When one says Al Jazeera, one says Qatar, or more precisely, the Emir of that autocratic state – Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. Qatar is a family business; an undemocratic state-run by one tribe. Unelected, unaccountable and all-powerful, its current leader came to power by staging a coup against his own father in 1995 whilst the latter was on holiday in Switzerland. Ironically, the father had used the same method to gain power himself in 1971.
Political parties are outlawed in Qatar, where the leader always knows best. The partly elected Municipal Council (one-third of its members are appointed by the Emir) has succeeded in initiating such dramatic reforms as a major overhaul in the method used to calculate fines for traffic offences.
In 1996 the Emir issued a decree ordering the establishment of Al Jazeera which came with a five-year budget of $137 million. At least until 2005 it was still receiving financial aid from the Qatari government which also owns some of its shares. In a region of the world in which illiteracy is high and therefore newspaper circulation low, most people get their news from satellite TV. In Arab countries Al Jazeera is free; viewers only need to buy a satellite dish –often a wedding gift of choice – for around $100 in order to receive broadcasts.
Often at the centre of controversy, Al Jazeera has seen one of its journalists imprisoned in Spain after being found guilty of collaboration with Al Qaida, another exposed as being on the payroll of the Saddam Hussein regime, has had frequent spats with the Palestinian Authority already and will be remembered by Israeli readers for its aiding Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War.
In recent years the Qatari regime’s political alliances have taken a shift towards Iran, Syria, Hizbollah and Hamas, including the financing of the Islamist theocratic regime in Gaza.
“Individual Qatari officials have supported radical Islamists in the past. For example, in the 1990s, September 11 plotter Khaled Shaikh Muhammad worked in Qatar as an engineer. When the United States discovered his presence and demanded his arrest, a Qatari minister aided his flight to Pakistan. In the case of Hamas, however, Qatari support has been official policy. Qatar allows Hamas to maintain official offices in the country, permits Hamas to raise funds there through charities and telethons, and regularly hosts Hamas officials. Over the past few years, official government support for Hamas has increased drastically. Mashal and other Hamas leaders divide their time between Doha and the Syrian capital, Damascus. According to Mashal, Hamas “established a relation with Qatar ever since Prince Hamad bin Khalifa was the heir to the crown. A good relation[ship] developed with the people of Qatar. After he held the reins of power, the relation[ship] remained good. I had a personal relation with the prince and his minister of foreign affairs, Shaikh Hamad bin Jasem bin Jabr.”
The Muslim Brotherhood leader and resident of Qatar Sheikh Yousef al Qaradawi regularly has his sermons broadcast on Al Jazeera TV. Qaradawi is, of course, the founder of the ‘Union of Good’ – the Muslim Brotherhood umbrella organization which includes the Turkish IHH, members of which initiated the violence aboard the ‘Mavi Marmara’, as well as the ECESG which organizes the flotillas.
Some of Qaradawi’s ‘highlights’ broadcast on Al Jazeera include:
“Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place.
“This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.” […]
(January 30, 2009)
“To conclude my speech, I’d like to say that the only thing I hope for is that as my life approaches its end, Allah will give me an opportunity to go to the land of Jihad and resistance, even if in a wheelchair.
“I will shoot Allah’s enemies, the Jews, and they will throw a bomb at me, and thus, I will seal my life with martyrdom. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Allah’s mercy and blessings upon you.”
(January 28, 2009)
“Here in Qatar, we have a branch of Marks and Spencer, which regularly dedicates its Saturday revenue to Israel. We have a Starbucks, which serves coffee. They used to hang a sign on the doors of their shops: ‘We benefit our most important partner, which is Israel, we help in the education of students in Israel, we help build up the Israeli defense arsenal,’ and so on. People go and drink their expensive coffee. Instead of paying 2 riyals for a cup of coffee, they pay 20 riyals. This Starbucks is Zionist. Why do we not teach the nation to make do with its own products, when possible, even if they are of lesser quality? This is the only way the nation will rise. My brothers, put the boycott against the nation’s enemies into action. Every riyal you pay turns into a bullet in the heart of your brothers in Gaza and in other Islamic countries.” […]
“Oh Allah, take your enemies, the enemies of Islam. Oh Allah, take the Jews, the treacherous aggressors. Oh Allah, take this profligate, cunning, arrogant band of people. Oh Allah, they have spread much tyranny and corruption in the land. Pour Your wrath upon them, oh our God. Lie in wait for them. Oh Allah, You annihilated the people of Thamoud at the hand of a tyrant, and You annihilated the people of ‘Aad with a fierce, icy gale. Oh Allah, You annihilated the people Thamoud at the hand of a tyrant, You annihilated the people of ‘Aad with a fierce, icy gale, and You destroyed the Pharaoh and his soldiers – oh Allah, take this oppressive, tyrannical band of people. Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people. Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.”
In one of the ‘Palestine Papers’ published by the Guardian, Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala) is quoted as saying:
“Our situation in the region is difficult. Iran is against us. Qatar is against us…”
There can be no doubt that the Palestinian Authority’s situation has now become considerably more difficult due to the Guardian’s decision to join forces with Al Jazeera and publish these leaked papers. It will be of no consequence whether the documents are genuine or fake; in this part of the world a rumour, no matter how unsubstantiated, is enough to set events in action and those events often cost lives.
With this latest exercise in the careless dissemination of secret and sensitive documents – upon which the Guardian appears to have become quite hooked – numerous points have become crystal clear.
The Guardian is prepared to co-operate with a propaganda outlet bankrolled and controlled by an undemocratic regime which finances and supports terrorism, allies itself with some of the world’s worst human rights abusers and promotes Islamist racism and incitement to terror and murder – simply in order to gratify its own addiction to attacking Israel and the United States.
The Guardian is ideologically entrenched within the camp of Hamas supporters and enablers, and seems prepared to gamble with the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis.
The Guardian has abandoned its role as a member of the ‘fourth estate’ and become a fifth column for those who oppose any kind of compromise-based negotiated settlement in the Middle East.
The only question which remains unanswered is who paid who to promote this campaign.