July 22, 2008 Special Dispatch No. 1996

Editor of Egyptian Daily: Qatar Is a Trojan Horse that Harms Arab Interests

July 22, 2008
Egypt, Qatar, The Gulf | Special Dispatch No. 1996

In an article in the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriya, Muhammad 'Ali Ibrahim, Egyptian MP and the paper's editor, accused Qatar of brazenly criticizing Egypt while itself causing the most damage to Arab interests, and of not lifting a finger to promote unity within the Arab world. Ibrahim's article came in response to an article in the Qatari daily Al-Sharq,[1] in which columnist Fawaz Al-'Ajami criticized the Arab countries, especially Egypt, for their eagerness to respond to invitations from European countries, e.g. to participate in the establishment of the Mediterranean Union, instead of tending to Arab interests.

Following are excerpts from Ibrahim's article:

"Qatar is the Largest U.S. Military Base, With the Exception of NATO Member Countries"

"Last night, an article appeared in the Qatari daily Al-Sharq, authored by one Fawaz Al-'Ajami. Al-'Ajami condemns the Arab leaders for their eagerness to respond to invitations extended by foreign leaders, who seek to promote their own and their allies' interests – France's invitation to the Mediterranean Union is a case in point. [Al-'Ajami] claims that France hopes to achieve economic development by opening up markets in the Arab countries – 'they export [goods], while we [i.e. the Arab countries] import [them].'

"The columnist points out that instead of helping to promote foreign interests, the Arabs should demand [the establishment of] a union to deal with their own issues, such as Palestine, the Golan Heights, Sudan, Ethiopia-occupied Somalia, and the independence of Lebanon. While stressing the urgency of [establishing] an Arab union, brother Fawaz Al-'Ajami forgets that his own country – Qatar – is doing the least for the Arabs, and there are numerous examples to that effect. Qatar is the largest U.S. military base, with the exception of NATO member countries. The Al-'Udaid air base [in Qatar] is [a source of] power for the U.S. army in the Gulf, providing the American occupying forces in Iraq with air cover and logistical aid."

Qatar "Serves As a Home Base For Al-Jazeera – The Most Notorious of All Arab Media Outlets for Sowing Strife and Creating Conflict Among Arab Countries"

"The Qatari paper Al-Sharq is trying to promote an Arab union, forgetting that [the paper itself] comes out in a country which serves as a home base for Al-Jazeera – the most notorious of all Arab media outlets for sowing strife and creating conflict among Arab countries, which not only brings civil war, but rubs salt into wounds, and distorts history. At present, not a single [Al-Jazeera report] dare criticize Qatar's history, its secret ties and accounts, its political arrests, or its connections with foreign [elements].

"I cannot understand Fawaz Al-'Ajami's insulting insinuations [published in] the Qatari [daily] Al-Sharq – unless he wanted to hint that Egypt and France are jointly heading the Mediterranean Union, which comprises 27 European and 12 Arab countries, and is the largest regional union to date…"

"Today, Doha is a Trojan Horse Through Which Israel is Infiltrating the Arab World"

"I suggest that brother Fawaz Al-'Ajami refrain from playing unifier of the Arab people and brandishing the sword of Salah Al-Din. As I have already mentioned, Qatar is causing the Arab interests the greatest harm – for in addition to [being home to] an enormous U.S. military base, Doha has given Israel access to its own and the Gulf states' markets, by [granting it] numerous commercial permits in compensation for the [absence of] official diplomatic relations between it and Tel Aviv. Both countries have profited a great deal [from the trade cooperation] – much more than they would have benefited from official relations. Not to mention the Qatari prime minister's summer homes in Tel Aviv and Naharia.

"Today, Doha is a Trojan horse through which Israel is infiltrating the Arab world. However, the matter does not end [there, i.e.] with Israel, for Qatar has [also] built bridges into Iran, and invited [Iranian] President Ahmadinejad to the last Gulf summit, [thereby] including a non-Arab country in a union of Arab countries. Qatar has also built bridges into the U.S., by allocating it costly land in its territory, for the American army to [use as] a home base to threaten the Arabs with the invasion of their lands. [Qatar] was the one to open avenues for economic, scientific, and professional cooperation with Israel. It also incorporated the Persians into the Arab Gulf framework and agreed to call the Arab Gulf 'the Persian Gulf.' All that considered, is it fitting that [Qatar] should be advocating a union to promote Arab interests?!

"If Qatar believes that the Doha agreement, via which it managed to convince the Lebanese to elect a president of their republic, would buy it the right to lead the Arab world and to provide it with counsel and guidance – let us remind it that even if the Doha agreement did manage to convince the Lebanese to elect a president, Lebanon still lacks a government…

"It seems that Qatar will have to come up with a Doha Agreement No. 2, so that the Lebanese will be able to return to normal life, with a president, a government, and an elected parliament. If Qatar is planning to arrange a second Doha agreement in hope of forming the Lebanese government, we trust that the story will end there and then. That is, unless Qatar believes that the proliferation of agreements [will give it an opportunity to stage] 'a media show' and present itself as a leader of the Arab world, notwithstanding the costs – whether in money or in gifts [to the participants in the conference]."

"Real Countries Find Their Proper Place Neither Through Satellite Channels, Nor Through [Bribed] Journalists, Nor Yet Through [Showering] Smiles On The World Media"

"For a country to fulfill its political role [it must adhere to] a number of principles. The most important of them are that decisions at the state level must be independent, and that the country must have full sovereignty over its territory. Until these criteria are met, a country must refrain from offering advice or guidance, from donning the garments of a preacher, and from using high language and bombastic, albeit empty, words.

"[Such] countries must be satisfied with a media show, since it demands nothing but a few million dollars. Real countries find their proper place neither through satellite channels, nor through [bribed] journalists, nor yet through [showering] smiles on the world media…"[2]

[1] Al-Sharq (Qatar), June 14, 2008.

[2] Al-Gumhouriya (Egypt), June 15, 2008.

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