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Russia And Qatar: Back Channel Diplomacy Over Syria


Two of the world’s seemingly most unlikely partners, Russia and Qatar, have been moving closer to one another over the past year in spite of their polar opposite views towards the War on Syria. It’s well known among the global public how Moscow supports the democratically elected and legitimate leadership of President Assad, while Doha has been behind Al Nusra and countless other “moderate rebel opposition” (terrorist) groups since day one, though the time appears to be coming where both state sponsors are making inroads towards reaching a fabled so-called “political solution”. 

Russia has made it abundantly clear on many occasions that the War on Syria can only be wrapped up with a political, not military, solution, which therefore infers some sort of vague power-sharing agreement between President Assad and the “opposition”. The Astana format brokered between itself, Iran, and Turkey is a step in that direction, and Moscow’s peace-making efforts have won the acceptance of Damascus, although the lengthy process has only just begun and many important issues still remain unaddressed at this moment.

In principle, accepting that Russia has officially eschewed a military solution and is totally dedicated towards achieving a political one for whatever its self-interested purposes may be (e.g. avoiding mission creep, lack of political will to militarily “go all out”, etc.), the only way that it can reach this ambitious goal and make it sustainable is to enter into a complex series of deal-making with the most prominent patrons of the “moderate opposition rebels”, ergo the importance of Qatar in this framework.

Image result for rosneft

As a prelude to pragmatically bringing Qatar into the fold, Russia sold nearly 20% of oil giant Rosneft to the Kingdom and a Swiss firm in a joint deal announced at the end of last year, a power move which instantly brought the two competing powers together on a separate apolitical plane guided by common economic self-interests. This major move completely changed the calculations which had hitherto gone into analyzing the nature of Russian-Qatari relations, and it’s thus no surprise that Russia shortly thereafter began talking about including its new Mideast partner into the Astana format.

Iran, however, has been reluctant to see either energy rival Qatar or sectarian foe Saudi Arabia added to Astana, and it’s due to Tehran’s objections that neither “rebel” sponsor is officially a part of those negotiations, though that doesn’t mean that Russia hasn’t nevertheless engaged them outside this context. In fact, largely unbeknownst to many casual observers, Russia and Saudi Arabia are in the midst of a slow-moving rapprochement with one another which has been facilitated by Moscow’s newfound partners in Ankara and Islamabad (the so-called “Keys to the Kingdom”, as they’re seen in Russia), though the specific details of this intriguing development lay outside the focus of the present article.

Whether it’s Saudi Arabia or Qatar, however, both Gulf Kingdoms have global energy interests and play a leading role in the War on Syria, just as Russia does, and this resultantly provides two separate platforms for Moscow to interface with them in seeking to surmount their previously intractable divergences so as to reach a series of compromises which ultimately advance their respective interests.

Russia’s Rosneft deal with Qatar sought to minimize the strategic market rivalry between Moscow and Doha much as the OPEC deal aimed to do the same between Russia and the Saudis, with the final outcome evidently being that both energy-related arrangements succeeded in cultivating enough goodwill between all sides that their sensitive (and somewhat secret) dual-track Syrian diplomacy was able to progress.

This is seen most evidently by the two top-level events which took place on the weekend of 15-16 April, when the Qatari Foreign Minister visited Moscow and the speaker of the upper house of Russia’s parliament (and legally the third most powerful person in the country) Valentina Matvienko traveled to Saudi Arabia. Both interconnected summits dealt with Syria and visibly proved that Russia is indeed engaged in active diplomacy with these two “rebel” sponsors despite their omission from the Astana framework.

Moreover, Russia’s shrewd politicking with Qatar and Saudi Arabia over Syria also confirms that Moscow is behaving according to the precepts of what the author has previously termed the “19th-Century Great Power Chessboard”, the consummate Neo-Realist paradigm whereby Russia prioritizes its engagement with similarly sized Great Powers at the perceived (key word) expense of its smaller- and medium-sized partners such as Syria in order to promote what it believes to be the “greater good”.

To explain, Syrian officials might understandably feel uncomfortable negotiating with known terrorist groups such as Jaysh al-Islam, though this must occur in one form or another (such as the indirect template spearheaded by Astana) if the desired “political solution” is to be reached, which in and of itself isn’t possible in the first place without the group’s foreign sponsors agreeing to such a development. Had it not been for Russia’s pragmatic diplomacy with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Jaysh al-Islam would never have been “allowed” by its backers to attend Astana, and the entire Tripartite arrangement would have been for naught.

There are definitely serious image issues involved with Russia rubbing shoulders with what had up until this moment been its chief geopolitical rivals in the region, though to refer back to the “greater good” that it’s trying to obtain, there is little else that Moscow can do if it sincerely wants to advance a political solution to the War on Syria. However awkward it may appear, such a move is ultimately necessary so long as Russia refuses to commit to a military solution, thereby making these diplomatic advances more pragmatic than paradoxical in hindsight.

The Astana arrangement between Russia, Iran, and Turkey has yielded moderate and realistic successes so far given its obvious constraints, though it’s because of its limitations and Tehran’s outright rejection of Riyadh and Doha’s participation in this format that a separate Tripartite needs to emerge in parallel between Russia, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. There is no other way for a lasting and sustainable political solution to be reached unless Damascus’ chief ally diplomatically intercedes on its behalf in reaching Great Power deals with these two troublesome Gulf Kingdoms.

Image result for OPEC moscow saudiAs can probably be rightly inferred, the previous clinching of energy partnerships such as the Rosneft sale to Qatar and OPEC agreement with Saudi Arabia made each of Russia’s counterparts more amenable to speaking with it, therefore setting up the present diplomatic situation leading up to the unannounced Parallel Tripartite between Russia, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia over Syria. This in turn advances Russia’s vision of playing the role of Eurasia’s chief geopolitical balancer and therefore strengthens its grand strategic plans in the New Cold War.

Having said that, however, there still remains a lot that can go wrong, and there aren’t any solid precedents to go by in forecasting whether each side can truly trust the other. Rather, what’s presently unfolding is an exercise of mutual goodwill guided by pragmatic self-interests over Syria and the broader dynamics of the global energy market, the latter of which has made it considerably easier to reach a compromise understanding over the former.

Russia will therefore have to tread very carefully as it seeks to cut political-energy deals with its wary partners/rivals in the Parallel Tripartite, but if Moscow is ultimately successful, than the outcome would inevitably be a game-changing re-division of the Mideast’s balance of power which sees Russia emerge as the region’s chief kingmaker to the US’ comparative expense.

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Qatar calls into question its sincerity in pushing World Cup-driven reform

Foreign workers in Qatar

By James M. Dorsey

For much of the last six years since winning the hosting rights of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar appeared to be taking a slow and torturous path towards some degree of reform. Yet, in an increasingly conservative world in which human rights are put on the back burner, fears among rights and trade union activists that lofty Qatari promises of labour reform and some degree of greater liberalism may not be much more than just lofty undertakings appear to be gaining steam.

To be sure, the controversial awarding of the hosting rights has contributed to more open discussion in Qatar of hitherto taboo subjects, including the rights of workers who constitute the vast majority of the population of the tiny, energy-rich Gulf state; the definition of Qatari identity; what rights, if any, non-Qataris should have in obtaining Qatari citizenship; and the rights and social position of women and gays.

“Playing with people’s lives”

A 28-year old Qatari, in the latest pushing of the envelope that brings into the open issues that in the past were kept private because of Qataris’ sense of privacy and family honour, earlier this month decried in an article in Doha News that government policy denies young men and women the right to marry the person of their choice.

It hurt to see my country talking about human rights on the global stage, but then denying citizens the right to marry whoever they choose. (“Yousef”)

Writing under the pseudonym Yousef, the young Qatari described how he was forced to divorce his wife of East European origin after the government refused to sanction the marriage and give his spouse a residence permit because she was not a Muslim even though she had converted.

Yousef wrote:

Our marriage changed me. It took me outside my bubble, and made me question our culture’s values. I didn’t understand why, for example, we Qatari men are allowed to go to clubs where alcohol is served, but at the same time the committee was telling me that my wife’s culture and traditions did not fit ours. This was not making any sense to me.

He added:

I feel that the Qatari government is playing with people’s lives. It hurt to see my country talking about human rights on the global stage, but then denying citizens the right to marry whoever they choose. I want to know why my request was refused. Was it because my family isn’t important enough? Do we not know the right people? I know plenty of Qatari men married to foreign women who got their approval in less than a month, just because they know someone in the government. And why is it OK to marry a second wife or a third wife, but refuse a man permission to marry just one?

Demographic anxiety

Yousef ultimately came to the conclusion that “I will have to leave Qatar and live abroad if I want to get married to a foreigner. I hate that it has to be like that. I love my country. I don’t want to leave Qatar or leave my family, but what options do I have?”

As with the rights of migrant workers caught in a sponsorship system that puts them at the mercy of their employers, Yousef’s plight goes to the heart of Qatar’s most existential problem: the viability of a demography in which the citizenry accounts for a mere 12 per cent of the population and fears that any change will endanger their grip on their society, culture and state.

Wafer-thin rights

Six years into the preparations for the 2022 World Cup, the belief among many activists as well as officials of the world’s football body FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) that Qatar’s stark demographic reality was forcing it to move slowly on reforming, if not abolishing the sponsorship or kafala system, is wearing thin.

