[News] Israel backs Saudi Arabia in confrontation with Qatar
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jun 7 12:08:01 EDT 2017
Israel backs Saudi Arabia in confrontation with Qatar
Ali Abunimah <https://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah> 6 June
Israeli officials have gleefully endorsed the position of Saudi Arabia
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/saudi-arabia> and the United Arab
Emirates <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/united-arab-emirates> in a
growing confrontation with Qatar, the most public acknowledgment yet of
the deepening alliance
certain Gulf states and Tel Aviv over their common enmity towards Iran.
Meanwhile, evidence has emerged of close cooperation between the United
Arab Emirates and a key Israel lobby group to pressure Qatar over its
support for the Palestinian resistance organization Hamas.
On Monday, Saudi Arabia and several of its satellite states, including
the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, broke off diplomatic relations
with Qatar and imposed a blockade, cutting land, sea and air links to
Regional media reported that shelves in stores in Qatar, whose only land
border is with Saudi Arabia, were quickly emptied as residents feared a
prolonged closure could lead to food shortages.
Justifying its decision, Saudi Arabia has accused
<http://lobelog.com/whats-happening-in-the-persian-gulf/> Doha of “grave
violations” such as “adopting various terrorist and sectarian groups
aimed at destabilizing the region,” including the Muslim Brotherhood,
Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and al-Qaida.
Israeli officials were quick to offer their support to Saudi Arabia.
“New line drawn in the Middle Eastern sand,” Michael Oren, Israel’s
deputy minister for diplomacy, proclaimed on Twitter
longer Israel against Arabs but Israel and Arabs against Qatar-financed
Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman declared
that the crisis was an “opportunity for cooperation” between Israel and
certain Gulf states.
“It is clear to everyone, even in the Arab countries, that the real
danger to the entire region is terrorism,” Lieberman claimed. He added
that the Saudi-led bloc had cut ties with Qatar “not because of Israel,
not because of the Jews, not because of Zionism,” but “rather from fears
Chagai Tzuriel, a top official in Israel’s intelligence ministry, told
/The Times of Israel/
that Qatar was a “pain in the ass” to other “Sunni” Arab states allied
Israel’s former defense minister Moshe Yaalon also expressed backing for
the Saudi-led sectarian coalition. “The Sunni Arab countries, apart from
Qatar, are largely in the same boat with us since we all see a nuclear
Iran as the number one threat against all of us,” he said
at a ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of Israel’s military
occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Syria’s Golan Heights.
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia continued to escalate
the situation, suspending the license of Qatar Airways and ordering its
banks to sell the Qatari currency.
Who supports “terror”?
While Saudi Arabia offered no evidence for its charges against Qatar,
the accusations are rich coming from a regime that has been one of the
biggest sources of funding
to so-called jihadi groups going back decades
But like Saudi Arabia, Qatar too has been accused of financing
or allowing money to flow
to ISIS and al-Qaida-affiliated groups in Syria.
Israel has also had no problem with al-Qaida linked groups, and even
ISIS, in Syria, offering them various kinds of cooperation and material
So the source of Saudi ire must lie elsewhere. Qatar has for years,
along with Saudi Arabia, been part of the counterrevolution
to thwart or reverse the so-called Arab Spring uprisings.
Qatar was taking part
in the Saudi-led war on Yemen, before being kicked out
<http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/breakingnews/30317229> of the
coalition this week.
The two-year bombing campaign in Yemen has killed thousands of civilians
and brought the impoverished country to the brink of famine
But Qatar has often found itself backing different horses
supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, while Riyadh has backed the
regime of Abdulfattah al-Sisi, the army chief who led the 2013 military
coup that overthrew the elected Muslim Brotherhood president in Cairo.
These differences had soured relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia
But Saudi Arabia may have been emboldened to act now, after US President
Donald Trump gave full endorsement
to strengthening a Saudi-led anti-Iran alliance during his visit to
Riyadh last month.
