Maan News Agency: Haniyeh meets renowned Egypt sheikh in Qatar

February 5, 2012

Media_httpwwwmaannews_joorj (Maan) GAZA CITY  – Influential Egyptian Muslim theologian Yususf al-Qaradawi on Friday stressed the necessity that the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip should be open completely.
During a meeting with the premier of the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh in Qatar, al-Qaradawi said, “It is unusual that closure of the Rafah crossing continues barring movement of people and goods.”
He added that the Gaza Strip expected support from the Arab and Islamic nations. Al-Qaradaqwi applauded the emir of Qatar, Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, for his support to Palestine and to Gaza.
“In light of what the triumphant revolutions in the Arab world achieved, I can assert that Palestine will achieve victory because Palestine is rightness and rightness always wins, while occupation is falseness and falseness will eventually vanish.”
For his part, Haniyeh applauded Qatar and Sheikh Al Thani for the support to Palestine and the Palestinian cause. He highlighted that the emir of Qatar responded positively to calls for reconstructing the war-torn Gaza Strip.

…denied correlative: the repressive and brutal totalitarian crackdown on the people of Qatar


Is Obama Preparing to Surrender Afghanistan?

December 31, 2011
Media_httpwwwshariahf_cpxak(Powerline) That is what Andrew McCarthy thinks. He notes the significance of President Obama’s recruiting Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi to mediate secret negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban:

The surrender is complete now. The Hindu reports that the Obama administration has turned to Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s leading jurist, to mediate secret negotiations between the United States and the Taliban. …
For those who may be unfamiliar with him, he is the most influential Sunni Islamist in the world, thanks to such ventures as his al-Jazeera TV program (Sharia and Life) and website (IslamOnline.net). In 2003, he issued a fatwa calling for the killing of American troops in Iraq. …
Qaradawi urges that Islam must dominate the world, under a global caliphate governed by sharia. He maintains that Islam “will conquer Europe [and] will conquer America.” …
Thus does Sheikh Qaradawi champion Hamas, mass-murder attacks, and suicide bombings. “They are not suicide operations,” he brays. “These are heroic martyrdom operations.” Indeed, he elaborates, “The martyr operations is [sic] the greatest of all sorts of jihad in the cause of Allah.”

You get the drift. So, what sort of deal is Qaradawi charge with negotiating?

After thousands of young Americans have laid down their lives to protect the United States from jihadist terror, President Obama apparently seeks to end the war by asking Qaradawi, a jihad-stoking enemy of the United States, to help him strike a deal that will install our Taliban enemies as part of the sharia state we have been building in Afghanistan. If the Hindu report is accurate, the price tag will include the release of Taliban prisoners from Gitmo — an element of the deal Reuters has also reported. The administration will also agree to the lifting of U.N. sanctions against the Taliban, and recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political party (yes, just like the Muslim Brotherhood!). In return, the Taliban will pretend to forswear violence, to sever ties with al-Qaeda, and to cooperate with the rival Karzai regime.
It would mark one of the most shameful chapters in American history.

Yes, it would. But the Afghanistan war is deeply unpopular, and Obama wants to run for re-election next November on the boast that he “ended two wars.” The baleful consequences of re-installing the Taliban in Afghanistan will not appear until long after the next election campaign, which is all that Obama cares about. So if the outcome foreseen by Hindu and McCarthy comes to pass, it will be shameful indeed.
UPDATE: This AP news story of just a few hours ago appears relevant:

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday welcomed remarks from the Obama administration saying that Taliban insurgents were not America’s enemies.
Earlier this month, Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview with Newsweek magazine that the Islamist militants did not represent a threat to U.S. interests unless they continued to shelter al-Qaida.
Biden’s comments came amid reports that the Obama administration and other governments are trying to establish a peace process with the Taliban to help end the 10-year war.
“I am very happy that the American government has announced that the Taliban are not their enemies,” Karzai said in a speech to the Afghan Academy of Sciences. “We hope that this message will help the Afghans reach peace and stability.”
A senior U.S. official has told The Associated Press that Washington plans to continue a series of secret meetings with Taliban representatives in Europe and the Persian Gulf region next year.
The U.S. outreach this year had progressed to the point that there was active discussion of two steps the Taliban seeks as precursors to negotiations, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Trust-building measures under discussion involve setting up a Taliban headquarters office and the release from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, of about five Afghan prisoners believed affiliated with the Taliban.

If we have to negotiate with the Taliban, couldn’t we appoint John Bolton to do it? But then, what point could such negotiations have other than to sugar-coat a surrender?