To be sure, Qatar in the wake of the awarding of the World Cup and in contrast to other Gulf states initially cooperated with it critics who took it to task for the labour and living conditions of workers constructing World Cup-related infrastructure. The Qatari 2022 committee as well as a few other major Qatari organisations adopted standards and model contracts in cooperation with the likes of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

New measures designed to streamline and curtail abuse of the sponsorship or kafala system are scheduled to come into law before the end of the year. The measures fall short, however, of granting workers’ basic rights.

Against the backdrop of a recent Amnesty report that counters assertions of the Qatari committee that it is applying the standards but cannot enforce them on non-World Cup contractors, FIFA is likely to take on more direct responsibility for the issue and come under greater pressure regarding the labour issue.

With a Dutch trade union taking FIFA to court in Switzerland on the issue of labour rights in the Gulf state, the football body has announced that starting with the Qatar World Cup it would scrap local organising committees for its flagship event.

The 52-page Amnesty report listed eight ways in which World Cup workers employed for the showcase Khalifa International Stadium were still being abused and exploited. It charged that despite efforts to the contrary, workers still pay exorbitant recruitment fees, live in appalling conditions, are lured to Qatar with false salary and job promises, do not get paid on time, cannot freely leave Qatar or change jobs, and are threatened by employers when they dare complain.

The Qatari 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy asserted in a statement that “challenges in worker conditions existing during early 2015” that had been identified by Amnesty had largely been addressed by June of this year. It said the problems involved four of some 40 companies involved in work on the Khalifa stadium and that three of those firms had been banned.

The statement added:

The tone of Amnesty International’s latest assertions paint a misleading picture and do nothing to contribute to our efforts. We have always maintained this World Cup will act as a catalyst for change – it will not be built on the back of exploited workers. We wholly reject any notion that Qatar is unfit to host the World Cup.

Questionable sincerity

The Qatari committee, in a further indication that Qatar may be backtracking on promises, said that current restrictions on alcohol consumption would be upheld during the World Cup. Qatar had earlier said that venues for alcohol consumption would be expanded from hotel bars to specific locations around the country during the tournament.

Not that alcohol is the litmus test of a successful Qatari World. The tournament, moreover, may attract a different demography with far more fans from the Middle East, North Africa and the Muslim world who care less about alcohol than their Western counterparts.

Nonetheless, the backtracking on alcohol, coupled with increasingly strained Qatari relations with human rights groups and trade unions, and the snail pace of labour reform casts a shadow on Qatari sincerity.

Qatar may well feel that the rise of populist leaders across the globe could reduce pressure on it to embark on real reform. That could be true. Yet, by the same token, populist leaders who ride a wave of nationalism may also have to also be seen to be standing up for the rights of their nationals working in foreign lands.

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Suspected Bribe by Saudi Arabia and Qatar Paid to Bill Clinton While Hillary Was Secretary of State

hillary bill clinton


A Reuters report, November 4th, contains the available information regarding the million-dollar payment, which was made in 2011, when the active effort began to overthrow Bashar al-Assad in Syria. This previously unreported payment, which was intended to go through the Clinton Foundation, was made by Qatar, which, along with Saudi Arabia, are the main sources of funding to the jihadists who are trying to overthrow and replace Assad, the man who is blocking those two countries from building oil and gas pipelines through Syria into Europe. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia are owned by their country’s royal family, who also own the world’s largest oil and gas reserves, and those royals want to pipeline their oil and gas into Europe and displace the other oil-and-gas giant, Russia, in the world’s largest energy-market: the EU.

This previously unreported payment was made to him and his wife Hillary’s, and his daughter Chelsea’s, Clinton Foundation, but neither Qatar nor any of the Clintons, nor the Obama Administration, is answering any questions about it, as a consequence of which a reasonable assumption is that it was an outright bribe — especially because in the Haiti hurricane matter and many others, moneys that were paid into the Clinton Foundation did not, in fact, go to benefit the alleged charitable beneficiaries, in that case Haitians. (Haitians therefore especially detest the Clintons.) In all of the Clinton Foundation’s operations, the firms that are controlled by the world’s top aristocrats — not only in Saudi Arabia and Qatar but elsewhere, receive the funding. Whether those recipients actually spend the money as advertised is generally not tracked.

The stated purpose of this particular million-dollar payment was to achieve a private meeting with Bill Clinton. The stated reason for the payment was to honor him on his 65th birthday. Bill Clinton is the person whom international aristocrats most seek to have private meetings with in order to discuss U.S. foreign policies, because there is no record kept of what is being said at those confidential meetings, and because his representations of Hillary Clinton are known to be the most trustworthy, the most “bankable” — it’s considered to be as good as if they were meeting with her in private.

Neither the Clintons nor Qatar are answering questions about this matter, not even whether the requested private meeting with the Secretary of State’s husband ever, in fact, occurred.


