by Ghassan Kadi
When Qatar received its independence from Britain in 1971, its population was a meagre 100,000. Fifty years or so later, its population has ballooned to nearly 2.2 million, but only 275,000 are actual Qataris. The rest are not migrants, they are not going to be integrated in the population as fully fledged citizens, they are simply hired expats on contracts, performing different tasks, and when they finish their work, they return to their homes.
In the few centuries leading up to its independence, successive Qatari emirs have engaged in fierce battles with rulers of Bahrain and the Wahhabis of Najd (to become later on Saudi Arabia). The Al-Thani family took the throne by the mid nineteenth century, and they continue to do so today.
The peninsula that was marred by regional and tribal conflict was otherwise a quaint pearling centre until oil was discovered in the 1930’s.
When the British declared Qatar as a protectorate, a reciprocal deal was struck between the Qatari rulers and the British, in which Britain wanted to secure safe trade routes whilst the Qataris needed protection from their neighbours and rivals.
The new-found oil wealth might have reduced the need of those warring tribes to continue fighting over limited resources, but their rivalries and hatred towards each other did not go away. As a matter of fact, Qatar refused to join the United Arab Emirates and chose independence instead.
The seemingly united Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is in reality a consortium of ancient enemies who were brought together by common fear over their wealth from would-be invaders. Certainly, over and above their fear of each other, they also fear Iran and this fear goes back to the days of the Shah and beyond, and it is much deeper than a sheer sectarian Sunni-Shiite hatred.
Security has always been a Qatari obsession, and it doesn’t take much research effort to read about the many military conflicts that the Qataris have had with their neighbours. It’s a long story of deception, treachery, distrust, invasions and pillaging. And what is interesting is to note that historically speaking, the Qatari rulers had no qualms seeking protection from friends afar against their local neighbours.
But why would a country, which has never been a true state in its own right till very recently, a so-called nation that has a population that is no bigger than that of a single district of Damascus, Aleppo or Baghdad, why would such a tiny insignificant entity want to be a regional leader? And why would it be so adamant about using Islamist Jihadists to destroy much older and bigger states like Iraq, Libya and Syria?
The more one looks into what Qatar is doing, the question of why it is doing so become less significant. The question changes from why is Qatar doing what it is doing to the question of what Qatar really is.
Qatar is not a nation. It does not have the foundations of a nation. Qatar is not even a state when it has the population of a municipality, and it is definitely not a regional leader.
Qatar ought to be seen for what it is. Qatar is simply a very big and rich company. It is not any different from Shell Oil or BP, with the single difference that it has a UN-given mandate that gives it a seat as a UN member and the legitimacy that comes with it, something that private corporations do not have.
This is on the political scene. On the military scene, Qatar is a much more sinister “company”. In this respect, it is not a Western partner, a colony, a vassal state, an agent state or an ally in strategic military alliance.
Qatar is simply an outpost, a precinct, but not for America as first comes to one’s mind.
The rise of Blackwater Security Company to prominence, a couple of decades ago, raised some eyebrows about the nature of future reliance of rich states on hired security. Qatar most certainly depends on the USA for its defence, just like historically it has depended on Britain. Strategically, it has reciprocated favours with the American “Big Brother” when it offered its soil as a base to launch the attacks on Saddam.
Geopolitically, Qatar has played a big role serving the interests of the same “Big Brother” in Syria. It spent billions on munitions to supply Al-Nusra Front, and other terrorist organizations within Syria. Speaking of Syria, one should not forget the huge role that Qatar played in Libya against Gaddafi.
In both Libya and Syria, the role of Qatar was not restricted to financing revolts, but Qatar has also contributed significantly to the propaganda campaign, using its elaborate Al-Jazeera network to ramp up public anger against both Gaddafi and Assad.
Al-Jazeera has gone to the extent of staging events in Hollywood style productions, creating backgrounds that are similar to iconic places in major Syrian towns and filming scenes of actors dressed up in Syrian Army uniforms performing massacres against civilians.
So once again, how and why would such a small “nation” be so adamant on destroying Syria?
And here’s another big question. America has a major ally in the Arabian Peninsula, and this ally is Saudi Arabia, so why does America need another major ally in the same region? Convenience can be an answer to some situations. For example, when the US needed a base on the ground to attack Iraq, it couldn’t have used Saudi soil (being Muslim holy ground) without angering the Muslim street to an extreme, so Qatar was a handy religiously-neutral ground. By why does the US need Qatar in the fight against Syria? And why would America continue to intimidate its Saudi friends by appeasing their Qatari rivals?
A closer analysis clearly shows that Saudi and Qatari policies in Syria have had many congruencies, but some stark differences as well. In Egypt, The Qataris supported the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi and the Saudis did not. In as much that they both sponsored all terrorist organizations, Saudi Arabia primarily backed the “Free Syria Army” (FSA), The Army of Islam and other minor organizations, whilst Qatar was the main backer of Al-Nusra Front and what later became ISIS.
The polarization of Qatar with Turkey forming an MB-based front against Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabi-Salafist front became more obvious when Qatar absconded and refused to attend GCC meetings. Needless to say that the major leadership rival for Saudi Arabia is the Sunni Turkey, not the Shiite Iran.
What is least obvious behind the Turkish-backed support of Qatar is the silent partner; Israel. Now, after the downing of the Su-24, Erdogan wants to build a military base in Qatar. How odd indeed? Why does Turkey need a base in Qatar? And how would America allow having a non-American base in Qatar?
Perhaps the question becomes easier to answer if we ask it in a different manner; if we ask who is it that really needs a military base in Qatar? Again, the only non-Qatari party that would love to have a base in Qatar is none but Israel.
It is easy to allow imagination to fly and go astray, but given the American-Iranian nuclear deal, any Israeli attack on Iran needs a launch pad that is close enough to Tehran, and you cannot get much closer than Qatar. Is the proposed Turkish base in Qatar going to be a disguised Israeli base? This is not a far-fetched speculation.
The relationship between Qatar and Israel is weird, unique, and perhaps the first of its kind. Qatar is not hiring Israel for a fee per se. Israel is protecting the “company” of Qatar and using its UN state membership status to legitimize actions that can only be sanctioned by states; a new type of warfare that not even Blackwater is capable of doing.
Qatar is neither a nation nor a state. It is a major corporation like Haliburton. It has a UN-given guise of a state, but it is a corporation that seeks survival and in doing so, it has contracted its security to Israel. Strategically and geopolitically, Qatar is an extension of Israel in the Gulf, an Israeli outpost and precinct. Its aspirations for regional leadership are just a façade created to hide its actual substance and to mislead observers from what it really is.
A clan with 200,000 subjects who need 2 million foreign expats to look after them, ten expats for each national, in order to make sure that water and hospitals are running, there is food on the supermarket shelves, and teachers are there to teach their children, is not by any measure a regional leader, a self-respecting nation, let alone a nation. A tribe is perhaps a good description of Qatar, but the word “company” hits the nail on the head.
The Al-Thani clan, the owners of the “company” aka Qatar, have gone the full circle. They are back on the track of their treacherous predecessors who were prepared to sign off to the devil in order to guarantee their security. This is exactly what the current Qatari royals are doing with Israel, and the best protection Qatar can get from Israel is by covertly striking a deal with Israel in which Qatar is rendered a military Israeli outpost.
Every other action Qatar does that is not directly related to its security, is simply a cover up and a diversion.