January 16, 2024 MEMRI Daily Brief No. 563

Why Do The U.S. And Israel Tolerate Qatar's Blatant Anti-U.S. And Anti-Israel Policies?

January 16, 2024 | By Yigal Carmon*
Qatar | MEMRI Daily Brief No. 563


Two developments with dangerous and even explosive repercussions for the standing and interests of both the U.S. and Israel in the Middle East occurred in the last few days.

1. The U.S. has extended its presence at Qatar's Al-Udeid airbase – CENTCOM's main airbase in the region – for another 10 years[1]: In recent weeks, there has been criticism of Qatar for its sponsoring of terrorism, causing President Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to maintain ambiguity about the future of the U.S.-Qatar alliance. This follows years of frequent undeserved U.S. praise for Qatar.

The Qataris, realizing that their very existence is threatened if the U.S. relocates its CENTCOM operations to the UAE or Saudi Arabia, hastened to nail down the U.S. for another decade in Qatar. This happened despite Qatar's support of both Sunni and Shi'ite terrorist organizations worldwide, and despite its open alliance with Iran, including joint Qatari naval training with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).[2] And the fact that it is standing with the Houthis, with whom the U.S. is currently engaged in military conflict to ensure free passage of shipping in the Red Sea.

Without CENTCOM in Qatar, the ruling family will be unable to continue ruling Qatar. Yet it seems like the U.S.  did not demand that Qatar reverse its policies of sponsoring terrorism – let alone demand the release of American hostages held by its proxy Hamas in Gaza, after it killed 32 U.S. nationals on October 7. How can this inconceivable approach on the part of the Americans be explained?

2. Israel is allowing Qatar to take charge of all the humanitarian support entering the Gaza Strip, where it is hijacked by Hamas gunmen as soon as it crosses the border. In fact, Qatar is keeping Hamas fighters in power, enabling them to kill Israeli soldiers every day. This is being done with the total consent of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had, over the past decade, allowed Qatar to build Hamas's military power in the first place. Netanyahu is now actually allowing an ongoing process, by which his soldiers are being killed every day because he is a captive and hostage of Qatar, as well as its collaborator, and does not dare confront it lest it expose him. One solution to freeing the aid from Qatar's pro-Hamas influence would be by giving the money to Egypt and Jordan, who have peace agreements with Israel, so that they could fully control the humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, with no Qatari strings attached.

These approaches on the part of the U.S. and Israel are also prompting the natural allies of both, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to distance themselves from them and to join anti-U.S. alliances such as BRICS. How can these two mindboggling phenomena be explained?

This report will attempt to answer these questions.

Dr. Jekyll Qatar

Qatar presents itself as a Western-oriented regime engaged in primarily economic enterprises in the West, helping in peace mediation and conflict resolution worldwide, and as a seemingly Western ally hosting the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East, from which U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) protects American interests in the region. It initiated the opening of branches of American universities in Doha, and hosted the World Cup. It donates massively to American universities, supports cultural centers in Europe, and uses its media outlet in the West, Al-Jazeera TV in English – which is completely different from its Arabic-language channel – to present a positive picture of the Qatari regime to the West.

It also engages in criminal activity with politicians in Europe and the U.S. – for example, the "Qatargate" scandal, in which, in December 2022, the European parliament stripped Greek MEP Eva Kaili of her position as vice president of the assembly over accusations she accepted bribes from Qatar. In the course of the investigation, Belgian authorities found "bags of cash" in her home.[3] Also, earlier this month Sen. Bob Menendez, former Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, was federally indicted for allegations that he took bribes in exchange for an agreement to help the government of Qatar.[4] [5] (Qatar has also spied on U.S. politicians, as will be revealed very soon.)

Indeed, Qatar assisted in the efforts to secure deals for the release of some of the hostages in exchange for the release of terrorists held in Israeli prisons and for a pause in the fighting and provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza. In a more recent mediation efforts, Qatar was instrumental in bringing in medicine to the hostages, as well as to Hamas members.

(It is important to note that these deals, however, were minimal in scope, and benefited Hamas no less than Israel.)

The Role Of The Economic Dimension And Trade Policy In U.S.-Qatar Relations.

It is well known that Qatar invests hundreds of billions of dollars in the U.S. In discussing the impact of this money on U.S. policies, one has to consider the economic damage caused to the U.S. on the domestic and international level by Qatar's pro-terrorist policies. This economic damage may far exceed the advantage gained by the U.S. from Qatari investments in it.

