Why Courting Qatar Won’t Help to Restrain Russia

On Monday, President Biden met with Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar at the White House, and formally designated the Persian Gulf monarchy a major non-NATO ally. For the U.S., the main concern appears to be energy: if Russia renews its war in Ukraine and Washington wishes to respond with sanctions, or if Moscow cuts off natural-gas supplies to Europe to punish it for supporting for Kyiv, American allies will need alternate sources of energy. Qatar, as one of the world’s largest natural-gas exporters, can provide just that. But, writes Gregg Roman, there are costs to allying with Doha, which is a major funder of Hamas and runs the anti-Semitic and anti-American Al Jazeera—while also housing an important U.S. air base:

Russian and Qatari foreign policy and economic priorities end up aligning more often than not, especially when anathema to American interests. Both engage with the Taliban. They now work together to support the Syrian government. Each has a close relationship with Iran and undermines U.S. interests there. The same can be said of China.

Directly, Qatar is heavily invested in a sanctioned Russian bank, placed a $11.3 billion investment to prop up Russia’s gas industry, and acquired a significant stake in one of Russia’s largest airports. Russia and Qatar are also similar in that that they both threaten America’s interests and its allies’ security. The former is clear about its hostility towards America; the latter is [craftier] in its influence operations against the U.S. and its leaders.

Russia is Europe’s worst violator of human rights; Qatar follows in the Middle East with its slave-labor system. . . . Putin assassinates critics seeking refuge in countries allied with the United States, imprisons his political opponents in gulags in Siberia, and hosts American traitors like Edward Snowden in Moscow. Tamim is no better, financing or playing host to terrorist organizations like Islamic State, Hizballah, the Houthis, the Taliban, and Hamas, all enemies of the United States and responsible for attacks on America’s allies, the deaths of American soldiers, and the harming of innocent civilians.

In addition to fast-tracking the export of American natural gas to Europe, Biden should bypass Qatar in favor of other friendly gas-exporting nations like Norway, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Trinidad and Tobago. The Qataris should be made to answer for their behavior, not rewarded, especially not at the expense of the U.S. and its allies.

Read more at JNS

More about: Al Jazeera, Joseph Biden, Qatar, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy, War in Ukraine

Iran Brings Its War on Israel and the U.S. to the High Seas

On Sunday, the Tehran-backed Houthi guerrillas, who have managed to control much of Yemen, attacked an American warship and three British commercial vessels in the Red Sea. This comes on the heels of a series of maritime attacks on targets loosely connected to Israel and the U.S., documented in the article below by Mark Dubowitz and Richard Goldberg. They explain that Washington must respond far more forcefully than it has been:

President Biden refuses to add the Houthis back to the official U.S. terror list—a status he revoked shortly after taking office. And [Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei keeps driving toward a weapon of mass destruction with the UN’s nuclear watchdog warning that Iran is increasing its production of high-enriched uranium while stonewalling inspectors.

Refreezing all cash made available to Iran over the last few months and cracking down on Iranian oil shipments to China are the easy first steps. Senators can force Biden’s hand on both counts by voting on two bills that passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Next comes the reestablishment of U.S. military deterrence. America must defend itself and regional allies against any attempt by Iran to retaliate—a reassurance Riyadh and Abu Dhabi [also] need, given the potential for Tehran to break its de-escalation pact with the Gulf Arab states. By striking Iranian and Houthi targets, Biden would advance the cause of Middle East peace.  . . . Tehran will keep attacking Americans and U.S. allies unless and until he flashes American steel.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen