March 28, 2024 MEMRI Daily Brief No. 586

'The Real Problem With Having The Americans As Your Allies Is You Never Know When They Will Turn Around And Stab Themselves In The Back' – Turkish General Quoted By Bernard Lewis*

March 28, 2024 | By Yigal Carmon*
Qatar, Palestinians | MEMRI Daily Brief No. 586

Unlike the decision to hand over the funding and administration of the Gaza port initiative to Qatar (which is Hamas) – a decision that carries operational and even strategic dangers – the U.S. abstention in the March 25 vote in the UN Security Council on the resolution for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza has a merely symbolic meaning.[1]

Indeed, the American officials stressed the point that the vote is only symbolic, since it does not mention sanctions and the U.S. does not condition its continued military support to Israel on Israel's agreement to a ceasefire or the cancellation of its imminent military operation in Rafah.

This American argument is further strengthened by the massive U.S. military support to Israel, which has been continuing for nearly six months, including with the possibility of escalation in the north. Israel should be, and is, most grateful to President Biden himself, and to his administration, for standing by it on the ground in its biggest challenge in decades.

However, this resolution, coming on the heels of the U.S.'s decision regarding the Gaza port, is more than symbolic in meaning – not necessarily for Israel alone, but just as much for the U.S. itself and its standing in the world.

A few days earlier, Russia and China (as well as Algeria, the sole Arab League member currently part of the UNSC) had voted against a U.S.-proposed draft resolution in the UNSC, even though it was supposedly damaging to their ally Hamas. But the Russians and Chinese saw this resolution, and their veto of it, as part of larger global battle against the U.S., more important than the local one in Gaza local one. They did not hesitate to veto a ceasefire resolution that could have benefited their ally Hamas.

The U.S. administration, on the other hand, failed to consider the global context, and did not veto the Russian-Chinese proposed resolution. Its abstention benefited Hamas, a designated terrorist organization that killed 32 Americans on October 7 and still holds six Americans hostage.[2]

The U.S. abstention did not damage Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu politically. He might even get some internal political mileage out of it. But it damages America. The administration did not even consider the resolution's omission of condemnation of Hamas. It let it pass, with no condemnation of an organization that is designated terrorist by the U.S. and the E.U.

The most feckless argument regarding the resolution is that the ceasefire was demanded in connection with Ramadan. For Islamists, Ramadan is not a month of peace but rather the month of jihad and martyrdom. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh explained: "Anyone who studies the history of Islam discovers that most of the great victories and decisive battles took place in the blessed month of Ramadan – beginning with the Battle of Badr, followed by the conquest of Mecca, the Battle of Hittin, the Battle of Ein Jalut, the conquest of Andalusia, and the 1973 war. Many of the battles. Even the mujahideen in Palestine – Allah has granted them success in the holy month of Ramadhan, crushing their enemy, thus pleasing the hearts of the believers. This happened in the heroic jihadi operations which took place in the West Bank yesterday and the day before yesterday. These are some of the victories of Ramadhan."

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Ramadan is the month in which, according to Hamas and all other Islamist terrorist organizations, Allah grants victory to his believers. The biggest battles in Islam took place during it, including the one most painful to Israel – the 1973 Yom Kippur War, which the Arab world called the War of Ramadan.

It is this false claim that the U.S. administration agreed to let pass, as Israeli soldiers are killed and wounded by Hamas, that is fighting every day of the month of Ramadan – just as U.S. forces were killed and wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq throughout every Ramadan.

The administration seems to believe that the U.S. abstention may help President Biden in the upcoming presidential election. But will it help the U.S. in the region? What will the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority take away from it? Not that America acted according to its values, to consider first and foremost the tragic situation. No, what they will take away from this is simply that America is weak and easily fooled, and is incapable of standing by its ally Israel, particularly in advance of an American presidential election.

The anti-U.S. elements in the region – Iran and its proxies across the Middle East – will understand that now is the best time for them to ratchet up their military efforts to oust U.S. military bases from the entire Middle East. Russia will understand that now is the time to escalate its fighting in the Ukraine, and China will find that now is the time for it to make its moves against Taiwan and the Philippines regarding the South China Sea. All of America's adversaries are now seeing growing opportunities to advance their own agendas.

Instead of calming down the U.S.'s enemies in the region and internationally, the U.S. abstention will fuel their activity – just before the election.

So whose fault will this be? President Biden's alone, for not totally and comprehensively standing by Israel? The answer is no. Clearly, it is also Prime Minister Netanyahu's fault, as I have explained in a previous report (A Small Step For President Biden In Gaza, A Big Step Towards Total War).

Netanyahu did not provide President Biden with the political cover he desperately needed in order to sustain his full support for Israel despite the huge human toll in civilian casualties in Gaza. Neither did he give President Biden a way to say that all these civilian casualties are for a sacred goal – a peaceful solution for the day after.[3]

In these two American moves – its granting of support to Qatar/Hamas, and its abstention in the UNSC – the Biden administration is of course complicit. But it is imperative to go back to the original sin. It was Netanyahu's sin.

