PINotes  Global news. Global view.


News & Analysis > All

News & analysis from Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a global perspective

Qatar hubbub raises question of fake opposition to Israel

June 11, 2017

A few days ago, CNN, the Guardian and others reported or re-reported sources' claim that the FBI found Russian hackers did the alleged hacking of Qatar News Agency.(1)

Some Arab countries including Saudi Arabia and Egypt have announced cutting diplomatic relations with Qatar. It appears relations had reached a breaking point. The last straw was words on a screen for which Qatar blamed hackers. Tensions may continue regardless of any investigatory outcome.

Qatar's official news agency had appeared to attribute pro-Iran remarks -- also simultaneously supporting some relations with Israel and defending Hamas and Hezbollah -- to Qatar's head of state. This was after Trump gave speeches in the Middle East last month supporting an alliance against Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran. Trump lumped them with ISIS. Qatar said it was hacked, and now there are headlines about a "fake" Qatari "positive story" about both Iran and Israel. It is plausible Qatar was against Trump's warmongering, though, even if its emir didn't actually suggest another Muslim country caused terrorism. Qatar's critics are right only in that there is a reason why so many were ready to accept the quotes as real at least in relation to certain states or entities.

Qatar has had some trade relations with Israel including an office in Doha closed years ago.(2) It is remarkable Qatar was attacked for allegedly supporting Iran, by people in countries that supposedly haven't recognize Israel at all and yet have talked with Israel in secret. (It is even the case that Egypt recognizes Israel officially.) This brings to mind criticisms of Qatar years ago for not terminating every last bit of relations with Israel in the midst of I$raeli attacks in Palestine, when various Arab countries still had open or secret relations with Israel. More on that later.

Qatar has had better relations with Iran than some other Arab countries have had. It is also true Qatar serves as a hub for negotiations and has been instrumental in the United States' own negotiations with the Taliban, for example. Americans know that because it was reported by mainstream U.S. outlets. For any American to now act like they have nothing to do with the complex diplomacy that goes on in Doha is ridiculous and is just playing dumb in some cases.

Israelis also negotiate through Qatar, with Palestinians and other Arabs. Qatar's "friends with everyone" appearance allows this to be done without anyone losing face. Maybe hosting a huge U.S. presence is unnecessary and too much, but Qatar performs a function much like Switzerland, with more of a Middle East focus. Unfortunately, the dealings of Doha are often regarded as "murky" by racists in a way that the dealings of Bern or Geneva aren't. Even competitive Swiss may not accept there is no need for what Qatar does. Of course, nobody questions what goes on, on United Nations Plaza in New York, because the United States is a large, hegemonic country and brazenly threatens some of the countries that have go to Gomorrah for UN work.

Qatar cannot easily free itself from its legitimate international ties and involvement in regional and global diplomacy. Tensions may continue for other reasons whether anyone authoritatively concludes anything about hacking or terrorism financing allegations, in Qatar's favor or not. Qatar's going to the FBI or John Ashcroft to prove hacking or avoid terrorism funding claims(3) may help raise a question that needs to be dropped, or put pressure on Saudi Arabia to admit it made it mistake. That itself may contribute to tensions. Saudi Arabia has already responded with additional allegations.

And, if it isn't Qatar that funds terrorism, Saudi officials and their American masters will say it's Iran that does the financing, not Saudi Arabia. In the United States, Democrats are saying Trump -- who supposedly never admits to being wrong -- is part of the problem of how to end the dispute, but Democrats themselves have accused Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia of financing terrorism. They are part of the problem. There is a way in which Democrats' and others' blaming 9/11 and ISIS on Saudi Arabia, rather than on the United States (which is an aggressor and colonizer in the Middle East, and unites in certain ways with ISIS against Middle East states), contributed to the allegations against Qatar.

