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.