money, political analysis, politics, Qatar, rebel arms, Syria
With Morsi gone, Qatar suddenly became “persona non grata” in Egypt.
Alster, Paul. “Qatar’s Risky Overreach.” The Investigative Project on Terrorism, August 15, 2013.
Only last week the Taliban opened an office in Doha in expectation of negotiations with the US and Afghan governments. Qatar reportedly bankrolled it to the tune of $100m.
Popham, Peter. “Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani; The Emir from Sandhurst who’s been given the keys to the kingdom.” The Independent, June 25, 2013.
* * *
Among the persistent questions coming out of the range of the Islamic Small Wars has been something along the lines of, “How come the USA is drone bombing the Taliban in Pakistan but supporting similar Al Qaeda-type elements on the field in Syria?”
Of course, the details count, and in Syria General Idris’s Free Syrian Army — or perhaps portions of it along the archipelago of revolutionary bands — has been fighting al-Nusra and such, but still the arms reach extremists and those bands get around the country that has become a theater of war.
The answer may reside with what economist Adam Smith referred to as “the invisible hand of the market”.
According to the Popham piece cited above and a story by Paul Waldie cited in reference, Qatar’s new minted emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has taken control of an empire that includes the following (I’ve put in associated URLs, easier to do for a blog than for print):
- the Shard
- Barclay’s (enough to rescue it)
- Camden Market
- Canary Wharf
- Heathrow Airport
- London Stock Exchange
- Olympic Park
- United States London Embassy Building
The strength of the money perhaps should not be underestimated, nor should the locks provided by the wildness and strength of western societies in their most popular enthusiasms.
Now on to Syria.
* * *
From The Long War Journal:
Three groups, identified as the Ahrar al Sham (a known Syrian Islamist group that is sympathetic to al Qaeda and has fought alongside them in the past), the Ahfad al Rasoul Brigade, and the Islamic Kurdish Front, banded together and announced they would fight together with the Al Nusrah Front against the Kurdish group in northern Syria. One of those groups, the Ahfad al Rasoul Brigade, is funded by the Qatari government.
Roggio, Bill. “Qatar-funded Syrian rebel brigade backs Al Qaeda groups in Syria. The Long War Journal, July 26, 2013.
Posted in The New York Times:
In deals that have not been publicly acknowledged, Western officials and Syrian rebels say, Sudan’s government sold Sudanese- and Chinese-made arms to Qatar, which arranged delivery through Turkey to the rebels.
Chivers, C. J. and Eric Schmitt. “Arms Shipments Seen From Sudan to Syria Rebels.” The New York Times, August 12, 2013.
I’m wary about “deals that have not been publicly acknowledged” but a glance down the roster on the Syrian side of the issue — the anti-west propaganda machinery has been playing this theme hard — may suggest that the most legitimate of papers — The Gray Lady, no less — and the conservative Bill Roggio who has been on the Islamic Small Wars beat for years and others I trust (e.g., Daniel Greenfield at FrontPage) have mighty cause not to print this news: that they have nonetheless done so may lend credence to the suggestion in news that Qatar’s money has been purchasing more than pleasant residences in London.
Qatar’s participation in Syria, however it may be shaped, has had “I and my brother” repercussions:
“Saudi Arabia is now formally in charge of the Syria issue,” said a senior rebel military commander in one of northern Syria’s border provinces where Qatar has until now been the main supplier of arms to those fighting President Bashar al-Assad.
The outcome, many Syrian opposition leaders hope, could strengthen them in both negotiations and on the battlefield – while hampering some of the anti-Western Islamist hardliners in their ranks whom they say Qatar has been helping with weaponry.
Karouny, Mariam. “Saudi edges Qatar to control Syrian rebel support.” Chicago Tribune, May 31, 2013.
I recommend reading Mariam Karouny’s article for a wrap that perfectly captures the absurd contradictions involved in maintaining the deepest and most closed of Islamic autocracies while investing in and reaching through to the world’s most liberal quarters, which I in turn interpret, in essence, as sweet talking through an expansion of cultural influence and economic power.
