:
Qatar does not have the right to send money for rockets and tunnels which are fired at innocent civilians,” the outgoing statesman told . “Their funding of terror must stop. If they want to build then they should, but they must not be allowed to destroy.” [source]Qatar's neighbours have looked on with rising alarm as Qatar puts its money where its jihadism is. At the BBC, they recently reported ["How the Middle East has gone cool towards Qatar", BBC, March 10, 2014] that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar
after accusing the emirate of meddling in their internal affairs... They had wanted a return to the days when the Arabian Peninsula's most powerful rulers worked together to resolve crises rather than exacerbate them. [BBC]As Qatar's backing of the mayhem-minded kleptocrats of Hamas shows [see "27-Jul-14: Gaza's death toll keeps rising but for Hamas insiders it's all worth it"], exacerbating problems is something that money - huge volumes of it and the wrong hands managing it - can do with frightening efficiency.