Since the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the glamorous couple hasn’t put a foot wrong, and with the birth of their cute baby George and another on the way, they have cemented the popularity of the Royal Family. While it might seem churlish to dent this glow by uttering any word of criticism, I can’t help having some misgivings about the company the Royal Family keep. Take for instance their friendship with the Qatari royals.
The British press make light of this cosy relationship, preferring to reflect on the glitz and glamour, as in this headline:
“Philip, you old flirt! The Duke turns into Prince Charming as he meets the statuesque first lady of Qatar”
“He is a mere eight months shy of his 90th birthday. But when it comes to the art of flirting, there is little doubt Prince Philip can still put a younger man to shame.
Cheeky! Prince Philip casts a naughty glance at Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned as she greets his wife Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle
The Duke also appeared to pay her curvaceous figure an admiring glance as she entered a state banquet with her husband.
Towering majestically over our monarch Queen Elizabeth, 84, she arrived with Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the 58-year-old ruler of Qatar, who controls a territory that is only a fraction the size of the UK.
But his £1.5billion personal wealth is more than five times that of the Queen.
And he oversees a huge state investment fund that, incredibly, owns more of London than the Crown Estate.
The Emir has seven children with the Sheikha. His two other wives – who have given him 20 more children between them – are not attending the three-day visit.
A formal handshake between the Emir and the Queen was marked by a gun salute…before a carriage procession led by six horses took the party – including Prince Charles and Camilla – to the castle.
Some 160 guests attended a sumptuous banquet, including the two royal families, Mr. Cameron and his wife Samantha, and Sir David Frost.
But because the Emir is a tee-total Muslim, the toast was delivered with rose water instead of champagne.
The Queen presented her guests with presents, including signed photos of herself and Prince Philip.
In return, she received an 18-carat gold casket encrusted with diamonds, amethysts and pearls…
The Emir is worth L1.5 billion and oversees his country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, which has assets up to L63 billion. He owns Harrods, the Chelsea Barracks site, Barclays and Credit Suisee Banks, plus major supermarket chain, Sainsbury, to mention just some of his assets.
At the banquet, the Queen’s gushing speech included the words:
The State of Qatar and the United Kingdom, as well as our two families, have been in close touch with each other for a long time. I have vivid memories of my visit to Qatar in 1979 when, together, we opened the Doha English Speaking School. My two sons, Charles and Andrew, have come to know Qatar well, and they have described to me how impressed they are by the massive developments taking place throughout the State…. I am delighted that so many British companies have been involved in this enterprise, some of whom are represented here tonight.
Social and economic progress need a well educated population…Over the last forty years, we have welcomed many young Qataris to study in this country…. I am also pleased to know that many British schools, universities and other educational institutions have been welcomed in Qatar, including University College London, which will soon establish a campus in Doha. Cultural and sporting ties also are thriving, with new links being developed between British institutions and Qatar including the British Library, Tate, the Royal Society and our respective Olympic Committees. And in April this year we were glad that Sheikha Mozah came here to Windsor Castle for the inauguration of the new joint venture between the Qatar Foundation and Bloomsbury Publishing.
It is a pleasure to have this opportunity to pay tribute to the efforts by you and the Government of Qatar to help resolve regional conflicts in Lebanon, Darfur and Yemen. You have a particular ability to bring people together to reach consensus on difficult issues.
I am delighted to know that you will be visiting the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. As you will recollect, the motto of the Academy is ‘Serve to Lead’. I believe that these words fittingly describe your own approach to the responsibilities of leadership; the promotion of peace, the encouragement of education and culture, and your far-sighted and enlightened plans for the future of your country as an open and tolerant society.
It’s ironic that the Queen talks about Qatar’spromotion of peace, and alarming to realize just how deep are the ties between the British Establishment and Qatar. So why should we be alarmed? Well, last week the UK Telegraph reported that ministers were warned to cut business ties to Qatar over Islamic State:
Qatar, which has multi-billion-pound business interests in the UK, is now the focus of growing disquiet over its links to the financing of jihadists fighting for both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
A US Treasury blacklist of designated terrorists identifies at least seven extremists with connections to Qatar, but the UK Treasury’s list contains just one.
Qatar has enjoyed close ties with Britain in recent years and invested – through its sovereign wealth fund – billions of pounds during the recession, buying up landmark businesses and stakes in major companies. MPs are now demanding Britain gets tough with Qatar and other Gulf states, such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and questioning why the British terrorist list has identified fewer fund-raisers.
Mike Freer, the Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, said: “The glaring difference between the numbers of people on the list in the UK compared to the US does raise questions as to whether we are not as rigorous as the Americans – or else are we being blinded by commercial interests?”
Stephen Barclay, the Conservative MP for North East Cambridgeshire, said: “There is growing concern across parties in Parliament as to why there appears to be so little evidence of action by Qatar and other Sunni Gulf allies against their own nationals who have directly funded – or facilitated the funding of – terrorist groups, including Isil.”
Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, called for a rethink of Britain’s relationship with Qatar.
“Here in the UK, we do big business with our ally Qatar, including in arms, and yet there are countless reports…of that country’s government actively courting key bankrollers of al-Qaeda and Isil.
“Its record of cooperating in counter-terrorism has, according to Hillary Clinton, been among the worst of any country.”
“If we are serious about countering groups like Isil, we need to fundamentally rethink the nature of our relationship with the countries that fuel them.”