Qatar’s Sunni Side

October 27, 2011

(Crethi Plethi)How could Qatar’s foreign policy best be defined during the Arab Spring? In the midst of the conflict between Gaddafi’s forces and the rebels in the Libyan civil war, Qatar was hailed by Barack Obama in April for building a broad coalition of international support for the NATO campaign against Gaddafi. Obama also hailed the emir of Qatar for supposedly being a pragmatic mediator and negotiator in the wider region.Indeed, as the Guardian puts it, the country has a reputation for “a cautious but active foreign policy.” Other analysts have seen Qatar as a nation playing both sides in the Middle Eastern Cold War between the Saudi-led “status-quo bloc” and the Iranian-led “resistance” bloc.
For example, although Qatar has maintained good economic and diplomatic ties with Tehran, it has also hosted American military bases and CENTCOM, besides having limited trade relations with Israel.
However, I prefer to advance the following thesis: Qatar’s foreign policy at present is based on the principle of promoting Sunni interests, and where possible, the interests of Sunni Islamists.
For instance, recently the country has come under criticism from some Western diplomats and the National Transitional Council (NTC) for its role in Libya. As the Wall Street Journal notes, Qatari aid has circumvented the NTC, and has been provided to independent rebel militias dominated by Islamist commanders.
Two individuals particularly favored by Qatar are the Islamist leader of the Tripoli Military Council — Abdul-Aziz Belhaj, who is generally not trusted by rebels in and around Misrata, and Sheikh Ali Sallabi, a Libyan cleric currently living in Qatar’s capital and with close ties to Belhaj. Tensions have emerged between Sallabi and Mahmoud Jabril, the interim prime minister for the NTC described as a “tyrant in waiting” and part of a group of “extreme secularists” by Sallabi.
Meanwhile, when it came to the Syrian uprising, in which the Sunni Islamist Muslim Brotherhood could well be playing a prominent role in the opposition to the Alawite-dominated government, Qatar quickly transformed from an ally into a harsh critic of Assad’s regime. Al-Jazeera’s Arabic channel rapidly expanded its coverage of protests in Syria, and Yousef al-Qaradhawi, host of al-Jazeera’s “Shari’a and Life” show, called for the Baathist regime to be removed from power.
The cleric criticized Assad as someone “held prisoner by his entourage and the [Alawite] sect.” Al-Jazeera, it should be noted, is owned by a member of the Qatari ruling dynasty, and its Arabic channel is certainly aligned with Qatar’s foreign policy agenda, intended for Middle Eastern audiences and very different from the English version that is aimed at international viewers outside the region.
The latter’s remarks particularly annoyed the Syrian government, leading to a suspension of ties between Syria and Qatar as Assad reportedly told the Qatari emir’s emissary that al-Qaradhawi must apologize for his statements if there are going to be friendly relations again.
And so it is that al-Jazeera’s Arabic channel has been more than happy to provide coverage of demonstrations in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen, all of which are places where Sunni Islamists can be empowered (the Muslim Brotherhood, the Ennahda party, and the Islah party respectively). Yet al-Jazeera’s Arabic channel generally ignores the unrest in Bahrain and eastern Saudi Arabia, both with Shi’a majorities protesting against Sunni rule.
Bahrain is a country marked by Sunni minority rule at the cost of significant sectarian discrimination against the Shi’a majority. In fact, Qatar has even aided Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council in sending troops to assist the regime in quelling the protests.
As for eastern Saudi Arabia, a perusal of al-Jazeera’s Arabic news site reveals no coverage of protests there. As Asad Abu Khalil of “The Angry Arab News Service” correctly notes (for once), “to verify what is going on in Saudi Arabia, al-Jazeera asked its famous witness, Abu Muhammad in Idlib, if he saw protests from his window. Abu Muhammad said that he couldn’t see anything and al-Jazeera accordingly reported that all is well in the kingdom.”
Finally, in keeping with Qatar’s warm ties with Turkey under the Islamist AKP, al-Jazeera’s Arabic channel has tended to provide uncritical coverage of the prime minister Erdoğan’s efforts to bolster his image as a friend and helping hand for the Arab world, while not mentioning the water crises Turkey’s dam projects in Anatolia have helped to trigger in Iraq and Syria. To be sure, the policy predates the AKP government’s accession to power in 2002, but has only expanded and accelerated under Erdoğan.
Unfortunately, there has been a far too widespread tendency, both in the media and in policy circles, to see Qatar either as a moderate Western ally in the ongoing unrest as part of the Arab Spring, or somehow as an advocate for liberal democracy and reform in the Middle East and North Africa. Rather, its true Sunni sectarian and pro-Islamist agenda needs to be recognized.
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a student at Brasenose College, Oxford University, and an intern at the Middle East Forum.