Here are highlights from the original Reuters report on this matter:

On Friday, November 4th, Reuters headlined “Clinton’s charity confirms Qatar’s $1 million gift while she was at State Dept”and reported:

Clinton Foundation officials last month declined to confirm the Qatar donation. In response to additional questions, a foundation spokesman, Brian Cookstra, this week said that it accepted the $1 million gift from Qatar, but this did not amount to a “material increase” in the Gulf country’s support for the charity [that’s the phrase in the law that requires it to be made public]. Cookstra declined to say whether Qatari officials received their requested meeting with Bill Clinton.

Officials at Qatar’s embassy in Washington and in its Council of Ministers in the capital, Doha, declined to discuss the donation.

The State Department has said it has no record of the foundation submitting the Qatar gift for review, and that it was incumbent on the foundation to notify the department about donations that needed attention. A department spokeswoman did not respond to additional questions about the donation.

According to the foundation’s website, which lists donors in broad categories by cumulative amounts donated, Qatar’s government has directly given a total of between $1 million and $5 million over the years. …

Foundation officials told Reuters last year that they did not always comply with central provisions of the agreement with President Barack Obama’s administration. …

The foundation has declined to describe what sort of increase in funding by a foreign government would have triggered notification of the State Department for review. ,,,

The State Department said it has no record of being asked by the foundation to review any increases in support by a foreign government.

Spokesmen for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and Bill Clinton did not respond to emailed questions about the donation.

Here is the passage from the wikileaked email, dated in 2012, in which Amitabh Desai, the Clinton Foundation’s director of foreign policy, writes to other senior Clinton Foundation officials, requesting a private meeting of Qatar’s U.S. Ambassador with “wjc” William Jefferson Clinton:

– Would like to see WJC “for five minutes” in NYC, to present $1 million check that Qatar promised for WJC’s birthday in 2011.

– Qatar would welcome our suggestions for investments in Haiti – particularly on education and health. They have allocated most of their $20 million but are happy to consider projects we suggest. I’m collecting input from CF Haiti team.

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Murder in the name of Allah, funded by Zio-Wahhabi’s Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait

Murder in the name of Allah, funded by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait

Thugs of jabot al-Nusra/Jabhat Fatah al-sham

Nureddin Sabir, Editor, Redress Information & Analysis, writes:

Syria has been destroyed and its people dispossessed by the Muslim Brotherhood and its malignant prodigies, courtesy of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Turkey.

One of these murderous prodigies is Al-Nusra Front (Partisans Front), which has long been affiliated to Al-Qaeda. Recently, with the blessing of Al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman Zawahiri, it supposedly “ended” its ties to Al-Qaeda and changed its name to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (Front for the Conquest of Syria). This is a ploy intended to increase its appeal within Syria and the West, and facilitate its formal inclusion in what Western government deceptively call “Syria’s moderate opposition”.

The true reality of Al-Nusra Front/Jabhat Fatah al-Sham can be seen in the video below, where a group of its thugs are ritually murdering an elderly woman whom they accuse of prostitution. Those who understand Arabic will note that the thug committing the murder is describing his deed as an act of mercy, intended to redeem the woman in the eyes of God.

Jabhat al-Nusra/Jabhat Fatah al-Sham is led by one Abu Muhammad al-Julani, a darling of Qatari-owned Aljazeera Media Network, which acts as his public relations agent, trying to soften his image and make him appear as a normal human being.

Abu Muhammad al-Julani

Abu Muhammad al-Julani

According to a Stanford University study, Jabhat al-Nusra/Jabhat Fatah al-Sham

… receives funding from a variety of sources. A large portion of its resources and funding initially came from foreign donors, such as Kuwaiti national Hamid Hamad Hamid al-Ali, also known as Hamid bin Hamad al-Ali… Over time, the group began to finance its arms and attacks by gaining control of oil fields that generated income… To supplement its income, the group also secures funding through ransoms for kidnappings, and usually receives between USD 4 million and USD 25 million for hostage releases. These releases are usually mediated by Qatar, who was accused of facilitating Al-Nusra’s rise to prominence after it paid the group USD 150 million for the release of nine Shi’i Iranian pilgrims in 2013.

It is also supported by Israel, and therefore one can safely assume also by the United States.

Jabhat al-Nusra/Jabhat Fatah al-Sham is not the only tumour produced by the Muslim Brotherhood. Other groups identical to it include Ahrar al-Sham (Freemen of Syria) and Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam), both of which are funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar and regarded by the United States, Britain, France, Germany and their satellite states as “moderate Syrian opposition”. And then there is the Islamic State group, which differs from these groups only in the minutest of detail.

Posted in Middle East, Qatar, Saudi ArabiaComments Off on Murder in the name of Allah, funded by Zio-Wahhabi’s Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait

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