Authored by Andrew Thornebrooke via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
A key U.S. ally in the Middle East is also one of the top financial and political backers of the Hamas terrorist organization. That relationship could now undermine the U.S.-Israel alliance and peace in the Middle East more broadly, according to one expert.
Qatar provides financial and diplomatic support to numerous terrorist groups and state sponsors of terror, including Hamas and Iran.
Now, the authoritarian nation is assisting the Hamas terrorist organization to maintain its control over the Gaza Strip, according to Asher Fredman, director for Israel at the Abraham Accords Peace Institute think tank.
“Qatar is a key supporter of Hamas, housing Hamas offices and senior leaders in Doha, and providing Hamas with funds that enable it to maintain its control over Gaza,” Mr. Asher told The Epoch Times.
Mr. Asher added that while Iran is Hamas’s primary patron for military support and training, Qatar is its go-to for spreading anti-Israel propaganda. This work, he said, is primarily done through Al Jazeera, a media network funded by the Qatari government.
“Through the Al Jazeera network, Qatar spreads narratives that demonize and delegitimize Israel, and justify terrorism, thereby supporting Hamas in its efforts,” Mr. Asher said.
Qatar Shielding Terrorists
Qatar has shielded numerous key leaders of the Hamas over the decades.
Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s top political leader, currently lives a life of relative luxury in the Qatari capital of Doha. From there, he and several other members of Hamas reportedly publicly celebrated the mass murder, torture, and rape of Israeli civilians on Oct. 7.
Qatar’s authoritarian government has consistently refused to arrest or hold Hamas leadership accountable for its crimes.
Instead, in the aftermath of Hamas’s assault on Israel this month, Qatar offered to mediate between Israel and the terrorist organization.
Mr. Asher said the United States should, therefore, use its clout with Qatar to bring about the unconditional release of hostages taken by Hamas and bring the organization’s leadership to justice.
“No Hamas leader anywhere should be immune from Israel’s response,” Mr. Asher said.
“The U.S. should demand that Qatar use this leverage to bring about the unconditional release of the hostages, in line with international law. If Qatar refuses, the U.S. should absolutely reevaluate its alliance and the preferred status it gives to Qatar.”
Pulling Back From Qatar No Easy Task
Reevaluating its relationship with Qatar is no easy task for the United States.
The country is home to the United States’ largest military base in the Middle East and has long been a centerpiece in the nation’s regional strategy.
Moreover, the Biden administration has done more than previous governments to foster that relationship.
The Biden administration formally designated Qatar as a major non-NATO ally last year, for what President Joe Biden described as Qatari assistance during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and “maintaining stability in Gaza.”
“Qatar is a good friend and reliable and capable partner,” President Joe Biden said at the time.
Despite its efforts to prop up terrorist groups throughout the region, Mr. Asher said, Qatar’s influence is broadly understood for what it is throughout the Middle East.
As such, other regional powers were unlikely to grow warmer with either Qatar or the terrorist organizations it shelters.
“Arab leaders understand that Hamas, a radical ISIS-like terror group sponsored by Iran, is a threat to their vision of a peaceful and prosperous Middle East and an obstacle to Israel-Palestinian peace. Eliminating Hamas, therefore, is ultimately in their interest,” Mr. Asher said.
“The U.S. and all enlightened countries must put massive pressure on countries with leverage over Hamas—such as Qatar, Turkey, and Egypt—to demand that Hamas release its hostages immediately.”
The State Department declined to clarify the scope of the United States’ cooperation with Qatar during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
A State Department official instead referred The Epoch Times to a readout of the Oct. 7 meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Qatar’s prime minister and foreign minister. That readout said, “The two agreed to remain closely coordinated.”