Russian interests

Russia has denied the hacking insinuation, seemingly saying it is being blamed for everything bad that happens under the sun.(4) That's unsurprising for more than one reason. There is a long history of Russian-U.S. cooperation and it is also true many Americans now and during Obama's presidency were warmongering against both Russia and Saudi Arabia, but in general, the idea that White House policy is somehow both pro-Russia and anti-Iran -- as some have suggested it is without much substantive elaboration(5) -- strains credulity. In the context of the supposed conflict between the FBI and the White House now, the suggestion of Russian involvement in the QNA hacking implies that Russia welcomes or is even behind Trump's remarks(6) supporting isolation of Qatar.

Yet, Russia's statements about the crisis have been more consistent than the Americans'. It wasn't Putin seemingly bragging about instigating the crisis. And, the evidence with respect to Iran-Russia relations doesn't seem to be there in the news. Official and semi-official Iranian and Russian media continue to refer to Iran-Russia cooperation in various areas in strong positive terms.(7)

Iran and Qatar also have significant economic ties. At the same time, Iran and Qatar share a huge gasfield so there is a potential for both cooperation and conflict, not just cooperation. Iran and Qatar have good reasons to make special effort to avoid conflict with each other.

As for possible Saudi interest in the gasfield, Saudi Arabia does have its own natural gas industry and financial problems caused by U.S. imperialism. Saudi Arabia regardless faces blackmail and threats to get it to cooperate with the United States against Iran and Iran's partnerships.

Trump claimed he helped bring about the pressure on Qatar. The timeline as discussed in media isn't entirely clear. But, to say the least, it stretches the imagination to think Russia would somehow conspire with the United States to support diplomatic isolation of Qatar over some words defending Russia's partner Iran. That's not to mention Russia's own direct ties with Qatar. Relations may not be perfect, but there are ties.

On the other hand, Russia may have an interest in pressing the issue of Al Udeid Air Base. The air base is the largest Mideast base operated and used mostly by the Americans. Qatar is across the water from Iran, and Al Udeid is a few hundred kilometers or less from some major Iranian cities. Al Udeid would be a base for a U.S. invasion of Iran and has a role in gunboat diplomacy.

It's not in Russia's interests to have thousands of U.S. troops in Qatar indefinitely, but it's not in many different countries' interests either.

Qatar's humiliation

Al Udeid Air Base already embarrasses many Qataris and other Arabs. If nothing else, Americans may remember comedian Conan O'Brien in 2015 ridiculing the alcohol rules for Americans on Al Udeid (a three-drink limit that supposedly makes impaired driving impossible), but in doing so O'Brien admitted Qatar was generous enough to allow so many Americans to drink in a Qatari facility in the first place. The air base is described as Qatar- "owned" though called a "U.S. base" even in mainstream U.S. media. The Americans, who still work and eat under Qatar's own roof, now supremely disrespect their Qatari hosts by accusing them of supporting terrorism. Besides State Department workers, even some Pentagon officials with a brain may be against that -- though it's not beyond the realm of possibility that some NSA/DIA/CIA or Pentagon leader went on the darknet and paid a "Russian" anonymous hacker some bitcoin to fuck things up between Qatar and Saudi Arabia because they thought it would help with opposing Russia and/or Trump. (Some publications read by U.S. military personnel are suggesting the Qatar blockade won't affect Al Udeid operations.(8))

Since "Iranian expansionism" is out of the question according to various Americans who may be against Iranian influence more than they are really against imperialism, maybe Qatar should show its ungrateful and disrespectful guests the door and replace them with the Russians. Trump's Middle East policy could just be so anti-Russian that Europeans can't support it and may tolerate Russian influence in Qatar. No revolutionary should be against kicking out the Americans, no matter what may be necessary to replace them in the tiny host country. Certainly there is an urgent need for anti-American Arab unity, but the continued existence and accommodation of U.S. hegemony is complicating the emergence of a pan-Arab state that is socialist or not neocolonial.

