August 29, 2019 Special Dispatch No. 8251

Al-Jazeera Host Faisal Al-Qassem In Qatari Dailies: U.S. Policy Serves Iranian Interests At Expense Of Region's Countries

August 29, 2019
Iran, Qatar | Special Dispatch No. 8251

In two articles he published recently in Qatari dailies, Faisal Al-Qassem, a host on the Qatari Al-Jazeera network, harshly attacked the U.S. policy on Iran, which he said serves Iranian interests at the expense of the Gulf countries and Turkey. In the first article, published in the Al-Sharq and Al-Quds Al-Arabi dailies, he wrote that U.S. President Donald Trump's passivity in the face of Iran's recent aggression – i.e., the attacks on oil tankers and downing of a U.S. drone – is part of an American-Iranian game aimed at blackmailing the Gulf countries into paying America for securing the oil shipping lanes. He even hinted that the U.S. itself may be behind some of the attacks on vessels in the Gulf, with the aim of blackmailing not only the Gulf countries but the entire world. In the second article, published in the same papers one week later, Al-Qassem, who is of Syrian origin and opposes Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, accused the West, and especially the U.S., of encouraging the expansion of Shi'ite Iran in the region and particularly in Syria, in order to create a new Middle East in which Iran is the leading player.

The following are excerpts from the two articles:

Faisal Al-Qassem (Source:

Trump Refrained From Responding To The Iranian Attacks Because He Wants Countries To Pay For U.S. Protection

In the first article Al-Qassem wrote: "What's happening in the Gulf? The U.S. suddenly appears – or more accurately pretends – to be incapable of protecting the oil shipping lanes and to lack the power or ability to confront Iran's threats. After UAE tankers were attacked off the Al-Fujairah [coast], people expected the U.S. to adopt an iron-fist policy vis-à-vis Iran. But instead of acting against Iran, which [even] hinted that it was behind the attacks, the U.S. remained silent and sufficed with investigating the incident. Since when does the American cowboy remain silent in the face of threats to the life-blood of the global and American economy, namely oil?...

"Several days later, two Japanese oil tankers were directly attacked in the Gulf of Oman, and the U.S. confirmed that its satellites and navy... had documented Iranian boats attacking both vessels. Some people then thought... that this time the U.S. would teach Iran a lesson. But the U.S. again made do with [voicing] vague threats against Iran, while doing nothing. The most absurd thing is that Iran... took a further step this time and downed state-of-the art American drones [sic., refers to the June 20 downing of a U.S. drone], whose value is estimated at $200 million. What did the U.S. do? Its president [Donald Trump] tried to downplay the incident by suggesting that [Iran] may have downed the aircraft by mistake. But Iran embarrassed Trump by proudly declaring that it had done so deliberately...

"Has the U.S. become weak, incapable of confronting the Iranian bullying in the Gulf and the threat to the global oil-shipping lanes?... It did not take long for the picture to become clear, when the American president declared that the U.S. is not responsible for the security of ships in international waters and that countries must defend their own ships. After [Iran] seized the British vessel... Trump said: 'We are unwilling to defend the ships of rich countries like China, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their like'[1]... Do we need any further proof after the disgraceful American statements? Is the U.S. unable to put an end to Iran's [actions] in the Gulf, or are the Americans and Iranians playing a game together, threatening global shipping in order to blackmail other countries into paying the U.S. to keep their vessels safe from attack?

"Since he came to power, Trump has been very clear about expecting [payment] for any defense provided by his country to other countries around the world. We have heard him time and time again blackmailing the Gulf [states] into paying for protection. How many times has Trump remarked that Saudi Arabia is very rich and ought to pay? Now he is playing the same game with the other countries of the Gulf and the world by means of the threat to the oil-shipping lanes.

