Friday, December 31, 2004
Last February, Russia killed Former Chechen President Zelimkhan Yanderbiyev who was residing in Qatar. He was assassinated when his car exploded killing him, his 2 bodyguards, and seriously wounding his son.
Qatar then arrested 2 Russian intelligence agents in Doha and tried them for murder on Qatari soil. The 2 Russians were sentenced to life in prison. Russian denied any involvement in the attack and called for the release of the 2 men.
Just over a week ago, Qatar put the 2 prisoners on a lavish private jet and flew them to their homeland. Imagine that: 2 intelligence agents from a foreign country carried out a sophisticated assassination mission inside Qatar, a rich small island known for its peaceful climate. Qatar's highest courts sentenced the 2 foreigners to life in prison and after 11 months we find them back in Russia again. It is crystal clear that Qatar did succumb to Russian pressures that could have damaged the crucial economic relations between the 2 countries.
It is sad that America cannot until today grow enough claws, like the ones that Russia grew, when dealing with Qatar. The Emir of the island agreed to release two murderers (based upon the Qatari court decision) for the Russians yet the US cannot add enough pressure on the guy to shut down Al Jazeera channel or at least fire its top radical crew and replace them with more moderate ones like what Saudi Arabia did with Al Arabiya.
I have talked before about Al Jazeera, the nature of its top management, and its agenda. I just want to briefly mention something about one of the channel's pillars: Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood cleric who resides in Qatar under the auspices of the Emir. Al Jazeera was his brainchild and he currently has a program he uses to dish out his fatwas to millions across the world. Qaradawi, who is forbidden from entering the United Emirates, called for the murder of US civilians in Iraq and he has provided tacit backing for the terrorists there. Ironically, the multimillionaire Sheikh who is married to a girl at the age of his granddaughters has 2 sons studying in universities INSIDE THE USA. He also did not include British citizens on his death list because the United Kingdom issued him an entry visa so that he can inaugurate an Islamic center in London!
Anyway, why can't the US grow some claws when dealing with Qatar? Because the US has the largest military base there and it uses this base for the military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, the Emir of Qatar managed to convince some people in the US that he is a reformist and that Qatar will be a model for the other Gulf States. This is true. The Emir did undergo some reform and modernization in his island, but I personally do not think that he can be a moderate while funneling millions of dollars to a channel like Al Jazeera. His royal highness has to drop one of the two.
When will the US government grow some Russian claws? When will the US government (be it Republican or Democrat) put the interests of its people and its real allies (the Iraqi policeman who is risking his life with US soldiers) ahead of Saudi Arabia's oil and Qatar's military base? When will Americans help their government in doing so by driving less SUVs?