To say that Qatar faces intimidation and a U.S. invasion if it doesn't cooperate against Iran is a little strange in one sense. The United States already has a base and thousands of troops in Qatar. Nevertheless, Qatar obviously and literally faces blackmail for not cooperating with the United States to the extent it wants. Conceivably, Qatar may have pretended to be more pro-Iran than it actually was, but there is a reason Qatar had to go to Ashcroft's law firm. It's not just a question of how much evidence there is for or against certain allegations in any coming legal cases that may be related to anti-Saudi 9/11 lawsuit legislation now being used against Qatar, or ensuring anti-money-laundering and anti-terrorism compliance; the United States has the ability to fabricate almost anything. Qatar needs help with opposing defamation in the media and opposing attacks on diplomacy in general. Hosting a U.S. base apparently isn't enough. Going to someone like a former Bush appointee for help shows that such tangible facts as allowing U.S. war planes to take off from Qatari soil may not matter much in perceptions of Qatar's anti-terrorism efforts or willingness to have relations with Qatar.

After all, Qatar is allowing U.S. and British aircraft to take off from Al Udeid that then help ISIS try to overthrow Syria's only legitimate government. Of course, that is not what the Americans and their slaves are talking about.

U.S. oppression of Palestine

Facilitating the blackmail against Qatar are reactionaries on "the left" in the United Snakes, and fools in certain Muslim-majority countries, who constantly have harsh words for "Zionism" or say Israel controls the United States, but collaborate with or tolerate U.S. invasions and occupations and seem to accept "Greater Israel" as inevitable. Such behavior should be unacceptable even in most Arab contexts.

Qatar doesn't recognize Israel. Saudi Arabia doesn't recognize Israel officially, but it obviously and openly has full relations with countries that have full relations with Israel. Egypt, one of the countries that cut ties with Qatar, itself recognizes Israel (related to a peace agreement). There is an Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv, and Israel has an embassy in Cairo. It's hard to see how a few Palestinians, and Egyptians and other Arabs, supporting Egypt's action and criticizing Qatar as pro-Israel could really be so ignorant as to seemingly not know about Israel's status with Egypt. Many people in Egypt are against the giant U.S. base in Palestine called "Israel" -- rightfully so -- but the fact that both Saudi Arabia and Egypt cut relations with Qatar shows that the anti-Qatar action isn't about Qatar's alleged words supporting dialogue or improved relations with Israel. The time for Egyptians out of power to criticize Qatar for supporting some relations with Israel is not when the U.S. president has just given speeches in the Middle East stirring up war against Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran, when the allegations against Qatar involve defending those three. There must be clarity about the counterrevolutionary nature of the American-Egyptian-Saudi collaboration, which has nothing to do with opposing Israel.

Whether Qatar's emir said those words about Israel or not, Qatar would have been right to suggest there is no point in opposing formal, open relations with Israel if people are going to kiss AmeriKKKan ass, kiss I$raeli ass covertly and strategically, support warmongering against Iran, and oppose Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. A war against Iran is a hundred times more likely than Palestinian nationalists' coming to power in Tel Aviv within the next few years, and that doesn't mean anti-Iran warmongering should not be opposed.

There could be a question of Western pressure, but Hamas recently ended up giving qualified official support to the two-state solution despite all the talk about the death of the two-state solution. Iran, which still has relations with Fatah, continues to refer to Hamas positively in its media(9) though there have been some reports of disagreements related to the Syria war. No doubt the Americans, some right-wing Israelis and liberal Greater Israel supporters tried to assassinate the two-state solution, but it should not be buried when there were so many Americans and I$raelis who weren't serious about the two-state solution in the first place. This writer doesn't purport to lead Palestinians, but anyone who is interested in the justifications for what Hamas did from a Marxist point of view can read numerous PINotes articles. Now, it seems the JASTA 9/11 lawsuit law(10) may be used against Muslim countries other than Saudi Arabia though JASTA's supporters may have thought they were just threatening Saudi Arabia. As was predicted on PINotes. Qatar is an Arab country that is one of Iran's most important partners. In addition, Qatar is being attacked for supporting the two-state solution with less phony rhetoric against Israel relations and less opposition to Iran.