The economic advantage versus damage will be discussed in a special MEMRI study.

Mr. Hyde Qatar

In the Arab and Muslim world, every person on the street is well aware of Qatar's Mr. Hyde face: that Qatar is the mega-promoter of Islamism and terrorism worldwide. The top political, military, and intelligence echelons in the West, however, turn a blind eye to this.[6]

Qatar's activities in the Arab and Muslim world are motivated by the extremist Wahhabi ideology.[7] This can be seen in a discussion between the former Qatari Emir and the late Libyan ruler Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi, in which the Emir boasted that he himself is an heir and grandchild of Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab (see  MEMRI TV clip Late Emir Of Qatar Hamad Bin Khalifa Says Imam Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab Was His Forefather, In Recorded Conversation With Libyan Dictator Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi.)

It is also noteworthy that the largest mosque in Doha is named for Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab.[8]

The Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab mosque in Doha (Source:, August 4, 2022).

The pillar of Islamist Wahhabism in Qatar was the former minister of religious endowment Abdullah bin Khalid Aal Thani, who later became minister of interior affairs – the second most important position after the Emir. It was Abdullah bin Khalid Aal Thani who brought Khaled Sheikh Mohammad (KSM), the future mastermind of 9/11, from jihadi missions in Bosnia to Qatar and gave him money and logistical support to organize terrorist attacks against American and other targets. It was Abdullah bin Khaled Aal Thani who was behind the coup carried out by Hamad bin Khalifa Aal Thani, father of the present Emir, against his own father, Khalifa bin Hamad Aal Thani.

On left: Abdullah bin Khaled Aal Thani

For two decades now, Qatar has supported all Islamist terrorist organizations, both Sunni and Shi'ite, as well as Islamist movements, primarily the Muslim Brotherhood.

The terrorist organizations supported by Qatar include Hamas, the Taliban, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, the Al-Nusra Front, Hizbullah, and even the Houthis, with whom the U.S. is currently engaged in a battle in the Red Sea.[9]

With regard to Al-Qaeda, it was Qatar who, in 1995, gave safe haven to KSM. Furthermore, when the FBI came to arrest him, informing only the Emir, KSM disappeared within hours.[10] Other Al-Qaeda attacks on American targets include the failed "Bojinka" plot to bomb 11 U.S. commercial planes, the attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.[11]

The murder of U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens in September 2012 in Benghazi was perpetrated by the Qatar-supported Al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar Al-Sharia. Another case of Qatari support for terrorism was the plot to assassinate Pope John Paul II in Manila in 1995; however, a fire broke out in the apartment a week before the assassination was to take place and the plot was discovered.[12] KSM, who orchestrated this attack, fled back to Qatar. 

With regard to Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham and the Al-Nusra Front, individuals linked to both are on trial in Europe and the U.S. on charges of belonging to these Qatar-supported terror organizations.

In addition to terrorist organizations, Qatar supports Islamist movements, with the goal of toppling secular authoritarian regimes and bringing Islamists to power. Examples include Egypt, where it succeeded in temporarily toppling the secular regime of Hosni Mubarak and bringing the Muslim Brotherhood to power.

In Syria too, Qatar supported the Islamist terrorist organizations in order to bring down the secular authoritarian regime of Bashar Al-Assad, and even financed a Druze revolt against Assad.[13]

In Libya, Qatar sided with the Islamists in Tripoli against the secular authoritarian Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi, even sending operatives from Hamas's military wing, the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, to support the Islamists.[14]

In Afghanistan, it nurtured the Taliban for years, culminating in the violent takeover of the regime from secular president Ashraf Ghani in August 2021, with 13 U.S. troop fatalities.

Qatar even supports the Islamist movement in northern Mali,[15] and in South Africa, former president Thabo Mbeki received Qatari support. He was part of the African Union effort to mediate in Sudan, and he sided with then-Muslim Brotherhood president of Sudan, Omar Al-Bashir.[16]

In Tunisia, Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood Ennahda party leader Rached Ghannouchi against secular authoritarian president Kais Saied.

The CENTCOM Base: Why Is It In Qatar? What Has The U.S. To Gain By Keeping It There?  What Has The U.S. To Lose If It Is Relocated To The UAE Or Saudi Arabia?

