Tag Archives: Qatar

Saudi FM: Qatar Must Send Troops to Syria or Face Regime Change

According to the country’s foreign minister, Saudi Arabia is pushing its former ally Qatar to send its military into Syria or face dire consequences. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir issued the threat in response to U.S. government efforts to create an “Islamic coalition” of troops from neighboring countries that will act as a permanent military “stabilizing force” as a precondition to the U.S. removing its own forces from Syria’s occupied Northeast.

Jubeir stated on Wednesday that, were Qatar to decline to be part of the new coalition, the U.S. would cancel American protection of the country, which is home to the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East. Qatar, he said, must “send its military forces (to Syria), before the US president cancels US protection of Qatar, which consists of the presence of a US military base on its territory.”

Jubeir stated that the U.S. withdrawal of protection and military aid would lead the Qatari government “to fall there in less than a week,” insinuating that the country’s failure to send its military to Syria at the behest of the U.S. and Saudis in Syria could result in regime change.

According to a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency:

Based on the US President Donald Trump statement, during a joint press conference held with his visiting French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir announced that Qatar should pay the voucher of the price of US military forces’ presence in Syria, and to send its military forces there, before the US President lifts American protection of the State of Qatar, embodied in the presence of US military base, on its soils.

The Foreign Minister reasserted US President utterance that if the US is to withdraw its protection, represented in the military base located in Qatar, then that regime will fall, within less than a week.

It is unclear if the U.S. government supports the Saudi’s push for Qatari involvement and if they would shut down their military base in Qatar were the country not to send troops to Syria. Qatar is eager to preserve ties with the U.S. and has been reportedly pushing the U.S. to expand its base in the country by renovating its naval ports as well as pushing the Pentagon to make the base permanent.

Whether Qatar will send troops to Syria at behest of the Saudis is anyone’s guess. Indeed, the country was once a major player in the Syrian conflict and some have argued that it was Syria’s rejection of a Qatari gas pipeline in favor of an Iranian gas pipeline that helped to initiate the conflict. Qatar also covertly funded several rebel groups active in Syria, including terrorist groups, that have been fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The reported ultimatum is the just the latest example of deteriorating relations between Qatar and their former ally Saudi Arabia. The diplomatic row began in June of last year, when the Saudis, along with the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Yemen, cut ties with the country after claiming that it supports terrorism. Trump followed suit, calling Qatar a “high-level sponsor of terrorism,” and later took credit for the crisis. However, the issue was not Qatar’s support for terrorism as much as Qatar’s consideration of working with Iran to develop massive natural gas reserves that both countries share.

Ultimately, Qatar failed to acquiesce to past Saudi demands and ultimatums, an embarrassing failure for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman who was largely behind the dramatic falling out.

Given that the past threats leveled at Qatar by the Saudi and its allies failed to change their foreign policy, it seems unlikely that it will now bow to Saudi pressure. If Qatar does choose to join the Saudis in occupying northeastern Syria, it would likely be due to the country’s past of fomenting the conflict in Syria and its funding of rebel groups active in the conflict, rather than concern over Saudi-backed regime change.

News agency reports they have obtained ‘Spy Cables’

Al Jazeera, a news broadcasting agency owned by the government of Qatar, has reported they have obtained hundreds of confidential and hidden documents, which the agency are calling the “Spy Cables.”

The report from Al Jazeera announcing the cables says the documents offer “an unprecedented insight into operational dealings of the shadowy and highly politicised realm of global espionage.” Al Jazeera also says they will release the documents over the next couple of days alongside the newspaper the Guardian.

The leaked documents, according to the Business Insider, come from many government agencies around the world, including Russia’s FSB, South Africa’s SSA, Britain’s MI6, and others. Documents from any American intelligence agencies though seem to be absent from the Spy Cables.

Even though documents from American intelligence agencies are not included, some of the documents point to the CIA working in correspondence with South Africa’s SSA agency. The documents also allegedly say the CIA had attempted to contact the group HAMAS, even though the U.S. government has labeled the group a terrorist organization.

Other documents say MI6 had attempted to recruit a spy in North Korea with the help of the South African government. MI6 reportedly met with a North Korean man and offered him an “undisclosed amount of money” for the man’s cooperation in a “long term clandestine operation.”

Another document claims Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu had exaggerated Iran’s nuclear production levels in a 2012 declaration made in front of the UN. A secret Mossad document released in the leak, however, says Iran was not at the time “performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.”

Al Jazeera writes they will only publish documents which they believe serve the public interest. They also write, “We believe it is important to achieve greater transparency in the field of intelligence…. Publishing these documents, including operational and tradecraft details, is a necessary contribution to a greater public scrutiny of their activities.”

More leaked documents will be released in the next few days on Al Jazeera and the Guardian.