The entire current war is the result of the flow of billions of Qatari dollars into Hamas-ruled Gaza, enabling Hamas to build its military terrorist empire. It was Netanyahu who allowed this funding, and facilitated its transfer from Qatar to the Gaza Strip. The Mossad managed the operation, in contravention of all Israeli and international laws of fighting terrorism. Netanyahu sought to "buy" calm in Gaza with Qatari money – and instead funded war.

When the Qataris are accused, in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, of building Hamas and enabling its October 7 attack, they immediately respond that this funding was approved by Israel. Qatari officials also say that their entire relationship with Hamas exists because the Americans asked them to maintain open lines of communication with the terror organization.

Even assuming their claim is true, the question still stands: Did Qatar just maintain open communication with Hamas? Apparently not. It was establishing Hamas headquarters in Doha.[4]

Qatar might also have been asked to maintain open communication with the Taliban. But what it actually did was to sustain this terrorist organization for years, up to the day it took over Afghanistan from a democratically elected secular government. That day, 13 Americans were killed by ISIS, active in the country under Taliban protection. The Taliban too were given headquarters in Doha.

Indeed, the flow of billions of dollars from Qatar to Hamas-ruled Gaza was not only the fault of Netanyahu, but of the entire Israeli defense establishment, that joined Netanyahu in this fateful policy.

Concerned about the mounting attacks on them in the U.S. Congress, the Qataris hastened to defend themselves, with an apparent leak of documents showing high-level Israeli officials thanking them for the funds that they sent to Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Just look at what Mossad director and close Netanyahu ally Yossi Cohen wrote to the Qatari emir in a letter in 2020: "This aid has undoubtedly played a fundamental role in achieving the continued improvement of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and ensuring stability and security in the region." Stability and security, hah!

In 2021, Ronen Levy, then the director of the Middle East, Africa and Special Liaisons Division in Israel's National Security Council, wrote to Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Aal Thani: "We reiterate the importance of continuing to transfer the Qatari humanitarian financial assistance through the existing mechanism, i.e. the ambassador [Mohammad] Al-Emadi [head of] the Qatar Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, in order to maintain the aforementioned... achievements." He added: "We greatly appreciate your cooperation and open discourse to safeguard stability and security in the region and to bring our countries and peoples closer together."[5]

A mere four months before the October 7 massacre, Gen. Ghassan Alian, director of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) wrote to Qatari envoy Mohammad Al-Emadi about Israel's approval of the gas project in Gaza: "We are at your disposal and will continue accompanying the implementation of this project."

Moreover, IDF Chief of General Staff Herzi Halevi, when he was commander of the Southern Command in 2020, joined the Mossad director in a visit to Qatar to ask the Qatari government for more funds for Hamas-ruled Gaza – funds which ended up in the hands of the killers of his soldiers.

How could they all do this? They could not, of course have gone against official government policy, but they could have resigned if they thought that this posed a threat to Israel's security. Money for Hamas-ruled Gaza was not a minor issue that they could somehow have swallowed even if they opposed it. It was a major issue that they should have strongly spoken out against, had they truly opposed it.

This cost Israel 1,200 dead on October 7, and hundreds more in the days, weeks, and months that followed. It continues to this very day, because what is happening in Gaza is not genocide, but a war against Hamas operatives.

This original sin of Netanyahu and the defense establishment cannot be forgiven. Neither can the continued captivity of the hostages, who are being tortured, raped, and murdered.

Are Israel and the U.S. equally responsible for the Gaza war? Perhaps. But the U.S. is still the unipolar superpower, and expected to lead the free world, not fooled by the tricks of the world's most important sponsor of Islamist terrorism, and Iranian ally – Qatar.

Netanyahu is evidently a failed leader. But we all expected the president of the United States of America to again display the leadership he showed on October 10. Tragically, in handing the Gaza port initiative over to Qatar and Hamas, and abstaining in the vote on the UNSC resolution, he did not.

At the end of the day, the U.S. remains a problem for all those seeking to ally with it – because, in the words of that Turkish general, you never know when the Americans will turn around and stab themselves in the back.

* Lewis quoted the general in his 2012 book Notes on a Century: Reflections of a Middle East Historian.

** Yigal Carmon is Founder and President of MEMRI.


[1] With this decision to abstain instead of vetoing, President Biden surrendered the population in Gaza to Hamas rule. In 2021, he similarly sacrificed the democratically elected secular Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the Afghan people to the Taliban, to the detriment of America's security and standing in the world.

[2] The administration apparently does not consider them enough of a priority to demand their release before anything else.

[3] Indeed, the Hamas Health Ministry is the source of all the casualty numbers, and they are proven to have no basis in reality. Nevertheless, these are the numbers repeatedly provided by media internationally – and Israel never refutes them. See, March 6, 2024;, March 26, 2024.

[4] Qatar even went so far as to train Hamas operatives. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 11111, Officers Of Hamas Security Apparatuses Trained In Qatar, February 1, 2024.

[5] At that very time, in an interview with the kibbutz movement magazine Zman Yarok published May 24, 2021, I termed this transfer of funds "The Bloody Wedding of Bibi and Qatar."

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