Qatar granted the U.S. the Al Udeid airbase in order to guarantee the survival of the Qatari ruling family. However, the Qatari regime does not reciprocate by endorsing anti-terrorism and anti-Iran policies. The U.S., in fact, has apparently not even made such a demand – or, if it did, it was ignored.

Could there be an alternative to the CENTCOM base in Doha? Yes. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia offered to host it, but the U.S. declined both offers.

American support for Qatar's regime is so strong that in 2017, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt announced a complete boycott of Qatar with the goal of toppling its terrorist-sponsoring regime, the U.S. saved the Aal Thani family.

Why does the U.S. hold Qatar's interests so dear? Strategic explanations do not suffice to answer this question; it can only be surmised that other interests may be in play.

Would the activities of the CENTCOM base be restricted in any way if the U.S. were to pressure Qatar to endorse anti-terrorist policies?

The answer is no. Even if CENTCOM remains in Qatar, and the U.S. pressures Qatar to embrace, against its will, a policy of anti-terrorism, the base is totally independent, and its activities would not be impacted in any way.

Why Does The Israeli Government Continue Its Years-Long Alliance With Qatar – A Terrorism-Sponsoring State And An Absolute Enemy That Built Hamas's Entire Military Power?

Israel, unlike the U.S., does not have even a shred of ostensible justification for its alliance with Qatar and through it, with Hamas. Israeli law prohibits any citizen from maintaining ties with a terrorist organization or its sponsors. Obviously, the prime minister is not exempt; he cannot simply make doing so into policy without proper legislation. Thus, by allowing – and even facilitating – the transfer of billions of dollars from Qatar to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Netanyahu was breaking the law.[17]

His claim that he allowed the transfer of Qatari money over the past decade in order to prevent a "humanitarian disaster" in Gaza is patently false. Prior to October 7, Gaza was in no "humanitarian disaster" – on the contrary, it was a mini-Dubai.[18]

Netanyahu blocked a move to shut down the activity of Al-Jazeera – the Qatari megaphone for Hamas, and before that, for bin Laden and Saddam Hussein – in Israel, because of the direct role the channel plays in aiding Hamas activities in the war. This was despite the fact that all Israeli security agencies recommended shutting it down, and the judicial advisor to the Israeli government had agreed to this as well.[19]

So why does Netanyahu continue to accept Qatar's anti-Israeli policies? The answer to this question is that Netanyahu does not dare to confront Qatar lest he be exposed for 10 years of collaboration with the Qatari regime and Hamas. He is, in effect, a captive, held hostage by Qatar, and thus has become a collaborator.[20]

How Can The American And Other Hostages Held In Gaza Be Saved?

The surest and fastest way to bring about the release of American and Israeli hostages held in Gaza is by massively pressuring Qatar, the way Israel is acting against Iran, rather than appealing to it. Once Qatar realizes that its own existence is at stake, it will exert maximum pressure on Hamas to release the hostages.

Indeed, the U.S. is likely to oppose the move of pressuring Qatar – even though it would bring about the release of its own citizens – but this is an existential issue for Israel, and in such matters Israel need not always follow American recommendations. This is not even mentioning the fact that Qatar is betraying the U.S. by not assuring the release of American hostages.

For Hamas, Qatar is its lifeline. It is the hope, the future, and the continuation of the fight to eradicate Israel and to kill all the Jews, as set out in its charter.[21] Once Hamas realizes that Qatar can no longer assist it, it will have no choice but to comply with Qatar's demands. Hamas has no friends or allies in the Arab and Muslim world, with the exception of Iran and its proxies.

Is There A "Way Out" And A "Day After"? – Yes

In the current situation, Israel is basically defeated. Why? Because when Israel scales down its activity in the Gaza Strip, Hamas will resurge, and the situation will be back to square one. Hamas is already returning to the northern Gaza Strip – and as things stand, when Israel withdraws, it will return in force.  

Even if Israel accepts the American requests to end the war, Hamas will not end its war, and will continue to fire missiles into Israel, and Israel will have to respond. That is the real future scenario. Moreover, once Israel withdraws completely from the Gaza Strip, and Hamas feels, perhaps justifiably, that it has won, all the anti-U.S. elements in the Middle East will launch efforts to expel the Americans from everywhere in the region.

That is why a unilateral Israeli ceasefire will lead to neither a "way out" nor to a "day after." That is why all the indications that President Biden is "running out of patience" with Israel[22] and pressuring it to stop will solve nothing, because Hamas (supported by Qatar and Iran) will not stop.[23] It may even extensively use weapons such as, advanced shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft missiles smuggled into Gaza via Rafah, which is not under Israel's control.