Targeting Hamas and Iran
Qatar has continued to host the leaders of the Palestinian resistance
group Hamas and has been under pressure
<http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=777510> to expel the group’s
officials – Israeli media claims that Qatar did expel two officials are
But the biggest difference appears to be that Qatar has not been willing
to fully sign up to the Saudi-Israeli alliance against Iran.
A deal in April in which Qatar allegedly paid about $700 million in
ransom to release members of its royal family abducted by an
Iran-affiliated group in Iraq reportedly enraged officials in other Gulf
Qatar also reportedly paid about $300 million in ransom to several
al-Qaida linked groups in Syria, according
/The Financial Times./
Also in April, Qatar lifted a self-imposed ban
developing a major maritime natural gas field it shares with Iran, which
would necessitate cooperation
<http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.793798> between the two
countries, according to the Tel Aviv newspaper /Haaretz/.
Things came to a head around the time of Trump’s visit and his summit
with regional leaders.
Qatar’s national news agency published comments
attributed to the country’s leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani,
calling Iran “a regional and Islamic power that cannot be ignored” and
asserting that “it is unwise to face up against it.”
Tamim also purportedly said his country’s relations with Israel were
“good.” Qatar has flatly denied the statements are real, claiming that
the news agency’s website and social media accounts were hacked.
Qatar has historically maintained relations with Israel, even welcoming
its then foreign minister Tzipi Livni to Doha in 2008.
But the Qatar-based network Al Jazeera has cited the fake comments as a
trigger for the crisis, accusing Saudi Arabia and its allies of using
them as a pretext to move against Qatar.
UAE embraces Israel
Another factor is the close relationship between the United Arab
Emirates and Israel.
Hacked emails published by /The Intercept/
reveal coordination between the Emirates ambassador in Washington,
Yousef Al-Otaiba, and the neoconservative pro-Israel think tank
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
The emails reveal “a remarkable level of backchannel cooperation”
between the Emirates and the think tank, which is funded by billionaire
Sheldon Adelson <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/sheldon-adelson>, a
close ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to
The email exchanges included complaints from the Israel lobby group
about Qatar’s support for Hamas “terrorists.”
An agenda <https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3766679-FDD2.html>
for a meeting between leaders of the Israel lobby group and Emirates
ambassador al-Otaiba scheduled for this month includes such items as
“Qatar support for radical Islamists” including Hamas, Qatar’s
“destabilizing role in Egypt, Syria, Libya and the Gulf” and the role of
the Qatar-backed Al Jazeera network.
It also includes ways to reduce the influence Qatar gains from hosting a
major US air base.
One of the items on the agenda is “Political, economic, security sanctions.”
The agenda is evidence that the Foundation for Defense of Democracies –
a key player in Israel’s anti-Palestinian propaganda – was gearing up to
deliver in Washington the anti-Qatar message coming from Riyadh and the
United Arab Emirates.
The leaked documents reveal that the Saudi-led bloc is troubled by the
influence Qatar gains by hosting the massive American al-Udeid air base.
But this is precisely why the US, the overall imperial power, has no
interest in a squabble among states that it views as vassals.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson affirmed the importance
of US ties with all the states involved and offered to mediate, urging
the feuding rulers to “remain unified.”
The US military lauded
Qatar for its “enduring commitment to regional security” and affirmed it
had “no plans to change our posture in Qatar.”
Qatar has taken these messages as signs of strong US support, but as
ever Trump was quick to throw everything into doubt.
“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no
longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar - look!”
Tuesday, appearing to directly endorse the Saudi-led campaign against Doha.
“So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries
already paying off,” he added
they would take a hard line on funding extremism and all reference was
pointing to Qatar.”
“Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of
terrorism,” the president asserted. More likely, Trump is pouring
gasoline on an already burning region.
A long-term goal of Israel has long been to divide Arab powers against
each other, to “let them bleed,” as the official Israeli doctrine on
Whatever happens next, Israel will continue to benefit from the chaos
and divisions that only strengthen its hand.
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