"Do you believe that the U.S. has [really] succumbed to Iran's threats and attacks on ships, and is unable to respond to them? Of course not! The compromising and appeasing American position reveals that this is a game played by Iran for America's benefit. Unless the U.S. itself is behind some of the attacks on international shipping in the Gulf, as part of [an effort] to blackmail not only the Gulf but the entire world."[2]

The U.S. And The West Prevent The Syrian Opposition And Its Allies From Obtaining Weapons, Thus Enabling An Iranian Victory

In his second article, in the same two Qatari dailies, Al-Qassem referred to the Iranian presence in Syria and claimed that the Iranian expansion in the area was encouraged by the U.S. He wrote: "The U.S. determination to drive Iran out of Syria has suddenly evaporated. U.S. envoy to Syria [James Jeffrey] said that the Syrian government alone will decide whether the Iranian forces will remain [in Syria] or leave it...[3] We never [really] believed that Iran had infiltrated the entire region despite the American veto. On the contrary, Iran surely did this with America's blessing and encouragement... The common claim that the West supports the Sunni Muslims in the Middle East whereas Russia, China and the other [members of the] BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] group support the Shi'ites, namely Iran and its allies, is far from true. On the contrary. There is a kind of consensus among the Western and Eastern countries about strengthening Iran and supporting it at the expense of the other players in the region... If we look at the Iranian expansion in the Middle East, at the expense of Turkey and the Arabs, we will discover that it is obvious. For example, if we examine the Iranian influence in Iraq, in comparison to the Turkish and Arab influence, we will find that Iran has pulled the rug out from under many players in this vital part of the region... Even in Afghanistan, where the Americans made an alliance with the Sunni Arabs in order to liberate it from the Soviets, Iran has gained more influence than many other relevant forces...

"A new Middle East is taking shape before our very eyes, in which Iran plays a leading role while many Arabs and non-Arabs remain unaware of what is happening, unbeknownst to them, under the surface. And let's not forget Lebanon, of course, where Iran [maintains] far greater influence than the Arabs and Muslims by means of its military wing, Hizbullah... [And] if we look at the Iranian influence in Syria, we find that by now it far exceeds the Turkish and Arab influence, and this is clearly with the blessing of the West... [The West] has clearly green-lighted an Iranian victory in Syria, at the expense of others... What do we realize when we see the Syrian regime receiving weapons from every direction, while the U.S. and the West generally prevent the opposition [in Syria] from obtaining weapons? Doesn't this mean [that the West] is actively allowing Iran and its allies to gain a victory in Syria, at the expense of the forces that support the opposition, like Turkey and the Arabs?

"The one who allowed Iran to take over Iraq [i.e., the U.S.] will not conceivably let Iran be defeated in Syria. In other words, allowing Iran to take control of Iraq was only the opening [move], which allowed it to expand further and further [in the region]...

"It seems that, recently, the UAE finally understood [the rules of] the game, after realizing that America will not possibly protect it from Iran. That's why it withdrew its forces from Yemen and rushed to Tehran to seek the friendship of the Iranians and sign defense agreements with them.[4] The U.S., [the UAE's] purported ally, [is the one who] pushed it into the arms of Iran, and it will soon push others [in the same direction]." 

[1] This is apparently a paraphrase of remarks made by Trump at the July 23, 2019 Turning Point USA’s Teen Student Action Summit 2019: "A while ago, I said, 'Why are we policing for China? Very rich. For Japan? Very rich. For all these others?' And we’re policing also for countries, some of whom we're very friendly with, like Saudi Arabia and others – UAE, others too. But why are we doing it without getting – why do we have our ships there and we're putting our ships in the site?" (, July 23, 2019).

[2] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), July 27, 2019; Al-Sharq (Qatar), July 28, 2019.

[3] In an August 1, 2019, briefing, Jeffrey said, in response to a question, that, following the resolution of the Syrian conflict, the elected Syrian government would be responsible for getting the foreign forces, including the Iranians, out of its territory (, August 1, 2019).

[4] On July 30, 2019, a delegation of the UAE Coast Guard arrived in Tehran to meet with Iranian counterparts and discuss maritime and border cooperation. Several days later a similar delegation from Qatar arrived in Iran (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, July 31, 2019; Al-Akhbar, Lebanon, August 5, 2019).

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