So Where Is The "Way Out" And What Is The "Day After"?

There is only one sure way to end the war with the defeat of Hamas, the freeing of the hostages, an end to the calamity of the Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the return of the Israeli refugees to their devastated homes in the Gaza border area where they cannot now live because of the lack of security, and the possibility of envisioning a Palestinian-Israeli peace. All these goals can be achieved only by removing Qatar from the picture, one way or another, and by preventing the Aal Thani family from wreaking havoc in the Arab and Muslim world, as well as in the West. This is also vital in order to prevent the war from expanding across the region.

* Yigal Carmon is President and Founder of MEMRI.



[2], September 25, 2002.



[5] In January 2019, Reuters uncovered information about Project Raven, a wide-ranging cyber offensive operation carried out by former NSA agents on behalf of the UAE. They gathered huge amounts of documents concerning several targets, including activists, journalists, and foreign government entities in a few countries, such as Turkey, France, Yemen, Iran, Qatar, Lebanon, and Israel. The leaked documents revealed extensive political interference by Qatar in the affairs in the Arab and Muslim world, with the goal of toppling secular regimes (as in Libya and Mali),[1] as well as strengthening Islamist terrorist organizations and movements. The documents also reveal the interference of Qatar in the affairs of other countries, such as France, South Africa, Lebanon, and Israel, by means of significant grants to government elements, political activists, human rights organizations, and sports figures. Among other things, it uncovered the extent of the Qatari system of payments to politicians and influential public figures from different countries. Among the many figures revealed in these documents were some about whom documents were leaked to media. These were: Nicolas Sarkozy, Carla Bruni, Thabo Mbeki, Human Rights Watch, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Walid Jumblatt, Michel Francois Platini, Lamine Diack, and Islamist militias in northern Mali, as well as Israeli political figures. See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1734, 'Project Raven' – The Origin Of The Qatari Government Letters Leak, December 22, 2023.

[6] Indeed, a few days ago, the U.S. State Department announced its Rewards for Justice Program's "Reward Offer for Information on Hamas Financial Networks." This announcement seems to be a joke because the biggest funder of Hamas is the Qatari regime itself. See, January 5, 2024.


[8] The Saudis, who were considered the bearers of Wahhabism, are now, under the rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, gradually distancing themselves from the Wahhabi legacy.

[9] Following the U.S. and U.K. bombings of the Houthis aimed at ensuring free passage in the Red Sea, Qatar recently moved to defend the Houthis from these bombings by pausing shipments of LNG through the Red Sea to Europe – which will inevitably lead to a rise in the price of oil in the West and exert pressure on the U.S. and U.K to stop the bombing.

[10] See Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism advisor for the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism (1998-2003),, July 6, 2017.

[11] See Sky News Arabiya documentary,


[14] MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 11042, Hamas Operating In Libya In Service Of Qatar, December 27, 2023.

[17] Even three months into the war, Netanyahu has not reversed his decade-long policy of an alliance with Qatar and Hamas.

[19] Additionally, in the U.S., for several years, Qatar has ignored a Department of Justice order for Al-Jazeera to register as a foreign agent in accordance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). See David Cohen, former U.S. Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, who said that Qatar finances terrorists who live in Doha, and United Nations Press Release, March 23, 2021: "Security Council ISIL (Da'esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee Amends Eight Entries On Its Sanctions List," MEMRI Daily Brief No. 536, Qatar – Enabler Of Islamist Terrorism And A Dishonest Broker, November 1, 2023.

[20] Leaked correspondence in the ruling Qatari family, classified as secret, allegedly indicates that the Qatari regime intended to grant Netanyahu tens of millions of dollars in cash "to support the Likud's election campaign." See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1734, 'Project Raven' – The Origin Of The Qatari Government Letters Leak, December 22, 2023. While the leaked documents do not indicate whether the money was in fact transferred to Netanyahu or influenced his policy, there is no question regarding the billions of dollars that were funneled from Qatar to Hamas-ruled Gaza, with Netanyahu's consent and facilitation.

[21] See MEMRI translation of the Hamas Charter.

[22], January 14, 2024.

[23] Additionally, smuggling via the Philadelphi Corridor will continue, and the day is not far off when Israel's air force superiority will be overcome by the use of advanced shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft missiles smuggled into Gaza via Rafah, which is not under Israel's control.

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