Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Showing posts for "Qatar"

Guess Who’s Coming to (the GCC) Dinner?

by Elliott Abrams

On May 13 and 14, President Obama will be hosting a summit meeting with the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation. The members nations are Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar.

The problem is, it may not exactly be a “summit” meeting at all. Sultan Qaboos of Oman has been ill, as is Sheik Khalifa, president of the UAE. Two down. I imagine the king of Bahrain, King Hamad, will attend, and so will the young Emir of Qatar, Sheik Tamim. Read more »

The Gaza War and the Feeble PA

by Elliott Abrams

The Gaza war took a new turn today, when Hamas violated a cease-fire in order to kill and capture IDF soldiers. The reasonable conclusion to draw is that Hamas’s agreement to the cease-fire was a ruse, meant to give them this opportunity.

That action has several effects beyond destroying the cease-fire itself and prolonging the war. It certainly solidifies Israeli public backing for the war, which was extremely high anyway. The nature of the enemy is made even clearer. The contemptible nature of so much of the criticism of Israel around the world is also made clearer, coming from voices that appear indifferent to the nature and conduct of Hamas, to Israeli deaths, and to the deaths of Arabs anywhere else—in Syria, for example—as long as Jews are not responsible for those deaths and if there’s no opportunity to criticize Israel. Read more »

Gaza: More Negotiations

by Elliott Abrams

With Ban ki-Moon and John Kerry arriving in Cairo today, there will be lots of talk about a cease-fire deal. It is important that the United States keep Egypt in the forefront, and keep using the term “cease-fire.”

As to Egypt, it is not only that the Egyptian government shares our own view of Hamas as a terrorist group whose influence and military capabilities must be fought. That alone is a reason for the United States to want Egypt, not Qatar or Turkey, to be central. It is also that Egypt has genuine national security interests at stake here because it is a neighbor to Gaza. Terrorist activities in Gaza and Sinai matter to Egypt in a way that they do not to Qatar or Turkey. Any agreement that improves Hamas’s chances of importing more weaponry harms Egypt’s security, and the Egyptians have a right to a say in this. Read more »

Arafat and al-Jazeera: Manufacturing Trouble

by Elliott Abrams

This week Russian experts added their voices to those of French experts who had examined Yasser Arafat’s remains to determine if he was poisoned.

“French experts have ruled out a theory that Yasser Arafat was killed by poisoning,” AFP reported several weeks ago. Now BBC reports that “Announcing its conclusions on Thursday, the head of Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency (FMBA), Vladimir Uiba, said ‘Yasser Arafat died not from the effects of radiation but of natural causes.'” Read more »

Fifteen Years for a Poem?

by Elliott Abrams

In 2011, with the “Arab Spring” under way, a Qatari poet named Mohammed el-Ajami wrote a poem. It contained this line: “We are all Tunisia in the face of the repressive elite.” He has also criticized, apparently in prose, the presence of American forces in Qatar, writing that  “I hope that change will come in countries whose ignorant leaders believe that glory lies in U.S. forces.” Read more »

Slave Labor in Qatar: A Test for Al Jazeera

by Elliott Abrams

Qatar will be the host of the 2022 World Cup, and has underway what may total $100 billion in construction projects.

But the tiny emirate has a tiny native population, and 90% of those living there are foreigners. It is foreign laborers who will build all these new roads, stadiums, hotels, and the like, and it now emerges that they live and work in misery. The Guardian of London now reports a story entitled  “Revealed: Qatar’s World Cup ‘Slaves.'” Read more »

Where Is Qatar Heading?

by Elliott Abrams

On June 25th a new Emir took over the leadership of Qatar. The question is whether he brought with him new policies.

Yesterday a sign of the old Qatari orientation emerged: Egypt returned a remarkable $2 billion to Qatar. Relations between the two countries remain nasty: Egypt has closed the offices of Al Jazeera (the station owned by the Qataris), detained some Al Jazeera journalists, and refused to increase the number of flights between Doha and Cairo. As VOA reported, “Cairo’s relations with Qatar deteriorated after the Egyptian army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi on July 3. Qatar had been a firm backer of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and lent or gave Egypt $7.5 billion during the year he was in power.” Read more »