Obviously the proletariat isn't winning in its struggle to free Israel and Saudi Arabia from U.S. influence, but we are turning out to be right about several different things. The reason has to do with a scientific method. Because of the kinds of things that are said here about Iran, the Israeli entity, the Palestinian nation, Saudi Arabia, Jews, and Muslims, perhaps some readers imagine this writer to be some kind of operative drinking or serving coffee in some office in Doha. The fact is there are millions of people in the world who wish to be friends with all of these people. The underlying basis has to do with what Mao Zedong was saying about Third World countries and other non-hegemonic countries in an era of hegemony that was beginning to emerge. It was revealed to be an era of U.S. hegemony, which still exists today and must be opposed. ◊

• “Hamas chief Haniyeh to visit Iran,” 2017 June 10.
• “Hamas delegation to visit Tehran soon,” 2017 June 10.
• “Iran’s oil exports to Europe hit record high in May: report,” 2017 June 10.
• “Terrorists’ acts have nothing to do with religions: Austrian minister of finance,” 2017 June 11.
• “Soviet honeypot, double agent Jared Kushner facilitated American-Arab alliance that Russia opposes,” 2017 June.
• “Trump tries to bribe Americans with “jobs” to support war on Iran,” 2017 May.
• “Reality Winner: Russia leaks raise issue of Pentagon-related corruption,” 2017 June.

1. “CNN Exclusive: US suspects Russian hackers planted fake news behind Qatar crisis,” 2017 June 7.
“Russian hackers to blame for sparking Qatar crisis, FBI inquiry finds,” 2017 June 7.
“Hacking, bots and information wars in the Qatar spat,” 2017 June 7.
2. “Qatar: Israel trade office closed,” 2000 November 11.
“Qatar rules out closing Israeli trade office over Gaza,” 2009 January 11.
3.“FBI helping Qatar in ‘hacking’ probe: source,” 2017 June 2.
“Qatar hires ex-US attorney general John Ashcroft to fight terrorist financing claims,” 2017 June 10.
“Qatar hires George W. Bush attorney general to audit anti-terrorism efforts,” 2017 June 11.
4. “Moscow says CNN report of hacking Qatar’s QNA has no proof,” 2017 June 7.
5. “Germany bemused by Donald Trump’s repeated criticism while he stays silent on Russia and Saudi Arabia,” 2017 May 31.
“Trump’s pro-Saudi, pro-Russia, anti-Europe foreign policy,” 2017 May 31.
6. “Trump and Tillerson take different approach on Qatar crisis,” 2017 June 10.
“UAE blacklist may squeeze liquidity of Qatari banks,” 2017 June 10. ““So we had a decision to make, do we take the easy road or do we finally take a hard but necessary action. We have to stop the funding of terrorism. I decided… the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding,” Trump said, adding that he helped plan the Qatar action with Arab leaders after a recent summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.”
7. “Iran, Russia boosting strategic military cooperation in Syria: Shamkhani,” 2017 June 6.
“Iran sees Russia as priority partner for cooperation on new technologies,” 2017 June 4.
“Iran says Russia priority technology partner,” 2017 June 4.
“Iran, Russia should have close media cooperation: IRNA chief,” 2017 June 3.
“Iran resolved to boost regional cooperation with Russia: Rouhani,” 2017 May 27.
8. “Qatar blockade unlikely to affect US troops at al-Udeid base, officials say,” 2017 June 6.
“Air Force secretary: Arab rift with Qatar won’t hurt US operations,” 2017 June 5.
9. “Qatar right about Hamas being legitimate resistance group: Commentator,” 2017 June 11.
10. “Changes make JASTA a tool the U.S. State Department can use against Arab, Muslim and oil-exporting countries,” 2016 May.
“Americans continue to undermine peace as 9/11 anniversary approaches,” 2016 September.
“Dakota Access Pipeline and anti-Saudi 9/11 lawsuit bill both reveal limitations of class struggle in the United Snakes,” 2016 October.

home | latest | campaigns | movie reviews | newsletter

Proletarian Internationalist Notes