Qatar, the world’s wealthiest nation per head of population, flatly denies it finances terrorists.
In recent weeks, a number of senior politicians and military figures have called for a review of Britain’s trading rules with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, including possible sanctions if fundraising is allowed to continue in those states.
In another article, The Terror-Funding Roads That Pass Through Qatar, Jyllands-Posten correspondents wrote:
The role of Qatar as a hub of terror financing is becoming more and more widely publicized as the Islamic State advances on Kobani and Baghdad.
Qatar is under growing international pressure because of millions of terror dollars allegedly being pumped into the Islamic State and other radical Islamist movements from offices in the wealthy emiraet…. Huge amounts from generous supporters and ransom laundered by the small oil state are channeled, disguised as humanitarian charity, to terrorist movements such as Islamic State, without the regime in Doha dealing effectively with the problem, say Western leaders and analysts. And according to a report from the Danish Treasury Department, some of the 100 Danes with the Islamic State got help from an extremist who is funded from Qatar.
… the regime in Doha is officially supporting the coalition against the Islamic State, and the United States has an important air base in the country. But at the same time the Qatar government ignores traffickers who use Qatar to launder terrorist money. Critics argue that the regime in Qatar could easily stop the flow of money, if they wanted to.
According to the Americans and the British, money from Qatar is not only going to Islamic State, but also to an al-Qaeda branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in Gaza…
The Institute for Contemporary Affairs similarly reported:
- Qatar is unquestionably engaged in international terrorist financing. According to the U.S. Treasury’s division for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, “Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas.”
- Qatar aids Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Jabhat al Nusra, al-Qaeda affiliates, Libyan Islamists, and even ISIS.
- The key Qatari link to the Muslim Brotherhood has been Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who broadcasts on Qatar’s al Jazeera. In 2002, his foundation was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
During Operation Protective Edge, there was one striking news report in the pan-Arab daily, al-Hayat, claiming that the Qatari government threatened to evict the head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, in the event that his organization accepted the latest Egyptian proposal for a cease fire.
In addition, Qatar provided a base from which Khaled Mashaal could run Hamas operations. But now it had become clear that Qatar was not only providing a convenient sanctuary for the most hard-line part of the Hamas leadership, but it also took an active part in seeing that Mashaal maintained this position. Rather than help resolve the conflict, it appeared that Qatar wanted to prolong and even exacerbate it.
…Qatar’s outreach to Islamist movements has been extensive. The most important Islamist connection for Qatar is the Muslim Brotherhood…The key player in the Qatari link has been Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. the most important spiritual authority in the international Muslim Brotherhood movement…including its Palestinian branch, Hamas. Through his fatwas, he supported Hamas suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians…
…Qatar used its ownership of the al-Jazeera satellite network to promote the Muslim Brotherhood and to attack and even undermine Arab regimes…Qaradawi was given a regular television program on al-Jazeera which he used to promote Muslim Brotherhood ideology and reach tens of millions of Sunni Muslims. This September, al-Jazeera appeared to sympathize with ISIS when it ridiculed the beheadings of U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Satloff as a “Hollywood show” that was being used as a pretext for military intervention in Syria.
In 2012, the former Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani became the first head of state to visit the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. He pledged $400 million to Hamas. Support for Hamas continued even after Sheikh Hamad turned power over to his son Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on June 25, 2013. The commitment of Qatar to its Hamas ties was demonstrated in a statement made by Sheikh Tamim in a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas on August 21, 2014, which was leaked: “The U.S. and the Arabs are angry at us for hosting Hamas, but I say it is an honor for us”
Given this Qatari attitude, it should come as no surprise that the Emir is planning to resume his financial assistance to Hamas after Operation Protective Edge. … even before the war ended, Qatari fundraising foundations planned events for this very purpose. On August 8, the Qatari Red Crescent raised more than $10 million at an event at which a Hamas leader, Hussam Badran, appeared and spoke. In December 2013, Badran used his Twitter account to support bombing attacks in Tel Aviv…
There is growing awareness of the role of Qatar in terrorism. The amazing Sussex Friends of Israel and others recently held a protest against the regime:
Activists from Sussex Friends of Israel (SFI) and the new-formed Israel Forum Task Force (IFTF) donned orange jump suits reminiscent of those seen in execution videos posted by the “Islamic State” (IS) terrorist group, and read an open letter to Qatari leader Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani outside Qatar’s London embassy.
Qatar is the leading state sponsor of Hamas, the Islamist group which rules the Gaza Strip and whose charter calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and advocates murdering Jews as a holy duty.
“Together with Turkey, Qatar is the main financier of Hamas, the terrorist organisation responsible for launching nearly 4600 rocket attacks against Israeli civilians during the recent Gaza conflict,” activists said in a joint statement. “The Hamas covenant calls for the destruction of the State of Israel, the introduction of Sharia law and the creation of an Islamic State ‘from the Jordan River to the sea.’ Hamas also used Qatar funds for the construction of tens of tunnels, each one costing $3 million (£1.85 million) to build.”
“Qatar is also a safe haven for known terrorist leaders and for its support of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, an extremist organisation instrumental in ousting President Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring.
So maybe it’s time for the Queen – who is of course also Queen of Australia – to take a moral stand and return the Emir’s gift of an ”18-carat gold casket encrusted with diamonds, amethysts and pearls”. Otherwise she would bequeath a poisoned chalice to her descendants, including current Golden Couple Wills and Kate and the adorably cute Prince George.