By Nicola Nasser**
In his inaugural address on
January 21, U.S. President Barak Obama made the historic announcement that "a
decade of war is ending" and declared his country's determination to "show the
courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully," but
his message will remain words that have yet to be translated into deeds and has
yet to reach some of the U.S. closest allies in the Middle East who are still
beating the drums of war, like Israel against Iran and Qatar against Syria.
In view of the level of "coordination"
and "cooperation" since bilateral diplomatic relations were established in 1972
between the U.S. and Qatar, and the concentration of U.S. military power on this tiny peninsula, it
seems impossible that Qatar
could move independently apart, in parallel with, away or on a collision course
with the U.S.
strategic and regional plans.
According to the US State department's online fact sheet,
"bilateral relations are strong," both countries are "coordinating"
diplomatically and "cooperating" on regional security, have a "defense pact," "Qatar hosts CENTCOM Forward Headquarters," and
supports NATO and U.S.
regional "military operations. Qatar
is also an active participant in the U.S. -- led efforts to set up an
integrated missile defense network in the Gulf region. Moreover, it hosts the
U.S. Combined Air Operations Center and three American military bases namely Al Udeid Air
Base , Assaliyah Army Base and Doha International Air Base , which are
manned by approximately 5,000 U.S. forces.
Qatar , which is bound by such a most
intimate and closest alliance with the United States, has recently
developed into the major sponsor of Islamist political movements. Qatar appears now to be the major sponsor of the
international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, which, reportedly,
disbanded in Qatar
in 1999 because it stopped to view the ruling family as an adversary.
--Brotherhood marriage of convenience has created the natural incubator of
Islamist armed fundamentalists against whom the U.S., since September 11, 2001, has
been leading what is labeled as the "global war on terrorism."
The war in the African nation Mali
offers the latest example on how the U.S.
seemingly, go on two separate ways. Whereas US Secretary of Defense, Leon
Panetta, was in London on January 18 "commending" the French "leadership of the
international effort" in Mali to which his country was pledging logistical,
transportation and intelligence support, Qatar appeared to risk its special
ties with France, which peaked during the NATO -- led war on Libya, and to
distrust the U.S. and French judgment.
On January 15, Qatari Prime and Foreign Minister, Sheikh
Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, told reporters he did not believe "power will solve
the problem," advised instead that this problem be "discussed" among the
"neighboring countries, the African Union and the (U.N.) Security Council," and
joined the Doha -- based ideologue for the Muslim Brotherhood and their Qatari
sponsors, Yusuf Abdullah al -- Qaradawi -- the head of the International Union
of Muslim Scholars who was refused entry visa to U.K. in 2008 and to France
last year -- in calling for "dialogue," "reconciliation" and "peaceful solution"
instead of "military intervention."
In a relatively older example, according to WikiLeaks, Somalia's
former president in 2009, Sharif Ahmed, told a U.S.
diplomat that Qatar was
channeling financial assistance to the al-Qaeda -- linked Shabab al-Mujahideen,
which the U.S.
listed as "terrorist."
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*Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist in Kuwait, Jordan, UAE and Palestine. He is based in Ramallah, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.