Qatar more interested in buying loyalty of Hamas than in helping Gazans

It is a pity to see Qatar stoop so low and pretend it is unable to give more.
Sunday 25/02/2018
Qatari Ambassador to Gaza Mohammed al-Emadi (C) leaves following a news conference at the Dar al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, on February 19.(AFP)
Losing ground. Qatari Ambassador to Gaza Mohammed al-Emadi (C) leaves following a news conference at the Dar al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, on February 19.(AFP)

Qatar is losing ground in Gaza, even with Hamas still in control. Qatar and Turkey have not followed through on promises to end Gaza’s misery. Their aid was limited to hosting members of Hamas’s leadership in Ankara and Doha under unspecified conditions. The Turkish and Qatari sides had other plans.

For Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, Afrin, in north-western Syria, has become much more important than Jerusalem, the city that nourishes Gaza’s spirit and sustains its vitality and resistance. As for Qatar, winning the blessing of the United States has become primordial and it is willing to stop aiding Gaza in exchange.

Qatari officials have been so careful not to cross red lines imposed by so-called strategic talks with Washington that even the measly cost of paying the salaries of sanitation workers in Gaza’s broken-down hospitals has turned into a major challenge. Qatar is concerned that giving Gazans an additional handful of dollars could be considered a dangerous breach of the agreed-on measures in the war on terror.

The Americans placed Gazan groups on a terror blacklist even though things have relatively changed there. The dominant forces in Gaza are cooperating with the Egyptian military, closing Gaza’s borders with Egypt to designated terrorists.

Gaza’s misery is Palestinian made. It is the result of shameful indifference and poor decisions by Hamas and Fatah. The conflict between the two Palestinian parties allowed external powers to interfere and led to the disastrous conditions in Gaza.

Even while supporting Hamas in Gaza, Turkey and Qatar hoped not to anger the Israeli side. About two years ago, Turkey offered to find a solution to Gaza’s biggest problem: electricity. Ankara solemnly announced that it was going to build a power plant on Gaza’s northern borders, in other words, in Israel.

At that time, Israeli-Turkish relations were at their peak and the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid, in which Israel used a military operation against six Turkish ships en route to Gaza, killing nine activists, was forgotten. Israel, however, did not go along with the power plant project, so Turkey shelved it. The project could have given Israel great political and security advantages.

Qatar was more interested in buying the loyalty of Hamas than in helping Gaza’s population. As usual, it excelled in lamenting the fate of the Palestinian cause and blaming others for the worsening living conditions in Gaza.

With terrorism on the rise in Egypt’s Sinai, the Rafah border crossing became an issue for both Egyptians and Palestinians. Terrorist cells have taken up residence in northern Sinai with the objective of wearing down Egypt’s patience and stamina until it is forced to give up that territory, paving the way for a solution to the Palestinian problem: expanding the Gaza Strip towards the Sinai.

Qatari aid to Hamas was functionally a bribe for Hamas to remain embroiled in a conflict with Egypt that served no advantage to Hamas or the Palestinians.

When the Hamad City housing complex was completed in Gaza, most of the apartments were given to Hamas members whose houses had not even been destroyed. The other apartments went to the poor and some were sold in instalments to families of “martyrs.” Gazans who were in real need of housing had no choice but to protest loudly.

It is a pity to see Qatar stoop so low and pretend it is unable to give more as Gaza’s hospitals fail to pay sanitation companies because of a lack of funds. Meanwhile, Qatar has not hesitated to pay public relations companies millions of dollars to bolster its image and tarnish its opponents. The Palestinian Authority and President Mahmoud Abbas have done nothing to relieve the situation in Gaza’s hospitals because the dire situation serves their political agenda.

In a grotesque scene, the head of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, Ambassador Mohammed al-Emadi, at a news conference in Gaza, explained that sanitation costs in Palestinian hospitals were not part of the $9 million earmarked for Gaza.

For those who read between the lines, the ambassador was announcing the beginning of a break in relations with Hamas, especially after the latter made up with Egypt. One can also deduce that sanitation work in a hospital could turn out to be a terrorist act likely to irk the Americans.

Upon hearing the ambassador’s words, sanitation workers and other protesters threw stones and shoes at the speaker, who fled the scene. Qatar is in a real bind in Gaza.