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"

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 »

Sandmonkey, Egypt, and the IMF

by Elliott Abrams

When I began this blog a little more than two years ago, one of the early posts was entitled “Free Sandmonkey.” Sandmonkey is the “nom de blog” of Mahmoud Salem, then Egypt’s most famous blogger, and he had that day in 2011 been “ambushed & beaten by the police, my phone confiscated, my car ripped apar& supplies taken,” as he informed his readers. He continues to be one of the most interesting and persuasive commentators on events in Egypt. Read more »

Qatar in Mali: Which Side Are They On?

by Elliott Abrams
French soldiers stand guard in front of charred pickup trucks in Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013. (Courtesy REUTERS/Joe Penney). French soldiers stand guard in front of charred pickup trucks in Diabaly, Mali, January 21, 2013. (Courtesy REUTERS/Joe Penney).

In the last decade the influence of Qatar has grown greatly, fueled by its vast oil and gas revenues and by the skill of its leaders. Whether that influence is being used positively, or in ways that comport with American interests, are separate matters. Read more »

Qatar and Bahrain

by Elliott Abrams

My post yesterday about Qatar’s support for the crushing of popular demonstrations in Bahrain has occasioned a fair amount of angry comment (here and on Twitter). My point was that when Qatar supports the call for democracy and free elections in Libya but assists in the smashing of demonstrations in Bahrain it is pursuing a foreign policy detached from principle. Read more »

How Brave Is Qatar?

by Elliott Abrams

Qatar has acquired a reputation for sharp, quick responses to crises in the Arab world and for modern and unorthodox thinking.

It is undeserved.

Qatari diplomatic activity is designed to advance the interests of the tiny country and of its ruling family. Its adoption of the Libyan opposition, for example, is not based on any principle (such as liberty, democracy, or free elections), for the Qatari government and its TV station, Al Jazeera, have been notably silent about the crisis in Bahrain. There, they have backed the royal family and the Saudi-led GCC armed presence. Read more »