If one, whether as winner of a strong-armed election or a more fairly produced one, wishes to weigh potential for the redevelopment of a good state or, perhaps, a geographic defense asset in Syria, does one either trust or validate Qatari or Iranian values — or does one just put off that day of reckoning?
In its iteration of this news, Voice of Russia has gone on to note denials all around of participation by all parties mentioned in a Qatari-funded, Chinese-benefiting, Sudan-to-Turkey-to-Syria rebel-arming system.
AFP. “Qatar’s new emir in Saudi for first foreign trip.” Fox News, August 2, 2013.
Bergin, Tom. “UPDATE 4-Qatar buys ‘major’ stake in oild giant Shell.” Reuters, May 11, 2012.
Eaton, George. “How Qatar bought London: The Shard, Harrods, Barclays, the Olympics Village — Qatar owns them all.” New Statesman, July 4, 2012.
Gower, Patrick. “Canary Wharf Gets Nod for Eight Buildings Near London Eye.” Bloomberg, May 22, 2013.
Gray, Melissa. “Qatari firm buys U.S. Embassy building in London.” CNN, November 3, 2009:
The signing of the deal is another major step in the embassy’s plans to relocate from its longtime headquarters in central London to a new site in Wandsworth, on the south bank of the River Thames.
Hobson, Sophie. “How much of London Qatar REALLY own – pictures.” London Loves Business, May 7, 2013.
J. Sainsbury plc. “Major shareholders”.
Khalaf, Roula and Abigail Fielding Smith. “Qatar bankrolls Syrian revolt with cash and arms.” Financial Times, May 16, 2013.
Kollewe, Julia. “Olympic Village snapped up by Qatari ruling family for £557m: UK taxpayers left £275m out of pocket after deal is reached by Olympic Delivery Authority.” The Guardian, August 12, 2013.
Neate, Rupert. “Qatar’s London assets.” Dawn, June 28, 2012:
“It’s not all about luxury, however. The Qatar Investment Authority also owns 20 per cent of Camden market in north London, via its holding in the property group Chelsfield.”
Milmo, Dan. “Qatar buys 20% stake in Heathrow operator.” The Guardian, August 17, 2012.
Ormsby, Avril. “Qatar investor buys UK department store Harrods.” Reuters, May 8, 2010.
Pipes, Daniel. “The Scandal of U.S.-Saudi Relations.” National Interest via Daniel Pipes Middle East Forum, Winter 2002/03. This piece is now about 10 years, a little more: it may be worth a look-see into how much has changed or not changed.
Reuters. “Dubai, Qatar hold key to LSE’s future: Holding 36.1% stake, the two emirates become the largest shareholders in London exchange.” Emirate 24/7, July 1, 2011.
Ridley, Kirstin and Steve Slater. “Barclays fights UK watchdog findings on Qatar deal.” Reuters, July 30, 2013. Excerpt:
Qatar Holding invested 5.3 billion pounds ($8 billion) in Barclays in June and October 2008, helping it avoid a government bailout and associated stringent re-payment terms and conditions imposed on bailed-out rivals Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland.
Smith, James B. “US-Saudi relations: Eighty years as partners.” Arab News, August 16, 2013.
Thesing, Gabi. “Sainbury Reports 3.6% Increase in Fourth-Quarter Sales.” Bloomberg, March 19, 2013:
Sainsbury rose to 376.4 pence, the highest since March 4, 2011, and was up 2.2 percent at 373.2 pence as of 10:10 a.m.
The shares have gained 23 percent in the past year. Speculation of a bid by Sainsbury’s largest individual shareholder, the Qatar Investment Authority, for Marks & Spencer Group Plc (MKS), may revive takeover speculation for Sainsbury and boost the stock further, according to Exane’s Gwynn.
Waldie, Paul. “From the Shard to Heathrow, Qatar stakes a claim on London.” The Globe and Mail, March 11, 2013.
# # #