Qatar and the Goliaths of the Gulf, By Owei Lakemfa
The United States is the friend of the mouse and ally of the rat; it divines invisibility for the cockroach, and to the hen, the power of detecting the invisible. This to the world’s most powerful country, is ‘The Art of the Deal’.
The Goliaths of the Gulf, including power house, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, gave tiny Qatar thirteen demands which they know the latter cannot comply with. Some of them, such as demanding that Qatar pays compensation for “its policies”, are so outlandish and open-ended that even those making them cannot specify what they want or mean. It is as unreasonable as that. The choice they offer the tiny peninsular is not compliance with their ‘demands’ but the type of lethal poison Qatar wants administered on it. To boot, it has until this weekend to comply.
To me, the most outrageous demand is that Aljazeera, the television network and its affiliate stations across the Middle East, be shut down. It is an affront on the media worldwide and a bestial attack on the fundamental freedom of speech. The mass media is mass culture, and one of the primary ways Europe and America control the world. The fear of the Goliaths is not Qatar, but the ideas Aljazeera has helped to spread. The Gulf states and their principals are uncomfortable with Aljazeera, the first Third World media that professionally, financially and competently competes and challenges the media hegemony of the West. With millions of viewers across the world, Aljazeera has joined the ranks of the BBC, VOA, Sky News and CNN in setting the agenda for humanity. Generally, the mass media is so powerful that in many cases it controls minds and conditions how people think or react. While the gun can control a person temporarily, the media can persuade and convince a person permanently. The English trite that the pen is mightier than the sword, holds true even with the development of nuclear weapons. This is a major reason why big, powerful countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and their masters, are afraid of tiny Qatar.
To enslave a person, you need to enslave his mind, strip him of his past and convince him that he has no history and that he owes his present and future to you. That was what colonialism did to the colonised peoples. To achieve this, the colonisers depended a lot on the written and spoken word. It is that monopoly that a media like Aljazeera is challenging. To understand how the West manipulates humanity through the media, listen to its language. For instance, when rebels fight a government, the insurgents are called rebels while the government side are called ‘government troops’. But in Syria, the Western media calls the rebels ‘Free Syria Army’ or troops, while the government troops are referred to as “regime troops’ or ‘Assad forces’. If foreigners are jailed for crimes in the West and America, they are referred to as ‘prisoners’. But if foreigners are jailed for crimes in North Korea, they are called ‘hostages.’
Generally, the naked attempt of the Gulf Goliaths to muzzle the press has gone unchallenged. Those who claim they are champions of free speech and press freedom have mainly kept quiet. In fact some of them characterise this brutal attack on press freedom as a ‘family affair’.
There are a dozen other demands. The second demand is that Qatar cuts ties with Iran by shutting down its diplomatic missions in Doha, expels its military attache and reduces trade ties with Teheran. This is a direct challenge to Qatar’s sovereign rights and an attempt to sharpen, rather than bridge, the sectarian divide between the Sunnis and Shiites in the Muslim world.
Primarily, the Gulf giants want Qatar to hand over political refugees like those of the Muslim Brotherhood to their home countries where they would face imprisonment or death.
The third is that Qatar shuts down the Turkish military base that is under construction. Here, the first point is that the Turkish troops in Qatar are a few hundreds with a projected increase to 1,000. This is in comparison with the 11,000 American troops stationed in the country at the Al Udeid Airbase. The base itself was constructed by Qatar in the 1990s at the cost of $1 Billion and in every ten minutes, an aircraft takes off or lands at the base. This is a reflection of how busy this base is; it is the largest American base in the Middle East. The Gulf giants are not interested in such a huge American military presence, but are worried that a handful of troops from a fellow Muslim country is based in Qatar. The demand is both a challenge to that country’s sovereignty, and an invitation that Qatar stripes itself of any reliable military defence in case of aggression. If this were to happen, then it can be raped at will by neigbours and brothers who are already starving Qataris. Part of the plan might also be to cause disaffection in the country, trigger an ‘Arab Spring’ and destroy Qatar as was done to Libya and Syria, and is being done to Yemen.
The fourth and fifth demands are that Qatar cuts all ties with “terrorist” organisations and stops funding them. Listed are ISIL and the Al Nusra Front, organisations which the Gulf giants making the demands initially funded and supported in Syria as ‘freedom fighters’. They did not provide evidence that after their change of mind on both terrorist organisations, Qatar continues to fund them. They also provide no evidence of Qatari support for al-Qaeda. The organisations Qatar was ordered to cut links with include the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s former ruling party led by President Mohammed Morsi, overthrown on July 3, 2013 by ruling dictator, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The demand that Qatar distances itself from the Brotherhood seems a concession the big boys are making to the stone age dictator in Cairo. Also, the demand that Qatar abandons Lebanon’s Hezbollah, is a gift to Israel. Hezbollah, the ‘Party of God’, led by Hassan Nasrallah is the most effective fighting force in Lebanon, which in 2000 forced Israel out of Lebanon.
The sixth and seventh demands are that Qatar hands over ‘terrorists’ and fugitives taking shelter in the country, and revokes their citizenship where they have been given. Primarily, the Gulf giants want Qatar to hand over political refugees like those of the Muslim Brotherhood to their home countries where they would face imprisonment or death.
Meanwhile, the Trump presidency is playing both sides; encouraging the Goliaths to suffocate Qatar, while simultaneously, selling sophisticated arms to the latter. The United States is the friend of the mouse and ally of the rat; it divines invisibility for the cockroach, and to the hen, the power of detecting the invisible. This to the world’s most powerful country, is ‘The Art of the Deal’. It is business without conscience, politics without principles and relationship without morals.
Owei Lakemfa, former Secretary General of African Workers is a Human Rights activist, journalist and author.