One prisoner exchanged for Sgt. Bergdahl has made suspicious communications

One of the five prisoners exchanged for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in May 2014, is reportedly being investigated for making suspicious phone calls to Afghanistan over the past few months.

According to CNN, this is the first known time one of the five detainees who were released has been suspected of attempted to make contact with any militant groups in the Middle East, but this one instance has raised the question of whether the other four will follow suit.

All five former detainees are said to be in Qatar, where their communications have been monitored by a U.S. intelligence program for months. The program in question is saying they have evidence showing the former detainee in question had “reached out” to militant groups and encouraged further militant activity.

However, one official told NBC News the former detainee had called family members in Afghanistan and there is no evidence showing the phone calls were to members of any militant group in the area. This official also added the content of the phone calls contained no “threatening activity or planning.”

No matter what the content of the suspected phone calls, the governments of Qatar and the U.S. are working together on this new issue.

Rear Admiral John Kirby had an interview on the show ‘Erin Burnett Out Front,’ where he said, “We have a strong security partnership with Qatar, and are in constant dialogue with Qatari government officials about these five detainees and we are confident that we would be able to mitigate any threat of re-engagement by any of these members.”

The Pentagon released a statement saying they would not comment on cases involving the detainees. The statement also said, according to the Daily Mail, “we take any incidence of re-engagement very seriously, and we work in close coordination through military, intelligence, law enforcement and diplomatic channels to mitigate re-engagement and to take follow-on action when necessary.”

President Obama says fight with IS not ‘America’s fight alone’

One day after the US began carrying out airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria, President Obama made a speech hailing the efforts of an international coalition to help stop the growing terrorist threat in the Middle East.

The US airstrikes in Syrian territory were in unison with five other Middle Eastern allies against the terrorist group, and marks a substantial growth in the efforts to stop the Islamic State.  Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are five substantial forces carrying out airstrikes and fighting alongside the US.

Each of these nations, according to the Guardian, provided their own level of support with various forms of air power, including deploying fighter jets, bombers, and Tomahawk missiles to target and weaken 22 ISIS targets in Syria.

“The strength of this coalition makes it clear to the world that this is not America’s fight alone… we are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these nations,” said President Obama from  speech on the White House lawn, Tuesday.  “Once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people.”

Pentagon spokesperson Lieutenant General Bill Mayville, also said, according to the BBC, the attacks in Syria were organized in three separate waves.  The US carried out the first wave of airstrikes while the other Middle Eastern nations participated in the second and third waves of airstrikes.

Secretary of State John Kerry also spoke Tuesday about the efforts to stop ISIS.  Kerry said to the UN, “We will hold them responsible for their grotesque atrocities.”

Why are America’s Allies funding ISIS in Iraq?

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is currently storming its way through Iraq, was funded for years by rich donors from our supposed allies in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

According to The Daily Beast, Kuwait’s involvement is an ironic twist since back in 1990, the U.S. attacked Iraq in order to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s clutches. Now Kuwait is helping the rise of his successors.

As ISIS takes over town after town in Iraq, they are acquiring money and supplies including American-made vehicles, arms and ammunition. The group reportedly scored $430 million when they looted the main bank in Mosul.

“Everybody knows the money is going through Kuwait and that it’s coming from the Arab Gulf,” said Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Kuwait’s banking system and its money changers have long been a huge problem because they are a major conduit for money to extremist groups in Syria and now Iraq.”

Donors in Kuwait, the Sunni majority Kingdom on Iraq’s border, have taken advantage of Kuwait’s weak financial rules to channel hundreds of millions of dollars to a host of Syrian rebel brigades, according to a December 2013 report by The Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank that receives some funding from the Qatari government.

ISIS formed in April 2013 out of al-Qaeda in Iraq and an affiliate in Syria.

According to the Telegraph, ISIS has gained most of its financing from smuggling, extortion and other crime.

There is an apparent paradigm shift occurring in the U.S. regarding its foreign policy.

Congressman Mick Mulvaney made this statement on Facebook: “As I said in the Facebook town hall meeting Monday night, my immediate reaction is that getting involved in what is essentially a religious civil war (Shia v. Sunni) sounds like a really bad idea.”

Senator Rand Paul in his recent op-ed said, “Today the Middle East is less stable than in 2003. The Iraq war strengthened Iran’s influence in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Sunni extremists backed by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar have filled the vacuum. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has taken over the cities of Mosul, Tikrit and is on the march to Baghdad.”

“This administration, through bad decision-making that I specifically warned against, has already indirectly aided al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria—the very group some now propose to counter with U.S. troops,” he added.

Paul continued, “For the small group calling for boots on the ground—how can we ask our brave men and women to risk their lives for a country the Iraqis aren’t willing to fight for themselves? Iraqi soldiers are stripping off their uniforms and fleeing this fight. We shouldn’t ask our soldiers to put their uniforms on to take their places.”